Poker Odds and Implied Odds

Many calling decisions made by the players are based on the size of the pot compared to the current pot. This is known as the pot odds in texas holdem poker. While this gives an indication of what is correct, pot odds must be adjusted based on the future action of your rivals. For instance, if the bettor is to your right and there are other players who might raise behind you, you should adjust the pot odds accordingly lower. This means you will fold more of your hands.

Let's take two complicated examples of this concept. First, if you hold

And the flop comes

If the tough player to your right bets, several players are behind you and there has no raise before the flop, you should in this case fold. Notice that in this example, not only you might be against a better ace, but a spade or a straight card can beat you. (Against a "loose bettor" who would play any ace, and bet any ace or queen, you should raise instead of folding. You should continue playing against a player who will only bet a draw and check his better hands expecting to get in a check-raise.) But against many bettors you should merely fold. And second example, if you hold

And the flop comes

(Again think that you can be against a better jack, or that a spade or straight card can beat you.)

The two exceptions of folding these hands are when the pot has become very big and/or the game is very loose. Also keep in mind that calling is sometimes the worst play. That is, folding or raising in these situations is the correct strategy. If the pot is big and you are deciding to play, it is normally correct to raise with these kinds of hands. You should sometimes call, since you cannot afford to give someone behind you who holds an average hand the correct odds to draw out.

There are other situations such as when the above board is shown where you have decided to play it may be best to call. If the scare card hits on the board, you can throw your hand away. But if a blank comes, you can raise to thin out the field.

Further, if you call on the flop and also decide to call on fourth street, keep in mind that the pot odds you are getting are not as good as they seems to be. The additional call that you decide to make decreases the effective odds that you are getting from the pot. (Refer to The Theory of Poker for more discussion about this topic.)

The case can also be sometimes opposite. That is, your odds actually are better than the odds that the pot is giving you. This occurs when you decide to continue playing only if you hit your hand. Otherwise, you should fold. This means that the pot will not offer you the correct odds to play a specific hand. That is because the pot is offering you the implied odds.

For example it is to call before the flop with the small pair, getting lower than 5-to-1 odds as long as there is a fear of a raise behind you. (The odds against flopping a set are about 7 ½-to-1. You can make this call against players who gives a lot of action even if you are getting less than 5-to-1.) Another example is to try for an inside straight on the flop when you have the odds of only about 8-to-1. (The odds of making a gut-shot are about 11-to-1.)
Suppose if you hold

And the flop comes

Here you can call even if you are getting less than the required 11-to-1. However, if a two-flush is on the board or if you are not sure that your hand will be good if you hit it then in that case you would want odds of at least 11-to-1 to call.

Consequently, even if the odds do not justify it, you still should make a loose call occasionally, as you don't want to become known as a "folder." If you are termed as a folder, other players will always try to run over you, and otherwise observant players may turn tricky and become difficult to play against. (Further, for more discussion about the pot odds and the implied odds, refer to The Theory of Poker.)

Continue: Holdem-Bluffing