Implied Pot Odds
A lot of poker players know about pot odds. If you are not familiar with the concept, please read our Calculating Pot Odds article. Fewer players know about implied pot odds so this article will explain what they are.
What are Implied Pot Odds?
Implied pot odds are similar to regular pot odds in the mathematical sense, with the exception that you add another variable in the formula. This new variable is the amount of bets you expect to win from your opponents. In other words, implied pot odds include what’s in the pot and what you bet right now, plus any future amounts that you think could be added following your action. To clarify, the implied pot odds is based on amount in the pot and the amount that you think you’ll win from your opponents should you hit your hand (compared to the bets required to play the hand).
The challenge here is the ability to predict what the expected amount will be. It is therefore essential to have a good read on opponents because if you completely misjudge your “expected amount”, then your calculations may prove to be quite inaccurate.
Implied Pot Odds Example
Confused? Don’t worry, this next example will clarify the concept: Let’s say you are in a tournament. You have $10,000 starting chips and the blinds are $25 – $50. Let’s say everyone folds except you and another player, who bets $100 on the flop. What is your potential winning amount? Well, if the opponents were to go all-in later in the hand, then you could win his entire $10,000 which would give you 100 to 1 implied pot odds. (Taking into consideration what is not in the pot right now, but what could be added to it). If instead the bet was $1000 instead of $100, then the implied pot odds would have been 10 to 1. (Ratio between what’s in the pot now and what your opponent could added to it later in the hand).
Ok, these are implied pot odds but how does it help your game? A lot of people make a critical error at this stage. They make poker decisions based on potential win rather than the average win they expect to make in the long-term. In the example above, with the $100 bet, the potential win was still $10,000 but the chances of the pot going that high are slim at that stage in the game. Although potential win is part of the equation, you cannot make decisions solely based on potential because most times you’ll never get to the potential amount anyway.
Ajusting Pot Odds Calculation
So how do you adjust your calculations? You instead use “effective implied pot odds”, which is based on the amount you expect to win and not the maximum amount you could win theoretically. Let’s look at an example: It’s the same scenario than before. You are in a tournament with $10,000 in chips and $25-$50 blinds. If you face a $100 bet on the flop, you have the potential of winning $10,000 which would give you 100 to 1 implied pot odds. If you face a $1000 bet, these implied pot odds are now 10 to 1.
Determining the effective implied pot odds in Limit Hold’em is much easier than it is in No-Limit Hold’em. Most of the time in Limit Hold’em you can expect to win an additional 1-5 big bets after the flop depending on the number of opponents in the hand and the strength of their hands. Again, this is a judgment call so it’s only an effective calculation when you are an experienced player and are able to sense how a hand will play out.
In No-Limit the effective implied pot odds are not so clear. For example, even though a bet of $100 might represent 100 to 1 potential implied pot odds given your stack sizes, the effective implied pot odds are probably much less. But by how much? Your opponents will often back down on the turn in No-Limit. On the other hand, if he has top set you will most likely win a large portion, if not all, of his stack. Your decision should be based on the average expectation given all of the different scenarios that could play out given the range of hands you put your opponent on. Determining your effective implied pot odds in No-Limit is dependant on the type of opponent you are up against and the range of hands you put him on. It is therefore not a straightforward or accurate calculation as compared to plain old pot odds, which are quite accurate. Determining your effective implied pot odds takes experience and a good understanding of your opponents and how they play, which is why I noted the importance of being able to read opponents earlier. As a general rule, your effective implied pot odds are much higher against loose opponents than tight opponents since you have a better chance of winning their entire stack if they have a decent hand. This is because a “decent” hand for a loose player is a poor hand to a tight player.
Using Effective Implied Pot Odds
When you face difficult calls on a draws, think of your effective implied pot odds. Concentrate on figuring out how much of your opponent’s stack you think you could win on average if you did hit your hand. It’s not about what you could win, but rather, what you expect to win. The expected pot odd calculation is used in addition to the regular pot odd calculation and it gives you an extra tool to make your final diagnostic. Think of it as a tool and nothing else. It’s like when a psychologist tries to determine if there is depression in a patient. They may use a questionnaire tool which would indicate a trend, and they may use a second (and different) evaluation tool to further probe the problem and obtain more indicators. It’s the same principle with implied pot odds. They are not the absolute truth, but they can give you more data to consider when making a decision. Inexperienced players should not bother with implied pot odds until they are comfortable with the calculation of regular pot odds, and until they have significant poker experience under their belt.