Gaining the Edge: Implied pot odds

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Implied pot odds are those actually inferred or anticipated on the river when there is a showdown. You have pot odds on the flop of 8-1 if there are eight small bets in the pot while you must invest one small bet to stay to see the turn card.

It’s a simple calculation. As long as the card odds against you are lower, that’s a sound bet and prudent investment to make in getting a positive expectation.

In the long run, that bet/investment will make money for you. In actuality, we can regard these as the immediate pot odds – as determined by the amount of chips in the pot at that time, related to what is needed for you to call the last bet.

Implied pot odds looks ahead to the river (or showdown): How big is the pot likely to be at that time? Based on the number of opponents staying to see the turn, you can “guesstimate” how many more bets will be added to the pot.

Sure, it’s just a guess, but it can be a fairly accurate one knowing your opponents’ betting and calling tendencies. Now the odds may be more favorable for you to call that bet.

Perhaps the best time to resort to implied pot odds is on the turn, when you are in a late position, and your pot odds are very close to your card odds. Would calling the bet to see the river be a wise investment?

Let’s say there is the equivalent of only 3½ big bets in the pot so your immediate pot odds are 3½-to-1. You are drawing to the nut flush with nine outs; so your card odds (as determined by our 4-2 rule) are approximately 4-1. Now the pot odds are less than the card odds, suggesting that you should fold.

But wait a minute! There are two opponents in the hand; one has been betting all along while the other and you have been calling.

If you connect on the river and make your nut flush, you are certain (assuming there are no pairs on the board) that it will win the pot.

Even if both opponents check to you on the river, your bet should get at least one call. So, for implied pot odds for your call to see the river, you reasonably can add at least one big bet more at 4½-to-1.

That is more than the card odds against you so it is a prudent bet. Actually it’s more like an investment that will pay off in the long run.

Using this concept, you have gained yet another edge over your opponents – since very few of them are even aware of the value of using implied pot odds.

(EDITOR’s NOTE: Comments? George “The Engineer” can be reached at [email protected] His poker books are available at special discount for GamingToday readers. Also see ad in GT.)

 

About the Author

George Epstein

A retired engineer, George Epstein is the author of “The Greatest Book of Poker for Winners!” and “Hold’em or Fold’em? – An Algorithm for Making the Key Decision.” He teaches poker courses and conducts a unique Poker Lab at the Claude Pepper Senior Center under the auspices of the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks and at West Los Angeles College.

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