Poker Lesson 43

Pot odds, part X: Concerning implicit pot odds
Before temporarily leaving the subject of pot odds, I will touch upon the concept of implicit odds.

As I have now shown you, there are a good number of situations in poker which motivate that you fold your hand, when the pot odds are not attractive enough. But there are exceptions to this rule! If you are in a situation where you have a draw to a hand that is highly likely to let you win the pot, AND can still reasonably expect the others to bet heavily, you do not need the correct pot odds right then; you will instead get them after your call.

Such odds are called implicit pot odds. Implicit odds are defined as the relation between your TOTAL expected win, if you hit your draw, and the money required right then to call. Many amateur players miss out on good situations and good opportunities, simply by not foreseeing how the betting is likely to develop.

A good example of this in Texas hold'em is when you start with a medium pocket pair in hand, such as 7-7 or 8-8, and are up against optimistic opponents who are willing to continue staying in the pot even with very weak cards. The odds against flopping a set (a three of a kind) are roughly 8 to 1, but even so it may be worth calling when the pot offers you odds of only 6 to 1, or even as unfavourable as 5 to 1...

... because IF you hit your draw and then bet or raise, AND you can confidently expect several of the others to optimistically call you instead of getting suspicious of you and folding, you can count on winning a pot which is 10 to 15 times the amount of your call right then.

Thus, while your direct pot odds may be only 5 to 1 right then in the above situation, your implicit odds may instead be as attractive as 10 to 1 or better. And should the flop not give you a set, which of course most often is the case, but instead contain one or more overcards (= cards higher in value than the ones you have in hand), you should strongly consider folding here.

Your implicit odds will grow with the size of the expected betting in the rounds to follow, and can give you good reason to call IN THE RIGHT SITUATIONS.

If however your opponents are smart and able to figure out what you are holding, they will be much less likely to part with their chips. In dubious situations you should therefore rather call against weak opponents, than against strong ones. Apart from that they by definition play worse, weaker players are more likely to call you when you bet or raise with a strong made hand, which of course improves your implicit pot odds. More skilled opponents who are more likely to fold marginal hands, will however instead reduce and worsen your implicit odds.