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Texas Hold'em A to Z: I Is for Implied Odds

20 May 2011

By Bill Burton

Implied odds are the pot odds adjusted for future betting and should be considered when deciding whether to continue playing your hand in Texas Hold'em. When you figure implied odds, you are adding bets that you expect to win if you make the winning hand. Before you can consider implied odds, you must have a basic understanding of pot odds and how they affect your playing decisions during a game.

The relationship between the amount of money in the pot and the cost of calling a bet is known as pot odds. Many low limit and higher limit Texas Hold'em players have no concept of pot odds and how it can affect their profitability. They only look at their two cards to see if there is a chance that they could win. They don't understand the reasoning for playing drawing hands against a large field of opponents. Some hands that are profitable against many players will be losers or breakeven hands with fewer players in the hand.

Let's look at an example to see how pot odds can affect your profitability. Every poker player has heard the advice to "never draw to an inside straight." In many situations it is truly the correct advice, however not always.

You are playing in a $2/4 limit game. You hold the ten and 9 of clubs: The board cards are Kd - 7s- 6h - 2c. It will cost you $4 to see the river card.

The only card that can help you is an 8. There are four of them left in the deck. With your two hole cards and the four on the board you have seen six of the 52 cards in the deck, so there are 46 unseen cards left. Four times you will catch the 8 and 42 times you won't, so the odds are 42 to 4 or 10.5 against you. You get this figure by dividing 46 by 4 and you get 11.5. Subtract 1 and you have 10.5 to 1.

In order to make a call of $4 to try for an inside straight, the pot must contain $42 in order for you to break even and more than that if you want to make a profit. Here is where that figure comes from: You will lose $42 for the 10.5 times you don't catch an 8 ($4 bet x 10.5 = 42.) The one time you do catch the 8, you will make money in the long run if the pot contains more than $42 and you will lose if the pot contains less than $42.

Remember, the pot odds are the relationship between the money in the pot and the price of a bet you must make to call. If the pot contains $44 and the size of the bet you must call is four dollars, we divide the $44 by $4 and we get 11, which means that the pot odds are 11 to 1. The odds against making an inside straight are 10.5 to one, so the pot odds are greater than the odds against making your hand. You should call.

Now suppose the pot only contains $40 when it is your turn to act. If you go strictly by pot odds, you should fold but you know there are two other players still in the hand and you surmise that one of them has a king for top pair. If you call and make your inside straight, you know that one or both of the players will bet and or call at the river. It's possible that you could raise and get a call if the player did have kings and bet first. So if you make your hand you figure to gain two or more bets. These two bets would be your implied odds. When you add these two extra bets to your pot odds, you will be getting the right odds (12 to 1) to call with your inside straight draw.

When you figure your implied odds, you have to be aware if there are other players who still have to act after you. If the player to your left raises after you bet, then the implied odds you calculated will not be correct as you now have to call another bet to see the next card.

As with all poker, nothing is set in stone, but using implied odds is just another tool you can add to your poker arsenal.

Until next time remember:
Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

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