Ever tried explaining why you hit that draw against an opponent when your hand is strong? They’ll say things like: “Well, I had a good read on their playing style and their hand ranges.” Using implied odds, or pot odds compared to your hand strength, is a good way to keep these guys in the hand when you have the better of it.
But how do we determine if a player is making a read on your playing style? You use implied odds as a way to justify a call when you have the arguably better hand. Let’s say you have Ah-10h. It’s folded around, so you make a three times the blind raise. The small blind calls and the big blind moves all-in. Using implied odds, you know you should move all-in. If you make a pre-flop raise of 4xBB, you need to get at least 30BB in the pot to justify the call. That’s implied odds.
You’ll need to get a better hand to justify calling the all-in bet once the flop hits. That’s where the use of implied odds comes in. Say you have K-Q and the flop is Qh-3h-2s. You have a strong hand, but only a small edge. You need to get at least 30BB in the pot to justify the call on a coin flip. That’s implied odds. You need at least 30BB, but you only have an edge if your opponent calls a bet on the flop. That’s implied odds.
You have a monster hand pre-flop, but you have to work with a weak side card. Or, you have a good but a weak side card. As you can see, you need some information to get a good chance of winning a hand with favorable odds.
Using implied odds, you do need to play a hand with favorable odds in order to be profitable. It may not be the hand you would play otherwise, but you want a way to win a hand with favorable odds. You might not make a call with the same hand you might have made a call with if you could see the flop for free.
An example: You have T9s and the flop is 9h-6s-2h. You have flopped the nuts, and a quick call will also cost you more than a raise would. You’ll need more money in the pot than a raise to justify the call, however, since you are relying on implied odds. You need at least 30BB in the pot to justify calling. That’s implied odds. You have a good chance of making a flush if you have any spade, and you have implied odds that say you’ll catch a spade if you hit the flush. But you don’t know that, and your hand hasn’t been tested. It’s just you and your hand.
Likewise, you may be facing a loose, aggressive player with a strong hand. If you’re holding big cards, and the flop looks like it has a lot of diamonds, you may be facing 3s-4s, which are more than likely not going to fix the board. If you’re wrong, you could lose a lot of money. But if you’re right, you’ll win a ton of money. It doesn’t matter what your opponent has, because you’re a good player, and you understand poker well. Based on this, you can make educated guesses about what the other player has, therebyoring the odds of beating his hand.
This may all sound confusing, but it’s really not that hard to do. Once you learn a little bit about poker, you’ll realize the value of implied odds. In the long run, it will pay off, and you’ll be able to justify paying players off more often.