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StrategyNo Limit Midstack

Short Stack Strategy: Implied Pot Odds

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In this article
  • Implied odds are improved pot odds
  • Everything is dependent on how much your opponent is prepared to pay

In the previous article about outs, odds and pot odds, you learned the fundamental mathematical method of determining whether you can play your draws profitably or not. You count the cards which improve your hand (the outs), determine the probability of one of those cards being dealt (the odds), and finally compare them with the pot odds (the relationship between the possible profit and the bet which has to be called).

But there is still more. Pot odds only take the current pot into account, even though other opponents will frequently invest more money in the pot if you complete your draw. The calculation of the pot odds doesn't include this additional profit.

The implied odds come into play here. Implied odds are a variation of the pot odds. They not only take the current pot into account, but also the potential money that any of your opponents might invest in the hand on the following streets. However, implied odds aren't simply about mathematics; they involve some speculation as well. You have to make an assumption about how much more your opponent is willing to pay if you do complete your draw.

You'll learn what you have to look out for when estimating their willingness to pay.

Video: Implied Pot Odds
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What are Implied Pot Odds?

As mentioned above, implied pot odds or 'implied odds' are modified pot odds which take into account that your opponent will often bet if you do complete your draw.

Implied pot odds = (current pot + forthcoming opponents' bets) : bet which has to be called

Assume you have a flushdraw in a freeplay and the pot is at $0.40. One opponent bets $0.20, so the pot is now $0.60 and you have to pay another $0.20 to see the turn card. The pot odds are $0.60:$0.20 or 3:1. The odds for your draw are at 4:1, which means that you would have to fold.

What happens if you hit your flush on the turn? How much would your opponent have to pay for it to be correct to continue playing? It's simple! As you have 4:1 odds, you need at least 4:1 pot odds.

You have to pay $0.20 so we multiply this by 4, $0.20 x 4 = $0.80. The pot would have to be $0.80 if you only consider the pot odds. However, the pot is only $0.60 ($0.20 less than the amount it should be). This is the exact amount that your opponent would have to pay on the turn, if you hit your flush.

Is this realistic? It heavily depends on the specific situation and on your opponents' activity These factors and how high your pot odds are, will be discussed in the next section.

What influences Implied Pot Odds?

In comparison to the pot odds, the implied odds are based on estimating how much money your opponents are prepared to invest into the hand in subsequent rounds.

The most important factors influencing the pot odds are:

  • How loose is your opponent?

    Loose means that a player likes to see a showdown and rarely folds his hand. The less a player folds, the looser he is and the higher your implied pot odds are.

    There is also the question of how loose a player is before the flop. If a player raises many hands before the flop, the probability of him hitting a good hand on the flop is lower. The implied odds will therefore also be lower, unless he is a maniac who likes to make big bluffs on the flop.

  • How much strength does your opponent show?

    The stronger the opponent's hand, the tougher it will be for him to fold. This also means that your implied odds are higher.

  • How obvious is your hand?

    The more obvious your hand, the lower your implied pot odds. For example, a flushdraw or a made flush are relatively obvious. On the other hand, a double gutshot is not that obvious. A hand being obvious doesn't only mean that the board cards give your hand away, it also refers to how you play the hand.

    Say the flop shows two cards of the same suit . If you check and call a bet and only take action if the turn shows your third flushcard, your hand becomes obvious to many opponents.

  • Does your position favour you over your opponent?

    It is easier to extract more money from your opponents if you have an advantageous position over them, in other words, if you act after your opponent in every betting round. In this way, your implied pot odds are better.

  • Are you on the flop or the turn?

    Your implied pot odds for the next community card are, as a rule, higher on the flop than on the turn. This is because you have two more betting rounds to get your opponent to invest, instead of just one.

  • How big are the stacks involved in the hand?

    It is logical: the more money the players involved have, the more money you could win.


No-Limit Hold'em is a game of implied pot odds simply because the bets aren't restricted. As bets increase with every betting round, you get more money in the pot in later rounds than in earlier ones.

To conclude we can say that:

  • the more strength your opponent shows
  • the less obvious your hand is
  • the harder it is for your opponent to fold his hand

... the higher your implied pot odds. Furthermore, they are higher on the flop than on the turn and even higher if you have a position of vantage over your opponent.

Nevertheless, it has to be highlighted that you should not overestimate your implied odds. Be careful with assumptions about how much money you can extract from your opponents in future betting rounds.


Comments (20)

#1 Rven, 17 Jul 08 10:46

Implied odds assume you are going to hit your draw.
But what if you don't hit it?

Then you actually made a bad call on the flop, since you were betting against your normal (pot)odds. Or am I missing something here?

#2 lyly13, 29 Jul 08 12:04

yep u are missing something, pot ods refer to the amount of chips allready on play on the flop, in the long run u will lose if u call a bet of 4$ on a 10$ flop if u have a flush draw...u
ll lose 6$ overall .... but when implied ods come into play u'll have to take account that u can get more than 6$ after the turn card comes and u get ure flush draw... reflect on this :)

#3 mouse89, 05 Oct 08 15:01


#4 Smileyphil, 30 Oct 08 12:12

The sss suggests getting most of the money in preflop or on the flop. How do implied odds work in this situation?

#5 yzystyle, 29 Nov 08 00:05

i think rven made a good point, can somebody comment on that? i also have a question... where can i find the new starting hands chart for the sss strategy? i heard about it in a video by hasenbraten...

#6 Devolucian, 15 Dec 08 13:33

I think you are missing a point with the term that implied odds aren't just mathematical...
Implied odds can't be looked the same way as normal pot odds, you must know when it's good time to use them, there is no simple rule here and in my opinion better use implied odds only in rare cases when you really have a good feeling about it, not just every hand, or all over, implied odds are here for improving your winnings now and then, not a fact on which you should base your play...

#7 SadisticNature, 02 Jan 09 19:11

For flop considerations you should also consider negative implied odds, sometimes by calling hoping to hit you make the pot large enough to force you to call again on the turn and when the situation is considered as a whole you are making a net -ve play. But I guess this might be too complicated for this level of article.

#8 janissilapriede, 06 Jan 09 21:58

I'm reading this article forth time in two days, but I still can't whirl my brain around that "implied odds" thing..It seems too speculative for me, and I don't see longterm gain from risking money where I can just fold.

Can someone explain this article a bit more understandably?

#9 Shadow01011979, 05 Feb 09 09:42

On the long run for a beginner is not very worthwhile....
And besides that when playing with fish that with J10o allready go All in it's more than risky.
This situation only applies for sitting in the BB and having a freeplay....(According to SSS!)
And I prefer not to risk my money in an extrem situation. I agree that it can be a very profitable situation sometimes, but in the stage I am (very beginner) this will only take to long terms loses....
I'll try to study and understand this part o poker too......

#10 STR82ACE, 21 Feb 09 15:13

Implied odds are less about 'math' than they are about reads and gut feels. You have to have a decent read on your opponent(s) and the pot has to be a certain amount for you to continue with your hand. If you have outs to the nuts, and your read on your opponent is loose aggressive, it can be very profitable to chase. However, it is not something you should do all the time, only sparingly, and try not to get into multiway pots just yet with it (although thats when implied odds REALLY pay off).

#11 darrhhh, 18 Mar 09 11:06

implied odds can only work if you play normal or deep stack, there is no profit in playing these in short stack scenario we start at in bronze level. WITH NO MORE MONEY TO COME DO NOT EVEN BOTHER WITH THIS PLAY LOL. implied odds can only work if you can bet more money after you have called on a draw which did not offer you sufficent odds to call. u only do this if you A.) have more money to bet and B.) think that your opponent will call extra bets when you make your draw. For example if I call a pot size bet on the flop to my inside straight i have insufficient odds to call, but provided i know the opponent will slow down (let me see the river cheaply) and call my extra large bet on the river when I do make my draw, it is reason enough to call. Opponent and hand reading has everything to do with this PLAY since certain hands/opponents will not pay you off as their hands are too weak or they are too conservative on the river, but very aggressive on the turn. BE CAREFUL SOME DRAWS ARE OBVIOUS AND WONT PAY YOU OFF SUFFICENTLY TO PLAY (FLUSH DRAW). hope this explanation helps, feel free to add and ask, critique...

#12 darrhhh, 18 Mar 09 11:09

as all things, poker is a game of situation. I was in an extremely loose live game the other week where any flush draw was paid of royaly, so exceptions do exist but are not very common ;)

#13 DevilChess, 12 May 09 16:05

Implied pot odds: Its the money you can get your opponent to call from you, AFTER you've hit your draw.

Playing only the current pot odds (the pot at the time you make the decision to call, bet or fold) is, as a matter of fact, a MISTAKE, a MISCALCULATION, in other words you LOSE money if you only consider the pot at the time of your decision.

Why? Because its a FACT you can get more money from your opponent after you've hit your hand, and NOT considering this amount of money equates into LOSING money.

Always consider that if you hit your draw, you can get your opponent to call at LEAST as much as he bet in the current round of betting.

There is $0.25 cents in the pot and you have: KsQs
The board is: As 2s 6c 9d
Your opponent bets $0.10
Giving you 1 to 3.5
Your flush has 20% chance of hitting, meaning you NEED 1 to 4 pot odds to call. Should you fold? No. Why? Because if you do hit your flush, you CAN ASSUME your opponent would call $0.10 on the river (Since the pot would then be $0.35 + $0.10 = $0.45 - he would get 1 to 4.5 pot odds for his hand, even mid-pair is worth calling 1 to 4.5 pot odds on the river)

So in reality, you are playing for a $0.45 pot ($0.35 [current pot] + [$0.10 implied pot]), which gives you 1 to 4.5 pot odds, which would be worth a call given you need 1 to 4 pot odds for your flush draw.

So, as you can see, if you had folded you'd be LOSING money, to be exact, you would be losing AT LEAST that extra 0.5 pot odds. I say AT LEAST, because you may be able to get MORE money from your opponent: for example if you are last to act, your opponent could make a $0.10 bet himself on the RIVER, and you could raise him to $0.20 and get a call, meaning you would get 1 to 5.5 pot odds on the turn.

#14 danmarcus111, 02 Jun 09 16:32

In response to darrhhh: it's true that the majority of times that you move into a pot voluntarily in SSS there will be very little left to bet, but there are still situations where it may be useful to think in this way (think about free flop from big blind, you check, opponent 1 bets...). On top of this, this site is about teaching you skills that you can use to improve your poker game generally, not just SSS - and this is pretty essential!

#15 Ratinha, 03 Jun 09 03:27

Let's see if I got something right as a beginner: In the SSS if you face a bet or raise with an OESD or flush draw and you raised preflop you go directly all-in. So you are raising or reraising, not calling. The implied odds theory is about calling. In the SSS strategy you are raising all-in not because of pot odds, implied or not, but on the statistical likeliness that either a) your opponent(s) also have draws, since it's very low stakes or b) they fold to your aggression.

I´ve played a number of by-the-rule SSS tables and made a profit, except in some of the deviations I tried. Much of the profit was not from winning all in showdowns but from they folding to my aggrression - provided you leave the table with a 25% profit, which taks discipline. That's why raising is good, irrespective of draw pot odds, provided you raised preflop.

By the way, one deviation that has worked was to include some mid connectors, especially 9Ts and TJs in mid-position, after I folded a lot of hands (but not at the start) and got a tight image. I got a lot of respect even with limpers before me folding to a raise, and a decent chance if called.

#16 MrGoodHurt, 24 Aug 09 06:24

ok read it give me a check

#17 bachbach, 25 Sep 09 07:19


#18 THeGaME23, 15 Oct 09 13:40

I see a lot of people are having trouble understanding. Implied pot odds factor not only what is in the pot but what you could win if you make your hand on the turn or the river. This is influenced by all the things above like how obvious your hand will be. If you have a good deceptive hand like 24o onto a board of 3 5 K, your opponent won't put you on 24o and therefore your implied odds are bigger because you will make more money if you hit your straight with an ace for ex.

#19 nategleb, 10 Dec 09 16:47

Ratinha, playing SSS you must should take into consideration the "on the river" odds which are 2:1 for OESD and flushdraws + you have the agressivness on your side (opponent might fold).

#20 CreamyGoodness, 31 Jan 11 01:37

I dont think implied odds play much of a role in SSS.

On the subject of obvious draws: You have better implied odds when drawing to a straight than a flush: A third flush card is very obvious and may not get paid off, whereas a random card comnpleting your straight is much more concealed.