Texas Holdem Math: What are Implied Odds?

Many people fail to see that poker is not just a game of luck but also a game of skill. Skill can be expressed in multiple ways, one of them being the skill of reading your opponents. Good players pay attention to betting patterns, and even small physical tells to understand their opponents and predict their next moves. However, another way skill is expressed in poker is through the ability to make quick calculations on the fly.

Math is essential to playing poker well, particularly in Texas Holdem. And while you might think poker math is complicated and challenging to learn, that’s far from the truth. The basics of poker math are easy to get down, and in this poker guide, we will teach you a core concept that you can quickly learn and apply in your games: Implied Odds.

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1. Why Texas Holdem?

This article will focus exclusively on Texas Holdem Poker for many reasons. Firstly, it is the world’s most popular and well-known poker variant. Second, it is easy to understand for beginners yet leaves lots of room for skill expression. Whether you are new or a pro, there is still something new to learn. Every player plays with the same rules, meaning the game is fair and unbiased. Finally, it is played with the standard 52-card deck, making it easy to do math since players know which cards are used.

2. What are implied odds?

Implied odds are similar to pot odds, as they tell you if calling a bet is worth it, given the state of your hand. They are the amount of money you believe you’ll get if you hit one of your outs (community cards needed to complete your desired hand). You have good implied odds if you believe you’ll win a lot of money later on if you get your outs. If you think you will not be able to earn money from the other players later on, you have bad implied odds.

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3. Pot Odds vs. Implied Odds

Implied odds and pot odds are both poker odds that help you decide to call a raise/bet. However, they have one significant difference: Pot odds have easy formulas and can be precisely calculated; in contrast, there is no exact formula for implied odds. They are usually just estimated, so experienced players will better understand their implied odds.

4. Good and bad implied odds

An excellent way for beginners to understand implied odds is by analyzing situations with both good and bad implied odds. Let’s say you have in hand a six and a five. The flop contains a jack, a four, and a seven. You have a good-looking hand in this scenario, as your straight can be completed by any three or eight draw. You also have good implied odds if someone bets into you. It is hard to tell that you might have a straight, so you can expect to earn a lot if you complete it.

Let’s take a look at another example. You have a queen and 3 in hand, while the flop contains a jack, a ten, and a nine. Like the previous example, you have a straight if you get an eight or a king. Your straight is stronger in this example, but the implied odds are much worse.

Every other player can see the flop, and when you get a draw on the turn or river, they can see that too. With the board making a very obvious straight, it is unlikely your opponents will bet into you, especially if you get your draw. If they still do, they are likely also to have a straight, potentially even stronger than yours. As a rule of thumb, your implied odds are better when the more hidden your hand is since implied odds involve other players betting on you.

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5. Implied odds and pot odds

Implied odds are helpful because they can act as a sort of alternative to pot odds. The pot odds only consider the current pot, while implied odds estimate how the pot can grow. Even if the pot odds tell you not to call, but the implied odds are good, you can justify making the call as the pot can grow, and you stand to make more money than if you fold.

6. Calculating implied odds

We mentioned that implied odds were mostly estimated with no set formula. While this is true, there is one thing you can get: The amount you must win to make the call worthwhile. To do this, you subtract your pot odds from your draw odds. This ratio should then be multiplied by the amount you call to get the amount of money you need from your opponent to make the call profitable. Ex: Your pot odds are 3:1, while the odds of completing your draw are 5:1. Subtraction gives you 2:1, and multiplying that with the amount you should call, let’s say $20, gets you $40. You must get at least $40 from your opponent in the following rounds to break even.

Practicing implied odds

Along with pot odds, implied odds are helpful for every poker player. We hope this article helped you understand how implied odds work and how to play poker. If you want to practice, go to GGPoker, the world’s largest poker room. Playing online poker is a great idea for learning, especially if you find calculating implied odds difficult. You can play multiple games at once and access software like poker odds calculators and poker trackers to help you out.