The concept of implied odds

Most players who study no limit hold’em understand how implied odds and not pot odds are the biggest factor in this form of poker unlike limit hold’em. However there is a class of player in no limit ring games who place too much emphasis on implied odds. These days with the average skill level of the online poker world becoming far tougher then implied odds are nowhere near what they used to be. Let us look at the classic implied odds situation of calling a raise with a small pocket pair.

Your opponent raises in early position and you call on the button with 4c-4d. Now if your plan in this instance is to play fit or fold poker then you need to have the opportunity to make a big pay off if you make a set with your fours. Most players understand how more opponents increase the implied odds of certain hands and also stack sizes as well. But one other factor that needs to be considered is in relation to how strong your opponents are.

If your opponents are far better and stronger then the implied odds that you will get from these players will be far lower and so your presumed big pot will never arrive. This also means that implied odds are also level dependent as well and your implied odds would be greater for example in a $5 game in terms of big blinds than they would be in a $200 game. So the natural knock on effect of this is that as you play serious levels of poker then your implied odds are far lower and that makes playing in a fit or fold way largely unprofitable.

Let us say that you call 3.5bb and you will only be able to progress beyond the flop in four out of eight instances. You will hit your set roughly one chance in eight and so calling and folding will show an immediate loss of 14bb. In another two instances then your opponent bets the flop and you have something and call but a turn bet blows you off the hand making around another 17bb which makes 31bb so far. Quite often even when you make your set then your opponent will have missed and have nothing but overcards. They may fire a barrel on the flop but will fold to a raise. They may even double barrel the turn but will surely shut down if you call again.

There is no doubt that implied odds are your friend. Poker is a battle to make money and implied odds are your ally in that battle. However you do need to give them some assistance in that battle and fold equity is that assistance. This means that you need to play more post flop “poker” with your small pocket pair than you may have otherwise been prepared to do.

If you don’t or are not prepared to do that then you are placing too much pressure on your hand to make money in the conventional way of making a big hand. Actually in today’s tighter and more aggressive online games then if you were to become involved in a big pot with a set then the chances are that you would not have the best hand and set over set would be crushing for you.

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