Pot Odds and Implied Odds Defined

There are so many concepts that a good poker player has to be familiar with in order to be a successful (profitable) player. Among these concepts are pot odds and implied odds. But concepts such as these are completely worthless without the most important concept of them all, common sense and instinct. Before I get into this week’s hand of the week let’s quickly go over what pot odds and implied odds are.

Pot Odds – The amount of money in the pot compared to the amount you must put in the pot to continue playing. For example, suppose there is $60 in the pot. Somebody bets $6, so the pot now contains $66. It costs you $6 to call, so your pot odds are 11:1. If your chance of having the best hand is at least one out of twelve, you should call. Pot odds also apply to draws. For instance, suppose you have a draw to the nut flush with one card left to come. In this case, you are about a 4:1 underdog to make your flush. If it costs you $8 to call the bet, then there must be about $32 in the pot (including the most recent bet) to make your call correct.

Implied Odds – Pot odds that do not exist at the moment, but may be included in your calculations because of bets you expect to win if you hit your hand. For instance, you might call with a flush draw on the turn even though the pot isn’t offering you quite 4:1 odds (your chance of making the flush) because you’re sure you can win a bet from your opponent on the river if you make your flush.

Now that we have those terms defined, on to the hand of the week. I was playing online at a $1-$2 table and was in the big blind with 7s-8s. 6 players called the blind with no raises so I took a free flop.

The flop was the As-Qs-Qd. I hit the flop for a flush draw and with so many players in the pot, I was sure that someone else hit it as well. The small blind checked and with so many other players yet to act after me, I checked as well. The next player bet $15 and was called by 5 players including the small blind. Only one player checked out. I found this to be incredibly strange. I wanted to fold but realized that the implied odds made it quite correct for me to call. So that is exactly what I did.

The turn card was the 9s giving me my flush. I thought this was a good thing, but again giving my horrendous position, I decided I would not bet into the field. The small blind checked and I checked behind him. The next player to act bets $25 into the pot and is called by the 3 other players to act. One players was forced all in by this bet. I thought for a moment and thought hard. I knew the odds were there for a “correct” call but I just didn’t feel I had the best hand even though I had already made a flush. So I folded, leaving over $220 in the pot.

The river card was the 5c. This time, the small blind goes all in for $80, and is called by the other two players (remember, one player was already all in). So there was now a nice $240 side pot going. Everyone flips over the cards. The small blind had a full house, Queens over Tens, the early all-in player had Pocket Aces giving him a full house Aces over Queens. The other 2 players? They both had Jack – King offsuit giving them Broadway straights! What a crazy hand. My flush would have been he 3rd best hand and I would have had nothing to show for it. I can only wonder what the two guys with Jack-King were thinking. Normally, when there are that many players in the pot and the board pairs up, there is a better than average chance that someone has filled up. Regardless of the pot odds involved, they had to know they were badly beaten and were drawing completely dead by the turn.

Either way, I found this hand very interesting and I hope you did too. Just remember the lesson, just because a situation is mathematically correct to call, doesn’t mean you will end up taking down the pot. Use your instincts and common sense. Don’t just base all your decisions by the book.

Until next time, may the chips fall your way.