What are implied odds and how do they work in poker



One of the great things about poker is that it is a game of incomplete information. You don't know what your opponent has, and you don't know the cards that are going to come on the flop, turn, and river. This lack of information is what makes poker a challenge, as you have to adjust to ever-changing circumstances. Download WPT Global today and look at how implied odds give you a way to plan for future events by considering the consequences of certain cards coming on the turn and river.

What are Implied Odds? 

Implied odds are a way of looking at how much money you can expect to win, on either the turn or river, if you make your hand against your opponent. It's used alongside pot odds to determine whether it's worth it to call a bet with your draw.

Sometimes you're not getting the direct price to continue drawing, but if you feel like you're going to win a big pot off your opponent when you hit your draw, it can be worth calling. This is the purpose of implied odds, looking ahead to the next street to determine whether or not to make an "unprofitable" call in the present.

If you think you're going to win a big pot off of your opponent if you make your hand, then you're considered to have good implied odds. If you don't think you're going to win a big pot off of your opponent if you make your hand, then you're considered to have bad implied odds.

Figuring out your exact implied odds is near impossible due to the number of variables at play. Still, you can calculate the minimum amount you need to win on future streets to make the play profitable.

What is the Difference Between Implied Odds and Pot Odds?

While they both sound similar and you use them at the same time, there is a difference between implied odds and pot odds.

Pot odds are what you use to determine a call's profitability on that particular street. You compare the equity of your hand against your opponent's range to the price you're being laid by the pot. If your equity is greater than the price you're being laid, you have a profitable call; if your equity is lower than the price you're being laid, then you have an unprofitable call. Let's look at an example.

You're on the river in a $1/$2 cash game, the pot is $100, and your opponent bets $100. To work out the price you're being laid; you follow this simple equation:

Pot Odds = Amount to call / (size of pot + call)

Pot Odds = $100 / ($200 + $100)

Pot Odds = $100 / $300

Pot Odds = 33.33%

If your hand has greater equity than the price you're being laid (in this example, 33.33%), then it's a profitable call.

On the other hand, implied odds look past the immediate pot odds and onto the turn and river cards. They look at the size of the pot you can potentially win if you make your hand. If you believe that you will win a big enough pot from your opponent when you make your hand, it can turn an unprofitable call (worked out using pot odds) into a profitable one. 

Implied odds are more of an art than a science, as it's impossible to know exactly how strong your opponent's hand is and whether or not they'll pay you off if you make your hand. You have to make your best guess based on all the information you have on your opponent to decide whether or not it's worth it to call for your implied odds. 

In these situations, you want your opponent to have plenty of chips behind, as the more chips they have, the bigger the potential pot you can win. If they don't have much money left, you aren't considered to have good implied odds.

How Do Implied Odds Work?

There isn't an exact way to figure out implied odds in a hand, so you must make some decisions based on how the hand has been played so far. How strong do you think your opponent is; do you think they'll pay you off if you make your hand? How many chips does your opponent have left? Is it enough to make it worth it when you make your hand? How obvious is your draw? Is it going to scare your opponent into checking when you make it? All of these questions need to be considered when figuring out your implied odds.

When trying to work out your implied odds in a hand, it's also important to have a good idea of the type of opponent you're playing against. Some opponent styles are better than others when it comes to calling for implied odds. If you know you're opponent's style and tendencies, you're better able to figure out whether or not they'll pay you off when you make the best hands.

Good Opponents

Calling Stations - These players will call down with any piece of the board against you, if you make your draw, you're almost certain to get another bet out of them.

Maniacs - Maniac players could use the card that makes your draw as a scare card to try and bluff you out of the pot, meaning that they don't necessarily have a hand for you to have implied odds.

Bad Opponents

Nits - These players are scared of any draw hitting, particularly flush draws, so they are very likely to check back/fold to a bet if you make your hand.

Tight-Passive Players - Tight players are always reluctant to put chips into the pot and will talk themselves into a fold more often than they will a call.

While it's not possible to work out your precise pot odds, what you can figure out is the minimum amount you need to make from your opponent to make chasing your draw profitable. Let's look at a hand example and the formula we use to figure this out.

On the turn, you have 4h3h on a board of Qh9c2hTs. The pot is $30, and your opponent bets $30. You each have another $400 in chips behind. In this situation, you have a flush draw, but you're not getting the right price to call. Knowing this, you decide to try and work out whether it can be worth it for you to call based on implied odds using this formula.

Minimum $ Required = ((1 / Hand Equity) * Amount to Call) - (Pot Size + Amount to Call)

Minimum $ Required = ((1 / 20%) * $30) - ($30 + $30)

Minimum $ Required = (5 * $30) - ($60)

Minimum $ Required = $150 - $60

Minimum $ Required = $90

Using this formula, you can see that the minimum amount you need to win from your opponent on the river to make the call profitable is $90. In this hand, you believe that your opponent has a very strong hand and will likely bet and call a raise on the river so you call. The river comes the Ah, your opponent bets, $75, you raise to $300, and your opponent calls with AcAs.

*If the Minimum $ Required is a negative number, then you have the pot odds to call and do not need implied odds*

In the above example, everything worked out on the river, and our opponent had a hand that could pay us off on the river. However, this may not happen every time, so to figure out whether we'll meet the minimum $ required, we can use an average. If we think our opponent will pay off a $200 bet at least 50% of the time, then on average, we will make at least $100 on the river, which exceeds the minimum amount we need to make.

What Are Reverse Implied Odds?

As the name implies, reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds. Instead of calculating how much you could potentially win if you make your hand, you calculate how much you could stand to lose if you make a weaker hand than your opponent. When we have a medium-strength hand or have the potential to make a medium-strength hand, we have to consider how often our opponent already has a better hand and will win a big pot off of us.

This is usually considered preflop when deciding which hands to call against a raise. For example, you open ATo in the cutoff and get 3-bet by the button. You’re deciding whether or not to call, and you consider what happens if you flop an Ace (arguably one of the best scenarios for this hand). While you have top pair in this scenario, your opponent could have AJ, AQ, AK, or AA, all of which would beat your AT and will likely go for three streets of value. This means that if you make your hand, you’re likely going to lose a big pot against your opponent, so the best decision is to fold.

It is often considered in multi-way pots, as the more players there are in a hand, the greater likelihood that someone has or will make a better hand than us. We can even look at it when drawing to a hand; consider the following situation.

It’s a $5/$10 cash game, and we’re in a four-handed pot on the turn. We have 4s3s on a board of 9d8s2sQc. The pot is $400, our opponent bets $200, and our two other opponents call. The action is back to us, and we have to call $200 into a pot of $1,000. If you look at the pot odds, this is a slam-dunk call, we have just over 20% equity, and we only need 16.66% to profitably call. However, with three other people in the pot, we need to consider whether or not someone else has a higher flush draw than us. If they do, we’re certainly going to lose at least one bet to them on the river and likely our whole stack. Even if someone doesn’t have a flush draw, if someone has a set or two-pair and we complete our flush with the same card that makes them a full house, we’re also likely to lose a big pot.

A good way to remember the difference is that implied odds can turn an unprofitable call into a winning one, and reverse implied odds can turn a profitable call into a losing one.


When you think about poker, it’s easy to only think about the action on any particular street; if you have the right odds to call, then you should, and if you don’t, then you shouldn’t. However, when you do this, you limit the amount of money you can make (or save) by factoring in implied odds and reverse implied odds. The best poker players try to look across the whole hand, both what has happened and what may happen on future streets, to make the most optimal decisions. The next time you’re playing WPT Global, try considering implied odds before you decide whether or not to chase your draw.