Implied Odds Concepts In Online Poker Tournament Strategy

Implied Odds are the Foundation of No Limit Hold'em Poker Tournament Strategy.
Handy Tips to Better Understand and Use This Concept Here.

Implied odds are not only a foundation of the no-limit Texas Holdem poker game, they are critical to your online poker tournament success. This article looks at implied odds in two ways.

  • Firstly we will cover what this means to your online poker tournament strategy at various stages of the tournament based on your stack size in relation to the blinds.
  • Secondly we will look at implied odds in poker tournament strategy in relation to individual opponents – some people offer higher implied odds than others!

Let us start with a quick definition of Implied Odds. This describes the total extra in chips (or cash) you stand to make if you win a hand over and above what is already in the pot. The idea is that you can call a bet when you do not have the correct pot odds to do so, since you anticipate that the extra money you win if you make your hand (for example a flush) will give the initial call a positive expectation.

As simple example would be that you hold 6-7 and the flop comes 4-5-K. Your opponent bets and you (correctly) assume he has a king in his hand. The pot is 150 chips and it costs you 50 chips to call, making your pot odds 3/1. Your chance of spiking a 3 or an 8 to make your straight are 4.7/1. Making this call has a negative expectation (it will lose money over time).

However, your opponent is likely to bet again on the turn if an 8 comes and probably call at least one raise from you. If you expect to win an additional 200 chips (on average) from your opponent if you make your straight the true odds of your flop call are 50/350 or 7/1. The implied odds have turned a negative expectation call into a positive expectation call.

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Poker Implied Odds: What Hands Are Most Affected?

The kind of hands which rely heavily on implied odds are small pairs, suited connectors and to a lesser extent suited aces.

  1. With small pairs you are approximately 8/1 against flopping a set. However when you do you have the potential to win a big pot – for example from an opponent with an over-pair. Since you will not win a pot every single time when you hit a set you need to ensure that you have bigger implied odds than 8/1, most experienced players would need between 12/1 and 15/1 to make a call before the flop with a small pair. This means that your opponent in the hand needs to have 12 to 15 times the size of the pre-flop raise to give you the correct implied odds to play.
  2. Suited connectors can also win big pots if they hit the flop hard. A hand such as 6-7 suited is great to play in position during the early stage of a tournament. Where implied odds are concerned we need even bigger potential to win a big pot than with small pairs with these hands. The reason for this is that many times you will flop a strong draw which might mean having to call another bet on the flop or the turn. Since you expect to be paid off if you hit your straight or flush this can be worthwhile – but it can also be expensive. If you plan to call with suited connectors before the flop then make sure you have the potential to win 20 to 25 times your investment.
  3. Suited aces are more dangerous implied odds hands. The problem is that you may hit your hand with an ace on the flop (or hit your small kicker for 2nd pair) and not know whether you are ahead or behind in the hand. The other problem is that when a flush does come it will be obvious to many opponents. Make sure you have 20 times the initial investment available before considering playing these hands.

As you can see the requirement for 12, 20 or even 25 times your initial call means that the best time to call with these hands is early in the poker tournament. As the blinds rise and the stacks get shallow you no longer have the potential profit to make calling with these hands worthwhile.

Poker Implied Odds: The Effect Of Your Opponents


The other important concept when using implied odds in your online poker tournament strategy is how likely your opponent is to actually pay you off. The important thing to remember here is this – some opponents offer higher implied odds than others.

At the extremes you have the very wild and loose players who may well play for their entire stack with an over-pair.

These opponents offer the highest implied odds of all. Other players are tight and will only play premium hands – you need to watch the table to find out how easily these players will get away from their big holdings. The type who waits for aces or kings but will never fold them after the flop offers very high implied odds if you spike a set against them. A weak and tight opponent may well fold at the first sign of pressure – here your implied odds are not as big as you think.

Finally it is a good idea not to count 2 or more stacks when calculating your implied odds. For example if 2 players are in the pot with 6 times the initial bet each in their stack you should not consider your potential gain for spiking a set to be 12/1. This is because you are unlikely to get both opponents stacks, sure it will occasionally happen – but as the exception rather than the rule. Count one stack only and you will not go far wrong.

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