Implied odds

Often times I will make really big calls with draws. In fact, I get a lot of weird looks after making a pot sized call o...

Posted May 09, 2012


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Often times I will make really big calls with draws. In fact, I get a lot of weird looks after making a pot sized call on the turn and snap folding the river. People constantly underestimate the value of their draws especially when there is a good chance our opponent has a big hand.

We actually want the players we are calling against to have the nuts—there is much more of a chance that we will get paid off. Many players at the lower levels do not realize that when a draw comes in their hand becomes a bluff catcher--no matter how strong their holding was on a previous street. You can check out the Deuce Plays episode “Bluff Catcher” for a further explanation of this concept and I will be expanding upon a bluff catching tweet in a later article.

When evaluating whether or not to call with a draw we must calculate our implied odds—the money that we will make by a future bet on a later street. I use a basic formula to determine if I will call with a draw. I call it the “Forty Five Unseen Card Rule”. It is not exact but it is more precise than some other well known techniques. Simply put, I divide forty five by my number of outs. Say we have a flush draw on the turn (nine outs). We divide 45/9 giving us one chance in five. This means we must make 4 to 1 on our opponents’ turn bet size. Let’s look at the below example.
We have 7 8 and are out of position on the turn. The board reads A K 2 3 . Our opponent bets $150 into a $200 pot and he has $800 left in his stack. We have nine outs and need to make 4 to 1 to call. We multiple $150 by four and get $600. On the turn we call $150 to win $350 immediately so if we hit we need to bet $250 ($600-$350) on the river to make our turn call profitable.

Let’s look at a bigger draw—say we have 6 7 on a Q T 4 3 board. We now have twelve outs and divide 45/12 giving us a 1-in-3.75 chance of hitting or 2.75 to 1. If our opponent bets $200 into a $200 pot we must make $550 total (2.75 x $200) so when we hit bet at least $150 ($550-$400) on the river to make your turn call +EV.

This process may look a little daunting at first but if you practice and can do simple addition and division it is a fairly fast and accurate way to precisely evaluate how much you have to bet on a future street to make the previous street’s call profitable. There is a detailed explanation of this math in Deuce Plays episode “Draws”. I also go into the concept of reverse implied odds (the chances of hitting your draw and NOT be good) and how the math effects those scenarios.

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