Implied Odds Are Key In NLHE Games

Written by Carl “The Dean” Sampson

One of the key differences between games like limit hold’em and no limit hold’em is in how the importance of pot odds and implied odds shifts. In NLHE ring games then implied odds are a far bigger issue in that form of poker……that and fold equity. Do not get me wrong here……I am not saying that implied odds are the be all and end all of no limit ring games. Many intermediate players make that mistake in areas like full ring games by playing too tightly and not opening their games enough to take advantage of conventional play and fold equity.

Because of the structure of the betting then pot odds form a vital component in limit hold’em but they reduce massively in importance once you switch to NLHE. This is for the very obvious reason that bets and raises and a far greater percentage of the pot size. If you make a $10 bet on the turn in $5-$10 limit then there could be something like $60 in the pot and so your opponent would be getting pot odds of 7/1.

When you combine that with the implied odds then it is correct to call with a wide range of hands on the turn and is why there are far more outdraws in this form of poker because it is mathematically correct to chase many types of hands. However if there were a $60 pot in NLHE then a bet may be anywhere in the range of $30 to $60 and so this bet sizing means that the pot odds that your opponent will receive will be in the region of 2/1 to 3/1. Clearly this is not enough to pursue many hands on a pot odds basis alone.

What this means is that you need to have a plan in place and strategies for winning pots without making big hands. The mathematics of the game dictate that big hands simply do not come around often enough and so it is implied odds, understanding ranges and fold equity which  become the three key areas and especially ranges and fold equity. This is seen even more in six max more so than full ring games.

The level of implied odds also differs widely based on the skill level of your opponents as well. For example if a very strong player opens with K-K UTG and you have say 7-6s on the button then should you call? Well that isn’t an easy question to answer and looking at the hand in a vacuum isn’t instructive. Weak players and novices will be far more likely to stack off with overpairs than strong players would in deep stack situations. So it is clear that the skill levels of your opponents have a huge impact on implied odds as well.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson who plays poker at www.pokerstars.co.uk

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