One of your archest enemies: the reverse implied odds

March 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Poker School

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The reverse implied odds are one of the reasonably good player’s biggest enemies. In order to understand why the reverse implied odds are so dangerous, first you need to understand the concept of implied odds.
Implied odds justify calls which appear to be negative EV ones in the short run. Let’s see an example in this sense: you pick up a pair of small cards and you decide to see the flop on it, even though the hand itself doesn’t carry any EV+ under the given circumstances. If you do not make a set on the flop, your hand will be left hopelessly behind and you know that in the majority of the cases you will not make your set, yet you still make the call. Why is this a good move then? Shouldn’t you only call on EV+ situations?
The implied odds justify this negative EV call and here’s why: in a few cases, you make your set on the flop. In those few cases – due to the disguised nature of your hand – you will take down some huge pots. The money that you pocket on those few occasions will more than make up for the money lost on the many times that you miss your set.
Other great implied odds hands are suited connectors and suited one gappers.

The reverse implied odds work exactly vice-versa. I bet you’ve heard of hands that are capable of winning you many small pots but they will lose you huge ones every now and then. These hands are reverse implied odds hands and they are extremely dangerous. Such a hand is the A,Q. If you were wondering why many of the poker professionals place the A,Q suited lower in their top 10 starting hands list than it is mathematically justifiable: it’s because of the reverse implied odds that it carries.

Good hands which are dominated on the flop are classic examples for reverse implied odds. Because the A,Q is a hand which tends to make good hands which end up being dominated, we’ll use that in our example.
You have A,Qo in your pocket and you take it to the flop. The flop lands 4,A,7 and you know your hand stands a pretty good chance to be the best at the table. You’re faced with a bet on the flop and you know that you have to call it. If the hand was to end right there, your call would be an easy one to make. Unfortunately, here’s what happens.
You call your opponent’s half-pot-size bet on the flop and you see a 5 fall on the turn. Your opponent bets again. At this time, your logic works like this: ‘my hand was the best on the flop, and the 5 isn’t likely to have changed anything’, so you call. The river comes another brick (like a 3) and your opponent bets again. Again – you see no reason to back off, so you call him yet again. He turns over A,K and you’re done for.
The perversity of issue lies in the fact that being in position, your opponent has the option to control the pot by stopping any sort of betting on later streets if he feels he’s beat. What this means is that if you do happen to have the best hand indeed, you’ll win small pots on it. Whenever you’re dominated, you’ll lose huge pots.

Some hands are even trickier, making the spotting of the reverse implied odds even more difficult. If you hit a good hand on the flop which stands a slight chance of improving further, your predicament is bigger still. Your opponent holds a hand which already has you beat or has a truckload of outs for improving past your hand. Because of the hand that you have and because of the fact that it can actually improve further, your opponent will probably squeeze the maximum out of his implied odds at your expense.
What’s the best way to spot reverse implied odds hands? Just picture yourself in the shoes of your opponent and imagine him trying to make the best of his implied odds when going up against you.