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Reverse Implied Odds

As the name suggests, reverse implied odds are the opposite of implied odds.  This concept refers to hands and draws that may lose additional money in future betting rounds even if the desired hand is hit.  

While based in math, reverse implied odds is best explained conceptually.  Crunching the numbers for these situations involves so much guesswork that the results are largely irrelevant.  Thus, what follows should be thought of as a reverse implied odds guide.

reverse Implied Odds in Poker

Reverse Implied Odds Hands in Holdem (Pre-Flop)

Big card hands that are easily dominated are often referred to as having reverse implied odds.  Hands like A♠J♣, K♥T♠, Q♦J♥ and the like are easily dominated by hands like A♠K♥ and A♣Q♣.

The reason these hands are called reverse implied odds hands is because when they make a top pair type hand, they will often be out-kicked by a dominating hand.  

Top pair can't simply always be folded in these scenarios, so the player holding the dominated hand will often lose money calling with his second best pair.  This is especially bad in No Limit games where future bets increase exponentially.

For example, let's say Player 1 calls a $20 raise holding Q♦J♠ in a $2/5 NLHE game.  His opponent, Player 2, bets $30 on a flop of Q♥6♠2♦ and Player 1 calls.  Player 1 is fairly likely to hold the best hand here, but it may cost him 2 more large bets to find out.  Often he will end up calling another $50-$150 only to find his opponent holds A♠Q♠ or K♠Q♠ and had him out-kicked the whole way.

Because of this possibility it is often advisable to play these hands cautiously, and frequently fold them pre-flop.

Reverse Implied Odds with Weak Draws

The other common application of reverse implied odds is with weak draws.  With some draws it is possible to hit the hand being drawn at only to lose to a better hand.

If a player draws to a straight when there is a flush possible, such as holding 7♠6♦ on K♥5♥4♥, he is setting himself up for a reverse implied odds situation.  

He may hit his straight with the 3♥ or 8♥ only to lose to a flush.  Not to mention someone may have a flush already and the player with the straight draw will lose even if the straight-completing card is off-suit.  Making the straight becomes doubly bad because money is lost drawing at the hand and paying off when it hits but is still second best.

This is particularly prevalent in Omaha games where the nut draws are frequently out there.  In these games even draws as good as king-high flush draws should often be folded.

Common Reverse Implied Odds Situations

Some common examples of reverse implied odds poker situations are listed here.  These hands should frequently be folded, and when played should be played carefully.

  • Holding straight draws when flushes or flush draws are possible.
  • Drawing to straights or flushes when the board is paired, especially in Omaha.
  • Drawing to non-nut flushes and straights in Omaha.
  • Drawing to the bottom end of a one-liner in Holdem. (i.e. holding A♠7♥ on 8♦9♠T♥)

Basically any time it seems likely you may hit the hand you're going for and still lose, it is often better to fold.

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