reverse implied odds

What are Reverse Implied Odds & Why Do They Matter?

You’re probably familiar with implied odds, but what about reverse implied odds?

If you are not familiar with implied odds, I recommend checking out How to Use Implied Odds Like a Veteran Pro before reading on.

Reverse implied odds can be a tricky concept to wrap your head around, but today’s article will make it easier for you by covering:

  • What Are Reverse Implied Odds?
  • Why Do Reverse Implied Odds Matter?

This 5-minute read will help you avoid losing plays that might otherwise seem profitable.

Let’s dive in!

What are Reverse Implied Odds?

Reverse implied odds refer to the amount of money you may lose on future streets after calling a bet. Like implied odds, reverse implied odds are an extension of the concept of pot odds.

Reverse implied odds are (obviously) the exact opposite of implied odds, which refer to the amount of money you may win on future streets after calling a bet.

Let’s run through a quick example of each to cement your understanding.

Basic Implied Odds Example

Suppose you’re playing $1/$2 with $500 effective stacks.

You have 7♣ 6♣ on the turn with the board reading A♠ 8♣ 5 K. Your opponent bets $50 into a $100 pot, which means you need 25% equity for calling to be immediately profitable.

Unfortunately, your open-ended straight draw is only about 17% to hit. Since that’s less than 25%, calling won’t show an immediate profit…

…but that doesn’t mean it’s not profitable.

Your opponent still has a lot of money behind. So, if you hit your straight on the river, there’s a good chance you will win more money from him. You may even win his whole stack if he has a super-strong hand like a set or two pair.

That potential win, and the expected value (EV) it adds to your hand, is what implied odds are all about.

Basic Reverse Implied Odds Example

You’re in that same $1/$2 game with $500 effective stacks.

You have 6 4 on the turn with the board reading A♠ J 7 2. Four players are in the hand and one of them bets $75 into a $100 pot. Both of the other players call and the action is on you.

It will cost you $75 to call to win a $325 pot, which means you need 18.75% equity for calling to show an immediate profit. You will hit a flush on the river 19.5% of the time, so calling must be profitable, right?

Not necessarily. With three other players in the hand, it is possible that one of your opponents has a superior flush draw. If that is the case and a heart falls on the river, you will almost certainly lose at least another bet. Reverse implied odds refer to those potential losses.

The takeaway from these examples is this: Implied odds can turn a losing call into a profitable call. Reverse implied odds can turn a winning call into a clear fold.

Why Do Reverse Implied Odds Matter?

Understanding reverse implied odds can help you build your ranges in more profitable ways. Let’s get into the practical realm with a more in-depth hand example.

Say you hold the J 5 after defending from the Big Blind against the Button raise and the flop comes T 9♣ 5.  You check and face a 66% pot-sized c-bet.

Consider what will happen if a Jack comes on the turn to give you two pair:

  1. On any Jack turn, both KQ and 87 will become straights.
  2. Should the turn fall the J, all of the flush draws in your opponent’s range will complete as well.

Because of these potential nightmare scenarios, you would be correct to say that this J 5 is suffering from significant reverse implied odds here.

Something interesting happens when this is the case: you may be better off calling with weaker hands that don’t have the same reverse implied odds.

For example, 5 3 is a much better calling hand than J 5 in this scenario despite being the same pair with a lower kicker. If you hit two pair on a 3 turn, no straights complete. You have the same issue as before on the flush-completing 3, specifically, but you also have some implied odds for when you do improve.

Take a look at this PioSolver simulation I prepared for this spot:


Let’s zoom in on how it plays J5-suited, specifically:


You can see that J5-suited without a flush draw is a fold roughly 73% of the time.

Now, if you glance over to 53-suited on the grid, you can see that it is basically a pure call.

53s for reverse implied odds example

(Note for solver nerds: I’m certain that 3.499% folding frequency is noise.)

The Possibility of Being Bluffed Also Adds Reverse Implied Odds (Another Example)

Let’s take another example to further exemplify reverse implied odds and demonstrate why thinking ahead is so important.

Suppose you defend your Big Blind against a Button open-raise again, this time with 6 6♣.

You check and call a small bet on a K 9♠ 3 flop. The turn is the 2 with $100 in the pot. You check and face a 75% pot double barrel.

Let’s say you run the numbers with a poker equity calculator and have 39% equity against the range you estimate for your opponent.

You need 30% equity to call profitably based on your pot odds. Should you call?


You might have the raw equity required to call, but you need to factor in how often you will face a triple barrel on the river and how often you are going to improve.

Unless you plan to call down with pocket sixes (which would be ambitious at best), you will lose the pot every time your opponent bets on the river. Moreover, you only have 2 outs to improve, so it’s unlikely you will get bailed out by the river card.

These factors transform the seemingly profitable turn call into a fairly trivial fold.

Final Thoughts

It is always a balancing act between implied odds and reverse implied odds (along with countless other factors) when deciding what to do versus a bet or raise. But two concepts can help shape the margins of your strategy, and there is a lot of EV to be gained by understanding them better.

That’s all for this article! I hope you learned something new from it! As usual, if you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below and I will do my best to reply.

If you’re not done learning, here is what I recommend reading next: When Should You Slow-Play a Strong Hand?

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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