Implied odds are a pretty simple concept to understand, but usually they are either excuses to make horrible calls hoping for a miracle hit or worthless because you've already got the pot odds to call anyway.
However, there are some instances when it's not only correct to call because of implied odds, it's a mistake if you don't.
I have a pair of 8s in my hand. It doesn't matter what suit they are because I'm not playing them for a suit. I'm playing them for a set.
I'm in middle position. If I were in a tournament, especially later in a tournament, I'd probably raise here. My position isn't too bad, and I could probably call if someone decided to push on me and hope to win my flip, depending on chip stacks and the aggression of the player.
But this is a cash game on PokerStars, in a .25/.50 game, and I've already had three limpers in front of me. There's no real reason to raise here. What do I hope to win by raising? The blinds? The $1.50 in front of me from the limpers?
No, I've got set potential, and when you've got that, you don't mind having others along for the ride. A big pocket pair is, of course, a different story, but we've got a hand that we can pitch after the flop if it doesn't hit.
Ah, but the small blind spoils the party and raises $2.25 to $2.75. It's a pretty healthy raise, and it tells me he's either trying to steal the pot or he has a big hand he's trying to protect.
But the big blind calls, and the three limpers call in front of me, and so of course I'm calling because if I hit my set, I could get paid off pretty large here.
And here's where it gets interesting. The button raises again. It's a minimum raise, another $2.25 to go.
OK, clearly my 8s are beat. Someone's got to have a pocket pair higher than mine. But everyone else calls, just calls, and so I'm definitely calling. This is where implied odds come into play.
I'm getting a huge amount for my money - I probably have odds to call even without the implied odds and despite the 7.5-1 odds that I'll hit. But this is a multi-way pot where two players have demonstrated that they like their hands. This is exactly a time to mine for a set.
Let me also say that a limp and then a re-raise, but only a minimum re-raise, is about the stupidest thing you can do. A much better play would have been a push here. If he likes his hand enough to limp and then re-raise, he should like it enough to push, and at worse, everyone folds and he would have picked up a decent pot, or someone calls and he's probably way ahead.
Clearly, I would not have been able to call with my 8s had he pushed. But now I have implied odds to do exactly that with my small pair for another couple of bucks.
And the flop comes - - .
I think I just hit.
The re-raiser checks. OK. I have no idea why he's checking there. But three players follow him. Are you kidding me? If I don't get paid off on this hand, after all that pre-flop action, I'm quitting poker. Someone has to have a big pair here. Not everyone can have A-K or suited connectors. I check.
OK, the button, the re-raiser, bets $4.75. It's a small bet compared to the pot. Sigh.
And then the small blind raises $20.25 to $25.00. Ah. He's a tricky player. That's twice now that he's check-raised. Maybe I should do a hand on how check raising probably winds up costing you money most of the time.
Anyway, it's going to cost him here, unless he has quads. And then the player right in front of me raises $35.25 to $60.25 and goes all in! WTF?
Well, sure, OK. I call.
The small blind, who started all this, re-raised the minimum and then check raised again, folds. I have no idea where this guy learned how to play poker, though he did probably save himself a little money.
Well, it's just me and the player two spots away, and he shows A-7 for three 7s. Heh. He called a re-raise before the flop with A-7. He probably thought he was getting implied odds. This is how implied odds can hurt you.
Just because you're getting a good return on your money doesn't mean you have "implied" odds to call with any crap hand. Seriously, what flop could hit him that he'd be happy with? He even flopped three 7s, which was about as good as he could have hoped for - he'd probably still be beat with trip Aces given the pre-flop action - and I STILL beat him.
Implied odds means you have a hand that can flop big or flop nothing. I had exactly that, and I take in a huge pot.