How important are implied odds in NLHE cash games? Guest Post by Carl “The Dean” Sampson

I recall some years ago in all of the major literature on NLHE that all of the authors at that time were discussing implied odds as being far more important than pot odds in this form of poker. This is still true today but the big difference is that fold equity has surpassed implied odds by some considerable margin. Implied odds are still the primary objective for a lot of online players that play NLHE……but they are making a big mistake.

For implied odds to be of vital importance then you need several factors to be in place. Firstly the stack depth needs to be considerable and secondly you need opponents that are present in the hand and who are weak enough to make big post flop mistakes. So it is clear to see that if the game is very tight and the average player pool performs quite well that implied odds literally drop through the floor so to speak.

At the end of the day it is vital that you select the correct strategy to use given the dynamics of the game that you happen to be playing in. If the game is full of tight playing nits that only ever stack off with really strong hands then your main source of profits will not stem from big pots. You will make your money or the bulk of your money without seeing a showdown.

At the end of the day you only win money in games like NLHE in one of two ways. This is either at showdown or before showdown. So you win by either showing the best hand or bluffing. Sometimes you have the best hand without reaching a showdown but that is a different matter. It is clear that in the modern game then fold equity is much more important than implied odds.

The game has changed considerably over the past few years and in all forms of poker then fold equity is prevailing now and is of paramount importance. Even short stack players are becoming more aggressive and are looking to exploit conventional play more and more. So in answer to the question “how important are implied odds”…….the answer is that too many players (especially in full ring cash games) are basing their entire play on them or a large percentage of their strategy.

This is a big error and one that is not in tune with the current game dynamic in many types of no limit hold’em cash games. This means that strategies like “fit or fold” and “set mining” are losing strategies in many no limit hold’em cash games. You have to move with the times or perish in any environment and poker is no different.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is an 888 poker professional player and writer and can also be seen on his G+ page at