Look for Implied Odds, not Pot Odds When Calling

Raising middle pairs over limpers in the early stages (regardless of buy-in) is somewhat risky.Set mining can be a profitable play for you when you can keep your entry costs low. Most of these calls in early stages are correct for implied odds strategy. A five times raise is not a big hit to their stack and you mostly just don’t narrow the field enough. What usually happens here is a tough decision to continuation bet or not into a large pot so many over cards on the board resulting in tough decisions.Sure you can open raise, but if there are multiple limpers I would just avoid attacking them when everyone is comfortable stacks and mzones.

You also can’t forget about the 2:1 odds. If the pot is 1.5BBs pre flop, there is 1 limper, that makes it 2.5BBs. You now decide to raise to three big blinds, making the pot five.5BBs and the limper (assuming everyone else folds) has to call 2BBs to see a flop with 5.5BBs in it. As at result he is getting good odds to make a call here at nearly 3:1.

You are pretty much never more than a 3:1 under dog pre flop, which is what Gus is on about. However there is a problem. Or rather a couple of problems.

Firstly your problem is bet-ability of a marginal hand. This could mean rags facing off against ace king. The flop comes down 5 J Q. You are in front by quite a long way, but can you put much money into this pot? What about the continuation bet? But what if you just bet into the pot? Then what are you going to do when he smooth calls? Do you fire again on the turn? It’s an expensive guessing game now with just bottom pair?

But what if you have something like pocket threes pre-flop? There are 3 over cards (which statistcially are likely to have missed your opponent), but how much can you bet at this situation?

Sure you had right odds preflop here, but you are assuming you can get to showdown as well. But when everyone has a lot of chips you can’t do it. You still have 3 betting rounds before you get to fifth street.

But that leads to the second problem. You are out of position and that’s not good poker tournament strategy. This means when you do make you hand you will win less. You will also lose more chips, because your opponent can bet you off a better hand because he has position.

So really, for these deep stack situations, pot odds are completely irrelevant IMHO. Implied odds is what you need to be looking at here.. i.e. what is the size of my stack and my opponents stack. I’ll call with a massive range when the bet is 5% or less of the effective stack. Even if they have pocket aces, my small cards and when a huge pot. If they have AA, and I want to be playing my little cards. But if the raise is getting up to around 10% of my stack, then I fold all the weired stuff, except PPs. Still, I am only concerend about the size of the bet compared to my effective tournament stack.

My cards may be 56s and be up against big slick. But unless I make and OESD, Flush draw or 2 pair or better, I will be surrendering pretty much every pot on the flop especially if I am OOP. Once in a while you might just want to check here if you hit a low pair, especially if you can put your opponent on a hand.

Even in Every Hand Revealed, Gus Hansen regrets a lot of his calls from players who raise early position. Understandably, these regrets come about as soon as you see the flop which invariably are difficult to play. Now he has physical tells to work with, and, as mentioned, he is Gus Hansen. We don’t have physical tells and we are not Gus. Importantly also, our opponents are not Gus’ opponents. Whether you are up against people who are capable of folding strong hands or whether they just can’t surrender TPGK is an important distinction.

To sum it up, pre-flop pot odds are less important than post flop implied odds. You might choose to play a given hand anyway, but do it for the reason of implied odds and not pot odds, if that makes sense. You have to know how to calculate poker odds when getting into hands like this becuase it may very well determine your long term success in tournaments. Just knowing Poker rules are not enough to win, you need strategy too.