Learning the fundamentals of counting outs and calculating poker odds is one of the important steps on your poker journey to becoming a competent player. The ability to calculate how many poker outs you have to win a hand in an easy and useful way is a basic but most crucial skill for any professional online poker player.
What are ‘outs’ in poker?
Outs are all the possible cards you can use to improve your current poker hands in a way that is likely to win. In simpler terms, any unseen card which will bring you the best hand is called an out. All you have to do is count the number of cards that are remaining in the deck and can be dealt face-up by the dealer, which will give you the best possible hand.
Being able to figure the poker hand range of your opponents’ cards would make it easier for you to determine your outs. Although you won't be able to figure out the exact cards that other players will be holding, your out calculation will never be accurate. So, you would have to hypothesize the hand range that you could potentially be up against.
How to count your poker outs?
If you want to win at the poker game, it is something that you must learn. Calculating the outs in a poker game is a simple and fast process. All you have to do is just see what kind of a hand you have on the flop and guess the number of cards among the unseen 47 cards that can improve your poker hand. Those numbers will be your poker outs.
Poker Outs Calculation in Examples
Let’s say the flop is K♣ 10♣ 8♦, and you have 6♠ 6♦. To improve your hand, you will need a set, i.e. 6 on the turn or the river. Since the deck of cards has four 6s, and you are holding two of them, so you have two outs (4-2 = 2) to collect a set ( 6♣ 6♥).
You have 9♣ 8♣ and hit two pairs on the flop of 8♠ 9♦ K♥. Although you might already have a good hand, still there is a room for improvement, and you have four ways of making it to a full house. Any of the following cards will improve your hand to a full house 9♠ 9♥ 8♦ 8♥.
Suppose you have 6♥ 7♥, the flop is 10♣ 9♥ A♥. In this hand, you will have 12 outs. 9 outs ( 2♥ 3♥ 4♥ 5♥ 8♥ 9♥ J♥ Q♥ K♥) to make flush. In a 52 card deck, there are 13 cards of each suit. You have two hearts in your hand and two on the flop, so that leaves 9 (13-2-2) remaining hearts in the deck. Therefore, you have 9 outs. And 3 outs to make a straight, i.e. 8♣ 8♠ 8♦. We did not include 8♥ as we counted it in outs for a flush.
Half-outs in poker
Half-outs are those outs in which you might think you have stronger hands, but it can make your opponent's hand stronger than yours. Let’s see an example:
Your hole cards are 6♠ 7♠ and the community cards are 8♥ 9♥ 3♦. You have four 5s and four 10s that will give you a straight. So, you will have eight outs. Yet, hitting a straight can also make your opponent a flush, which could not win you a hand. Therefore, the 10♥ and the 5♥ should not be considered full outs, but rather as half-outs, giving you a total of just seven outs. Counting these as half-outs for those times when you are going to make a straight yet still lose to your opponent’s flush.
Hidden outs in poker
This is the situation which you will frequently face when playing poker. Hidden outs are those cards which do not give you best-winning hands but instead will hurt your opponent’s chances of winning.
For instance, you have Q♥ Q♣ and on the board are 4♠ 9♣ 7♦ K♥. Your opponent has 7♠ 4♥ which gives him two pairs. If you get A♦ A♠ on the river street, you can be saved; on the other hand, you can also get a better hand pairing either the King or a 9. This will weaken your opponent’s hand and giving you a higher two pair. Therefore, a 9 or a King would be called hidden outs.
What are poker odds?
Poker odds can be defined as the likelihood you might expect to win or lose or the price on offer. Also, you may decide how often you need to have a strong hand to call a bet. Players who are just starting the game of poker are often stuck in a situation to decide whether to call a particular hand or not.
Beginner players mostly make their choices completely on what cards they think their opponents are holding. On the other hand, professional players will also calculate the poker odds. To play poker like a solid player, you should always think about the pot odds, whether those you are offering to your opponents or those being offered to you.
Odds in the game of poker cannot help you win but will help you in making informed decisions. If your odds of winning the game is 8:1, it means you will win the game one out of eight times. It also means that if you win the game, you will get $8 for every $1 you spend.
Calculating the Poker Odds
Once you know your outs, it is time to calculate the odds. Let’s say, your hole cards are a K♣ A♣ and the flop cards are 5♣ 8♣ 5♥. Every suit contains a total of 13 cards and four cards of each suit. So, there are 13 club cards in the deck, and you have four of them already exposed in front of you. In this case, the number of outs is 9. This means 9 cards can help you to complete your hand.
You have 2 cards in your hand and three on the flop, which means there are 47 (52 - 5) unseen cards left.
Although your opponent is holding two of his hole cards, we will ignore this. This is because the only numbers that matters are the number of cards you can see and the remaining cards left in the deck.
Next thing to do is, subtract the number of hidden cards left in the deck from the number of outs you have: 47 unseen cards - 9 winning cards = 38. With 9 outs and 47 hidden cards, there are 9 cards that let you win and 38 cards that will cause you to lose. So, the odds of getting you the cards to make a flush are 38 to 9. This simplifies down to 4.22 odds. This means your odds of receiving a card is 4.22 to 1.
Method 2: The Rule of Four and Two
The 4 and 2 method is the much easier way to calculate poker odds. It states that you multiply your outs by 4 when you both have turn and river to come. On the other hand, multiply your outs by 2, when you have one card to go, i.e. turn to the river.
Step 1: With the example above, to make our club flush, you have 9 outs.
Step 2: Multiply the number of outs by 4 (9 x 4)= 36. This means you have 36% of making the winning hand.
Step 3: Now, that your club did not hit on the turn, we move on the river card. Well, it's even easier. All you have to do is take the number of outs 9 and multiply with 2 = 18. Which means you have 18% chance you will hit your card on the river.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Counting outs and poker odds are another one of those skills that need practice and experience in order to become a professional poker player. Although it might seem overwhelming at the beginning, learning how to use them is worth it in the long run. The more your practice, the better you will be at it. Once you understand the concept, like many poker techniques, you will need to practice it regularly to get good at using it effectively when you play poker online. Calculating the outs and odds during your gameplay will become an intuitive aspect of your thinking process with enough practice.
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