If you’ve ever watched live poker you may have wondered how TV programmes and live streams know the exact odds of every player at the table winning? Simply put, it’s by calculating outs and generating odds on the basis of them.
If you’re an amateur player or want to improve your game it’s imperative that you learn how to count your outs and calculate your odds of a winning hand.
What is a poker out?
A poker out is quite simply any unseen card that will improve a player’s hand and increase their chance of winning that round. If you want to progress beyond being a complete beginner you will have to know how many outs you have at the start of every hand.
A hand with 4 clubs has 9 potential outs to make a flush. There are 13 clubs in a deck and 4 have been seen.
To learn outs you need to know every poker hand (pictured below) and how they rank against each other. Once you have committed these to memory you need to practice reading the table, working out if there are possible flushes or pairs.
As with all things, the more time you spend counting, the better you will be, and the simpler it will become.
How to count your outs
Calculating poker outs is basic maths, the more outs available to you the better the chances you have of winning.
Counting your odds is all about assessing which cards are left in the deck and what hands you can make with the remaining cards.
If you have 2 diamonds and you get 2 on the flop, there are still 9 diamonds left in the deck. This means you have a total of 9 outs.
What are poker odds?
Poker is essentially a game of odds: every single hand you play, every card you receive, etc. has a big effect on your odds and the probability of winning that particular hand.
The odds are a player’s likelihood of winning a round with the cards in their possession.
How to calculate your odds
Once you have mastered counting your outs then it is time to calculate what your chances are of the next card out of the deck being one you need. When it comes to odds there’s a simple formula you can use to get a decent estimation of what your chances are to improve your hand.
You multiply your outs by 3 and add 8 to the result. (Out * 3) + 8 =% chance of winning the hand (or at least getting the hand you wanted).
Example: if your current hand contains a pair of 3s and you want to make three of a kind then you know there are two 3s left in the deck, so you have two outs. You have two cards in your hand are 4 are visible on the table, from the turn and the flop. This means there are 46 cards left unseen.
Apply the formula: your chances of getting your 3 of a kind are: (2 x 3) + 8 = 14%.
While it may feel wrong, it’s important to ignore the possible cards your opponents are holding, as out and betting calculations are only judged by the cards you hold and what is exposed on the table.
What constitutes good odds
Learning what your odds are is just the first step, it’s equally important to know whether to call your bet, fold, or go all in.
Spotting good odds is simple, and the better the odds, the higher your chance of having a winning hand.
A good rule of thumb is:
- Under 25% is risky and folding is your best bet.
- Between 25% and 40% means it’s best to be cautious with your betting.
- Over 40% give an excellent chance of winning, and going all in is a serious possibility.