Calculating your outs in poker

Ever play poker? Online or live? Then you know that crazy feeling you get when you’ve got a somewhat decent hand and you need just one card to make it a winning one.

Your opponent has you beat, but there are still opportunities for you to win if you can catch the right card. Those cards are called outs. This is a pretty easy concept to understand if you walk through an example, so here we go.

Let’s pretend that your hand is a Queen of clubs and a Nine of clubs.The board shows Ac, Kc, 6h, and 4h.At this point you don’t necessarily know your opponent’s hand, but based on how he’s been betting, you’re pretty sure he has at least a pair of kings. He might even have a pair of aces. If you bet, and he calls and turns over a winning hand, you’ve got one more card to see that could help you. But just because there’s one more card, it doesn’t mean there is just one opportunity to win.

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Remember, there are 13 different cards per suit in a deck. In this scenario, the only thing that could save you are clubs to help you complete a flush. The deck started with 13 clubs, but you know there are already four clubs out of the deck. Remember, there are two in your hand and two on the board. That leaves a total of nine available cards to help you win. Or, nine outs.

Outs are not definitive. Remember, you don’t know what the burn cards were, nor do you know what other players might have been holding. But assuming that you actually had all those outs to help you, it’s easy to calculate.

And it’s even more helpful when you use your outs to calculate odds. Here’s how to do it.

Using the above example, you’ve determined you have nine cards that can help you. That’s nine out of a total of 52 cards. You need to subtract the two cards in your hand that are known, as well as the four cards on the table that are also known. Don’t worry about subtracting your opponent’s cards. They are unknown at this point, so you’d treat them as you would burn cards or the hole cards of players who have folded. That leaves 46 cards. That mean there are nine cards that could lead to a win and 37 that won’t. So your odds of winning are 37:9 or, if you wan to simplify it, 4:1. That means you are four times more likely to lose than you are to win.

Knowing how many outs you have is really useful for making smarter betting decisions at the poker tables. The more outs in your corner, the easy it is to place a bet confidently. Try some basic outs calculations the next time you play online poker and see if it takes your game to a new level.

Laura Barton

Laura Barton is a self-declared "adventurer". Highly energetic and unpredictable, you will never find her without something to read on her hands. She loves casinos, after all it's in her blood: her father was a Las Vegas mogul and a former owner of some of the largest casino entertainment chains in the US. Loves rock climbing, surfing and playing drums.