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Counting Outs

Guest Post

Counting Outs
by Joseph Roberts

When playing on PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, or any other Online poker site, it is important to become familiar not only with poker rules, but also the various strategies needed to help you become a successful player. One of the fundamental skills most poker players learn -- no matter if the game is Texas hold’em, Omaha, stud, or any other poker game -- is how to count “outs” and act accordingly.

Literally, an “out” is a card that helps a player improve his or her hand to what is thought to be a winning hand. For example, let’s say you are playing hold’em and you hold 7c-5c. The flop comes 3c-Jd-6h. You have flopped an inside straight draw, meaning that if a four were to come that would give you a seven-high straight. Indeed, on this board if the next card were a four you would have the possible hand.

Among the unseen cards, there are four different fours: 4c, 4d, 4h, 4s. That means you have four “outs” to your straight, which as the best possible hand can be referred to as the “nuts.”

Let’s say the 4h came on the turn, giving you your straight. You push all in, but your opponent decides to call you with Ah-Jh. You have the nuts with one card to come, but your opponent has a flush draw. Any of the nine hearts (Kh, Qh, 10h, 9h, 8h, 7h, 5h, 3h, 2h) would give him a better hand. Thus we would say your opponent has nine “outs” or cards that will give him the best hand.

As mentioned above, it is important to know quickly how many outs will give you the best hand. Generally speaking, an inside straight draw (for which there are only four outs) is not such a good draw to pursue unless it doesn’t cost you much to see the next card. In our hand example, after the flop there are 46 unseen cards, only four of which are “outs.” That means for the turn card it is 11.5-to-1 against a four coming and given you that straight. If you are facing having to call a big bet in order to see that turn card, it is likely not such a good idea to call and hope for your four.

One way Texas hold'em players are able to estimate their outs quickly is to memorize certain, commonly repeated scenarios such as straight draws, flush draws, or other situations. An inside straight draw always means one has four outs. However, an open-ended straight draw has eight outs -- much better. For example, if you hold Q-J and the board comes K-10-2, any of the four aces or four tens (eight outs) will give you your straight.

Flush draws usually have nine outs, although sometimes not all nine of those outs are going to be good for the person drawing. For example, a third suited card that pairs the board might give another player a full house, thus beating the flush. Thus it is also good not only to be able to count your outs, but to recognize whether or not your outs are “clean” -- that is, they unmistakably give you the best hand.

So when playing drawing hands, be sure to know what your outs are. And if you don’t have enough outs, then it is probably time to get out!

posted by TripJax @ 12:00 AM,


At 9:32 AM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

This is so wrong in so many ways.

First off if you have a hand like KK, someone with Ace rag is going to call your all in jam. They count their outs vs KK as 85% because you know that fucking Ace is coming. If you just considered that you had three outs you would lose out on a lot of money.

I could go on as to the many other examples of where your thinking is off but you must learn by yourself. I am sure other readers can add to my analysis.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger TripJax said...

Before everyone gets in a tizzy, as I noted at the beginning of the post, this is a Guest Post and the article was not written by me. It is a paid advertisement. Think of it like the disclaimer you see after an infomercial. "The preceding was a paid advertisement...the content does not necessarily reflect the views of this network...". Or something like that. But thanks for the comment Wawfuls.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous KenP said...

Well, the Good Knight -- who's play can approach GOOD NIGHT! -- does overplay the comments. :)

It sound but basic information. For those who see it as something informative, add on the 42-rule. On the turn you compute Outs*4 and on the river draw Outs*2. This gives you a rough win-rate percentage which you then compare to your pot odds.


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