Calculating outs in poker
July 3, 2019
Calculating the number of outs you have and the odds of hitting those outs is an essential texas hold’em poker strategy for all players. Calculating outs will help you make more informed decisions and increase your overall win rate.
What are ‘outs’?
An ‘out’ is any card which has been unseen by you which would improve your current hand in a way that it is likely to win.
For example, you may have a flush draw which is four cards of the same suit and need one more card of that suit to make a flush. In a deck of cards, there are 13 cards of each suit. If you have 4 of those cards then there are 9 remaining either with other players or in the deck. These 9 unseen cards are your ‘outs’.
Calculating the odds of your outs
Converting your outs to odds is a useful way to decide how to play your hand. To do this, simply divide the number of cards which will not improve your hand by the number of outs you have.
Using the example above we have 9 outs. If we say that only the flop has been dealt, then there are a total of 5 cards visible to you (the 2 cards dealt to you + the 3 cards in the flop). Therefore, there would be 38 unseen cards which will not produce a flush for your hand (52 cards in the deck – 5 visible cards – 9 outs).
We can now calculate the odds of our outs by dividing 38 by 9 = 4.22. You have a 4.22/1 chance of hitting an out which is around 19.1%
If you’re not great at doing math in your head, especially when under pressure at the table, you can use the ‘2/4 rule’. This is a simpler way to roughly calculate the odds of hitting an out based on whether the flop or turn card has been dealt. If just the flop has been dealt, multiple the number of outs by 4 and if the turn card has been dealt, multiple the number of outs by 2.
Once you know the odds of your outs, you need to calculate the potential returns and determine whether or not it’s worth calling.
For example, if there is £1000 in the pot and it will cost you £500 initially to call, the odds would be 1000/500, or 2/1.
To convert these odds to a percentage, first convert the fractional odds to decimal (2/1 = 3.0) and then decimal to a percentage, 3.0 = 33.33% (100 divided by 3).
To determine whether or not a call is profitable or not, the percentage of hitting an out must be greater than the pot percentage. In this case we have:
This shows us that it is not worth calling.
However, there are many other factors which come into play and that should have an impact on your decision to call or not such as table position and the other players still in the hand.