Odds & Outs
If you've got a hand which is probably behind but still has the potential of winning, you need to decide whether to fold or continue playing. This article explains the calculations required to do this, and therefore make the right decisions. First of all you have to identify the cards that will improve your hand ('outs'), and then calculate the odds of winning. Finally, you should calculate your odds of winning by taking into account the size of the pot, which can help you make mathematically correct decisions.
Outs are the cards left in the deck that improve your hand and hopefully win the pot at showdown.
- Example of your outs with a flush draw:
You are holding . The flop is: . If another heart appears on the turn or river, you make the flush, and unless another player has a full house or better, you'll win the hand. The board isn't paired, so none of our opponents can have a full house yet.
There are 13 cards of each suit in the deck. You hold two of them, and another two are on the board. Four of the 13 hearts have therefore already been dealt, meaning that there are still nine hearts left in the deck. This means you have nine outs.
- Example of your outs with a straight draw:
You have and the flop is . Now any ace or nine will complete your straight. There are four aces and four nines in the deck, so you have a total of eight outs.
If one card is missing to complete a straight, you have four outs (e.g. hole cards: , flop: , outs: ).
- Example of your outs with a straight draw and overcards:
You have , and the board is . One of the four queens in the deck will make you a straight. If your opponent has a middle pocket pair, e.g. , then you have additional outs, as any king or any jack would give you a higher pair. In this case, the number of your outs would increase to ten (four queens, three kings, and three jacks).
If you hit two pair (e.g. with on a board of ) there are still four cards that could make you a full house (three of a kind, plus a pair): and .
- Example of your outs with a set against a flush draw:
If you hit a set with and the board showing but are worried that your opponent has a flush, there are seven cards that could make you a full house or better (a seven, three remaining twos and three remaining jacks). If you don't hit any of your outs on the turn, then you'll have three additional outs, making a total of ten outs on the river
- Example of your outs with open-ended straight draw and flush draw:
You hold and the board is . You have both an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. This means you have nine outs to make the flush and eight outs to make the straight. At the same time, you have to consider that two cards are counted twice (in this case the and the ), which have to be subtracted. Therefore you have a total of 15 outs here, 9 + 6, rather than 9 + 8.