Odds, Outs and Probabilities

Poker is a game based on decisions. The idea is to make as many correct decisions and as few mistakes as possible. The player who makes fewer mistakes than his opponent will win in the long run.

Probabilities, i.e. odds and outs, are the basis for making right decisions and avoiding mistakes. They are extremely helpful when it comes to answering the following questions:

  • What is the probability that I have the best hand?
  • What is the probability that I will get the best hand with one of the upcoming community cards?
  • Do I currently have the better or worse hand?

A player who doesn't base his decisions primarily on mathematical probabilities will not be able to win in the long run.

You could also play hundreds of thousands of poker hands to learn about the occurrence of certain events in a "practical" manner. But the number of hands played has to be practically infinite to ensure that you achieve the right probabilities.

There are however a few mathematical principles that help you to determine precise probabilities. Don't worry, we'll try to keep it as simple as possible.

Let's start with the odds pre-flop: They help you to determine whether you have a good or a bad hand. Especially in the late stages of a tournament where there are often a lot of...