Pot odds, odds and outs

Poker is a game requiring a keen mind and good judgment. The essence of poker is perhaps best reflected in the concepts of pot odds, odds and outs. It is these important issues that we’ll talk about today. Regardless of the poker variant you prefer, understanding odds and outs will help you make the right decisions. In layman’s terms, your actions must be entirely determined by the following factors: the probability of winning, the size of the pot and the amount of chips you need to accumulate in order to continue playing. The key here is to minimize the risk while maximizing the potential gains.

Odds & Outs

Before we begin discussing poker odds in detail, it is necessary that you know how to calculate your outs. The idea is very simple, so you just have to learn how to do it. Basically, outs are the cards that help you in finishing the poker combination you desire, which in your opinion would be stronger than your opponent’s hand. For example, if the board is composed of a few cards and you hold a 5-6-7-8 straight draw while being sure that your opponent has pocket aces, the only cards that will save your skin are 4 and 9. These cards are your outs to form the nuts.

Consider a real-life example:

You are holding a suited Q ♦ 9 ♦
The board is composed of A ♦ K ♦ 7 ♣ 4 ♣

You know that your opponent is a careful player who wouldn’t consider betting if he did not have at least a pair of kings. A more likely scenario on this board is that he has already made a pair of aces. When he makes his next bet, you realize that he holds the top pair (kings or aces) and your only chance of winning this hand is a flush. Basically, the only thing that can save you is a fifth card of the diamonds suit.

The deck holds 13 cards of each suit. 4 of the diamond-suited cards are already a part of the board and your hand. This means that there’s only nine diamond cards left in the deck and each of them will allow you to complete your winning flush (if you disregard the fact that some of the cards could be held by one of your rivals). Consequently, you have 9 outs. Continue reading