Poker is a card game in which factors such as luck and probability are involved. As we gain practice and experience, we will see how luck has less and less influence on our results.
In poker it is said that a good player is a long-term winner. It is true that luck decides when the cards are dealt, but once they are in your hands and on the green table, skill, strategy and the study of probabilities are decisive to win all the chips.
In today’s article we talk about the study of probabilities. It is a calculation that players make to find out what cards their opponents may have and decide whether to bet or not. To do so, we will have to introduce two concepts: odds and outs.
What are odds in poker?
Both concepts are related to the mathematical aspect of poker and serve to calculate the probabilities of completing a project or projects. But what exactly are outs in poker? This example will help you to understand it better:
Imagine you have a flush draw on the turn. That is: the fourth card has been dealt on the table and it has turned out that it is viable for you to bet on going for a flush in your hand. To do this, you have to calculate the odds to be able to complete it in the final betting round.
So what do you need to do to achieve your project? If you go for a flush, the next card must be of the same suit. Since a suit has 13 cards and 4 of them have already been dealt, this means that there are 9 cards left in the deck to complete your flush, that is, a total of 9 outs. This is the way to calculate outs in poker.
What are outs in poker?
Now, what are odds? In poker, odds is the term we use to refer to the unfavorable probabilities to which we are exposed. In other words, to calculate outs in poker we will have to calculate the odds. This is so because, in general, we have more probabilities that our project does not prosper, hence the unfavorable probabilities are calculated.
The favorable cases would be represented by the outs. We can also calculate the possible that could occur, that is, the number of cards that remain to be shown. To do this, we would have to subtract the 52 total cards of the deck, both those that have already been shown and those held by the opponents.
If you already have the calculation of your 9 outs, which we have done above, you have odds of 4.11 (about 4.11 unfavorable possibilities). For every time you win, you will lose 4.11 times. And if we translate this into percentage of probabilities of reaching your flush draw, we would be looking at 19.57% odds.
How to calculate odds and outs in poker?
If all this has seemed too complicated, we explain how to calculate it in a simple way.
You will have to use the rule of 4 and the rule of 2, that is, multiply by 4 on the flop to turn and river – the flop to turn refers to the fourth community card face up, while the river is the extra card, the last one added by the dealer to the community cards – and by 2 on the turn.
These mathematical rules give us some pretty close values and are very useful when we have nothing else at hand. Once we have understood what poker odds and outs are, you may ask yourself the following question:
Is it practical to calculate odds and outs in poker?
The truth is that making all these calculations while the game is being played is not very practical. Therefore, you have at your disposal a table where odds and outs are calculated. In it, you can see the probabilities of getting each project (poker, three of a kind, straight, full house, inside straight flush…).
This table is very illustrative because, among other things, it shows you which projects are more likely to be completed. For example: a flush is more likely to succeed than a straight. It also shows that the latter combination is more likely to succeed if it is completed by two points instead of one.
Another relevant fact is that in the calculation of odds in poker, the odds of 50% are rather low. What does this mean? Basically, that most of the time you are not going to get your project.
In addition, you should always think, in order not to rush, that your opponents may have better cards than you, especially when there are not many players at the table and no big bets are made. In addition to your own project, you will have to think about what your opponents may have, taking into account the community cards and, especially, if big bets are being made.
To conclude, we can conclude that counting outs in poker will not be definitive.
We can have a high probability that the play we want does not prosper or that it does, or also that it is insufficient, that is to say, that all the play we have planned is not enough to win.
Counting outs in poker is not easy nor does it assure you a good hand, although to be a good poker player it is highly recommended to know how they work. You may not get the numbers right, but at least you will have a reference that will help you in your bets and increase your chances of winning.