“Out” is a word commonly used in poker. An out is any card which improves your hand to the best hand.
An out is frequently used in the context of drawing hands. In this article, we teach you how to count outs, and how to estimate pot odds from your number of outs.
Counting Outs in Poker
The first step in counting outs is determining how many cards improve your hand to the best hand.
Imagine you hold:
On a board of:
Your opponent, a short stack, shoves for 1/3 pot into you. Holding two overcards and a straight draw, you figure a call can’t be that bad. Your opponent shows 9d8c.
So your opponent holds the best hand now. How many cards are there that bail you out?
Well, any Jx or Tx give you top pair, and there are three (spades, clubs, hearts) of each remaining since you hold the JdTd. Any 8x gives you the nut straight, and there are all four remaining.
In total, you have 10 cards that bail you out. You also have outs to make a backdoor straight, but these are difficult to count. You can estimate all of your backdoor straight outs (for example Qs turn, Kc river) as worth 1 out in total. Thus, you have roughly 11 effective outs.
|Card||Numbers remaining in the deck|
|Any 8 (8x)||4|
Estimating Pot Odds from Outs in Poker
So you know the number of outs, but how do you go from there?
I’m going to teach you a simple trick. To determine your equity after the flop (with turn and river remaining) multiply your number of outs by four. To determine your equity after the turn (just the river remaining) multiply your number of outs by two.
In the example above, we estimated 11 outs. Since we have the turn and river remaining, we multiply 11 x 4 = 44% equity. Let’s check this with Equilab:
Why is your equity 33%? Well, in this situation your opponent has plenty of redraws.
What do I mean? Well, if you hit your T, your opponent will have an open ended straight (7,8,9,T) draw. If you hit your J, he can still hit a ten for a straight. He can also hit a 9 to make trips, or even backdoor a full house with a 9 and 8.
Thus, you need to consider re-draws. If your outs give your opponent a good chance at re-drawing to a better hand, it’s better to multiply by 3 on the flop instead of 4. Note that your turn calculations stay the same since there are no redraws after the river.
A similar concept is dirty outs. If you have a flush draw against your opponent’s two pair, some of your flush outs might actually make them a full house. Thus, these are dirty outs, because while they improve your hand, they improve your opponent’s hand even more.
Understanding outs in poker is critical to being a good poker player. It will allow you to estimate your standing in any hand and play your drawing hands much more effectively.
Remember that some of your outs may be dirty outs even if they improve your hand. Keep re-draws in mind at all times – just because you hit on the turn doesn’t mean your opponent can’t suck out on the river.