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Poker 101: How To Count Outs

Poker 101: How To Count Outs article feature image

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Plenty of similarities exist between sports betting and poker. In both scenarios, the goal is to augment win probability at every stage of action. Getting the best of a point spread maximizes your win probability in the long run. Playing openers can be profitable with a number of outs.

In the sports betting world, an out signifies line shopping to get action down. For example, a point spread could open at -3 then close at -6.5. Having a vast number of outs allows a sports bettor to make the best financial decision on his initial investment. In poker, a competitor is also always searching for the best financial decision.

One tool to improve a poker players odds is the ability to count outs.

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In the poker world, an out is defined as a card that will improve your hand. Hole cards of A♣️ T♣️ will surely have the player wanting clubs and face cards in the coming action. A flop of Q♣️ J♦️6♣️ gives the player nothing but a high-Ace, but plenty of outs to continue betting the pot.

To improve the players hand to a nut flush or straight, there are double-digit cards remaining. A turn or river of K♠️, K♦️, or K♥️ will give the player a straight, while nine remaining clubs give the player a flush (K♣️ J♣️ 9♣️ 8♣️ 7♣️ 5♣️ 4♣️ 3♣️ 2♣️).

Beware of others counting on a flush, like in the following example in which a player had 16 outs and a 35% chance to draw a winning card.

The Rule of 4 and 2

The rule of 4 and 2 is a quick shortcut for working out the percentage odds of completing a draw in Hold'em. When hole cards are paired with a flop on the board, it is important to calculate a rough estimate of odds your hand will make a winner.

Follow these simple steps at certain stages to calculate odds:

  • After the flop, multiple your outs by 2 for odds to hit a draw on the turn.
  • After the turn, multiple your outs by 2 for odds to hit a draw on the river.
  • If an opponent goes all-in after the flop, multiply your outs by 4 for odds to hit a draw on the river.

Using Outs to Bet

Calculating outs is used to determine if a value pot exists. A sports gambler would quickly walk away from a moneyline of +200 if true odds were closer to +450 in a singular event. The same concept applies to poker players, outs and pot value.

One of the easiest examples to diagnose is chasing a flush. Novice poker players love to chase a flush even when the money in the pot does not dictate a wager.


Take hole cards of A♣️ Q♣️, for example. A flop of 9♣️ 6♦️2♣️ gives the player nine outs for a flush, the number of potential clubs remaining in the deck. Using percentage odds, the player has a 19% chance to hit a flush on the turn and a 35% chance to pull a club including the river.

In this scenario, the player should bet no more than 20% of the pot value before the turn. That 20% bet should include the players own money, a common mistake for some poker beginners. If $100 is in the pot and an opponent bets $50, the player is being asked to bet 25% of the pot with a $50 call.

Once a poker player begins to easily calculate card odds against pot odds, plenty of chips will come back to home base.

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