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General Poker Strategy Concepts

This is just a short article about the most important aspects of odds and outs. Find more articles and a complete introduction to basic poker strategy in the submenus.

The 2 concepts described below are poker stratagems of a technical nature, which interact with each other and are good to get your head around. They are fairly easy to comprehend but take some practice to become routine calculations, yet the benefits of those concepts will show their effect on your bankroll very soon.

Calculating Outs

What is an Out? It is a card that will improve your hand to a winning hand if it hits the board on the Turn or River. If you need to improve your hand after the Flop to win, you will need to calculate your Outs to see what the odds are of getting that very card.
The table below will safe you to calculate your Outs all the time. It shows you the most common drawing hands, the associated number of outs and the odds against improving to the winning hand. The odds are rounded figures for simplicity.
Have that chart open in an extra window on your computer whenever playing online poker. A quick look at it will give you a quick answer.

Hand drawn to Number of Outs Odds against improving
Flush 9
Open-ended Straight 8
Inside Straight 4
Full House holding 2 Pair 4
Flush + Open-ended Straight 15
Flush + Inside Straight 12
2 Overcards needing to pair with the board 6
Open-ended Straight + 1 Pair to become Trips 10

IMPORTANT: When you hold a combination like Flush draw + inside Straight draw, you have 12 Outs not 13, because you can’t double-count the card you need for the Straight and the Flush.

Pot Odds

Pot Odds are a lot easier to calculate. Simply compare the money (or amount of chips) that is in the pot and the amount of money (or chips) it would cost you to call. Here is an example: There are $100 in the pot including a $25 bet from the other player, so it costs you $25 to stay in the hand. That means your Pot Odds are $100:$25 or 4:1.
Now, how does that relate to the Outs? If your odds against drawing to a winning hand are 3:1 but the pot offers you odds of 4:1 then these are favourable odds and you should call the bet. If it is the other way around then it would be bad to call. Let’s clarify this with a last example.
You hold 10c,9c and the Flop comes Kc, 8c, 6d. The pot is $150. You are drawing to a Clubs-Flush and have an inside Straight draw at the same time waiting for a 7. Your total Outs are therefore 12: the 9 remaining clubs plus 3 sevens (don’t count the 7 of clubs twice!) meaning your odds against improving are 47:12 or around 3:1. Assuming there is only one other player in the pot with you and he now bets $50, he is offering you 4:1 Pot Odds: $150+$50=$200 and it would cost you $50 to call his bet. Those Pot Odds are very favourable and you should call. If he, however, bets $150 (instead of $50) he’s only offering you 2:1 Pot Odds and you shouldn’t call his bet.