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Outs in Poker - Outs are the unseen cards that could be dealt to make you a winning hand.

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Outs in Poker

In any game of poker an 'out' is a card that is still in the deck (unseen) that could be dealt to make someone a winning 5 card poker hand. For example you might need any 8 to make your winning hand, having two 8's already in your hand. This is referred to as a '2 outer', or 2 outs. Knowing the number of outs that you have can be used to work out the probability of you making your hand. The more outs that you have, or more cards in the deck that could make you your hand, the greater the probability that one of them will actually be dealt. This is used when facing a raise or all in where players must decide whether they should call the raise or fold.

The number of outs can be converted into a probability by dividing the number of outs by the number of unseen cards. For example, lets assume that you hold two hearts in your hand and there are two on the board. As we know there are 13 of each suit, we know there are another 9 hearts and so he has 9 outs. There are 52 cards in a standard deck so if you are playing 6 handed poker, 12 cards would have been dealt to players which would leave 40 cards left in the deck. With 9 outs and 40 cards remaining there would be a 9/40, or approximately 22.5% chance of making the flush. On the turn it would be 9/39 assuming the flush was not already made. To calculate the combined odds of either making the flush on the turn or river a common method used to calculate is to double the number of outs and add one for the percentage to hit on the next card, or to multiply the number of outs outs by four to make it on either turn or river.

Another consideration when considering outs is to factor in the unseen cards that are in your opponents hand. In the example above there were 9 outs to make the flush. It is very possible that some or all of the remaining hearts might be in opponents hands and so the possible number of outs might be far less than 9. In any case it would be a drawing hand which would need to improve to win. Let's assume that you hold K Poker Hand Rankings : Royal Flush Q Poker Hand Rankings : Royal Flush and the board reads 9 Poker Hand Rankings : Royal Flush 10 Poker Hand Rankings : Royal Flush 7 Poker Hand Rankings : Four of a Kind 6 Poker Hand Rankings : Four of a Kind and your opponent holds APoker Hand Rankings : Four of a Kind K Poker Hand Rankings : Four of a Kind. Looking at your outs, you could catch and running any spade , any Queen or any King to make your hand or the Jack to make the straight (although the Jack of Diamonds would not be a card you would want to see). That is potentially 19 cards or 19 (9 spades and a Queen or a King - only 1 card left to come) outs that you have to make your hand. Having sight of your opponents cards you can see that if a King hits, it will make you a pair of Kings with Q kicker but this would give your opponent a pair of Kings with an Ace kicker which would win the hand. Similarly the Queen and King of Diamonds would also give your opponent the flush so actually your 11 outs is not really 19 outs, but it is 19 possible outs. Unfortunately you will not know what your opponent has. For this reason it is important to know your scare cards.

In conjunction with the probability of making your winning hand, players also factor in the pot odds. If you have a 40% chance of making your hand and your opponent bets $20 into a $100 pot, the pot odds are 5-1 or 20%. The odds of making your hand are nearly 2-1 which would mean making the call was the right move. If the odds of making your hand are greater than the pot odds, making the call is the right decision, even when you know you are behind.

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