Home » How To Master the Basics of Counting Outs in Poker

How To Master the Basics of Counting Outs in Poker

Home » How To Master the Basics of Counting Outs in Poker

How To Master the Basics of Counting Outs in Poker

Birds eye view photograph taken in the middle of a poker game

One of the most crucial skills you should possess as a poker player is the ability to quickly calculate how many outs you have to a winning hand.

When you play poker online, the best-case scenario would be to always put your money in with the best hand, though in reality, you are probably going to put your money on a bad hand from time to time.

Fortunately, counting poker outs is not too difficult. Read on to find out more about using poker outs in your poker strategy, how to count them, and how to calculate your equity based on the number of outs you have. 

What Are Outs in Poker? 

So, what are outs in poker? Put simply, outs are cards that help to improve your hand. For example, if you’re holding a pair of kings against pocket aces, you have two outs to hit your set, as only two kings are left in the deck.  

In other words, any unseen card that will improve your hand can be considered an out, although not all poker outs carry the same weight.

Naturally, outs come into play a lot more once the flop is dealt and you’re working with five cards. In this case, there’s a good chance you’ve not made a hand yet and will be looking to improve, so understanding this concept is essential. 

How Outs Are Calculated

Before working out how to calculate outs in poker, you first need to figure out which cards will help to improve your hand, and then you need to think about all the cards in the deck.  

In the example of a flush draw, you currently hold two hearts in your hand, and there are two hearts on the flop. With 13 hearts in the deck, you have nine outs to make your flush. 

Other cards may also help your hand. If your flush draw contains an ace, any of the remaining aces could make you the top pair. Whatever your current hand is, you should try to think about all the cards that will improve it on the turn or river and count those cards to come up with your total outs count. 

Identifying Outs in Common Situations

A woman’s hands hold poker chips

With enough practice, you should become more proficient at quickly identifying the number of outs you possess in different situations. 

Here are a few frequent flop situations that arise in poker that you should add to your poker outs chart:

  • Inside straight draw: four outs to a straight.
  • Set: 10 outs to a full house or four of a kind.
  • Open-ended straight draw: eight outs to a straight.
  • Flush draw: nine outs to a flush.
  • Open-ended straight flush draw: 15 outs to a straight or a flush.

It’s important to know that not all outs are “clean.” Learn to distinguish cards that can turn your hand into a nut from those that only make it slightly stronger. 

Use the Rule of Four and Two

Since there is no way to know which cards are coming, all you can do is calculate probability and use it to your advantage for the best poker odds. This probability is known as equity in poker. 

A simple way to calculate equity is by using the rule of four and two. To begin, if you are on the flop, take the number of outs and multiply it by four. If you are on the turn, take the number of outs and multiply it by two. 

By applying the rule of four and two, you’ll come up with 36% (9×4) on the flop and 18% (9×2) on the turn. These numbers are not perfect, but they are within 2% of the real equity, and they take only a few seconds to calculate. 

Using Outs in Your Poker Strategy

Male hands riffle a deck of playing cards

For a more practical application of counting outs, consider the following scenario: you’re on the turn with a flush draw and facing a bet from your opponent during a game of Texas Hold’em online. You’re considering a call but want to know the likelihood of making your flush on the river. 

There are 13 cards of each suit in a deck of cards, and in this hand, you have two diamonds in your hand, with a further two on the flop. That means four cards of that suit have been accounted for, leaving nine in the deck. 

You know that the probability of an individual card appearing on the river is around 2%, and nine cards will give you the best hand on the river. Therefore, multiply the 2% chance by nine, which lets you know that you have an 18% chance to make your hand on the river.

Count Your Outs With BetMGM 

Once you’re confident in calculating poker outs and turning the number of outs into equity,  register with BetMGM and start applying this knowledge at the tables, in poker tournaments, or when you play online poker games.

Counting outs is a valuable poker skill. Learn how to calculate outs and how to use them in your poker strategy.