How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs

J-Mad busts Matt Stout
Counting your outs just to stay alive is never a good feeling.

Part 3 in our 10-part beginner series on how not to suck at poker, this article will show you how to count the exact number of outs you can hit to win a hand.

If you ever want to get a handle on Texas Hold'em poker odds, it's imperative you learn how to count all your outs.

An out is any card that can come which will give you the best hand. Obviously, before you can begin to count outs, you have to know the poker hand rankings forward and backwards, so start there if you don't know them.

After you know the poker hand rankings, you need to be able to read the board. Are there possible straights or flushes? Is the board paired?

All of these things may affect your outs. Here's a simple outs cheat sheet covering the most common situations you'll be in after the flop (definitions for the terms are below the list):

Hand Outs
Open-ended straight draw 8
Gut-shot straight draw 4
Flush draw 9
Open-ender & flush draw 15
Three of a kind to make a full house 6 on the flop, 9 on the turn (add one out for quads)
Pocket pair to hit a set after the flop 2

  • Open-ended straight draw - You have four cards in a row.
    • Hand:8 9 | Board:6 7 2
  • Gut-shot straight draw - You need one card in the middle of four.
    • Hand:8 9 | Board:6 10 2
  • Flush draw - You have four cards of the same suit.
    • Hand:8 9 | Board:6 K 2
  • Open-ender & flush draw - You have both and open-ended straight draw and a flush draw.
    • Hand:8 9 | Board:6 7 2
  • Three of a kind to make a full house - You have three cards of the same rank.
    • Hand:8 8 | Board:8 7 2
  • Pocket pair to hit a set after the flop - You have a pair in your hand.
    • Hand:8 8 | Board:6 7 2

The more time you spend practicing counting your outs, the simpler it will become.

Any card that will bring you the best hand is considered an out. Be careful not to count outs that will potentially give your opponent a better hand.

For example, if you have an open-ended straight draw, but there's two to a suit on the flop, you only have six outs, since two of your outs will bring a flush to anyone holding the flush draw.

Once you no longer have any difficulty counting your outs, you're ready to move on to the next step.

More on How Not to Suck at Poker:

  1. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play Fewer Hands
  2. How Not to Suck at Poker: Play in Position
  3. How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs
  4. How Not to Suck at Poker: Learn Basic Odds
  5. How Not to Suck at Poker: Pay Attention
  6. How Not to Suck at Poker: Have a Bankroll
  7. How Not to Suck at Poker: Stop Bluffing
  8. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Your Mouth Shut
  9. How Not to Suck at Poker: Keep Records
  10. How Not to Suck at Poker: Discuss the Game

Related strategy articles:

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Aqeel 2013-07-14 13:13:14

wait for the flop!!!!! if you are on the button, it wont cost you to see the flop .lets say you have a pair of fours and there is mariangl betting which shows you the rest of the table have so-so hands and want to see the flop too ..with a pair of fours you may get trips or low cards for a possible straight and bet heavy on the river always remember the face cards will beat you .stay in if the betting is light if a player comes out heavy, (if not bluffing) he may be holding high cards such as A_K..if the flop doesn't come your way, throw them away, the odds go down to make a straight or a trip by the river and any pair above fours will beat you .stay if the betting is light and the flop, turn card and river card produces a pair, particularly a low card pair..watch your opponents and their betting style to indicate they hit trips or hold two pairs larger than yours ..if not, bet if so throw away by the turn cardReferences : player Was this answer helpful?

peggie pearson 2011-10-25 20:21:47

any help on which cards to hold or not beforethe flop

Arty Smokes 2011-05-30 23:38:19

I doubt many people bother counting the outs when they are drawing to a full house or quads, as those hands are fairly rare, and top 2 pair is usually enough to win a pot. One of the more common possibilities not listed here occurs when you not only have a flush draw, but also have one or two overcards.
e.g. You have Ah Qh and a flop of 7h 9h 3s.
Not only do you have the 9 outs for the nut flush, but any queen or ace could well be good enough to win the pot. A flush draw plus two overcards has 15 outs, and even though you don't even have a pair, you can make a large bet (even all in) in many circumstances to force a fold. You're even a favourite against someone who already has top pair and a backdoor straight draw (e.g. 9d 8d with the flop mentioned above) if they choose to call. Sometimes it's OK to be losing on the flop, as you're still favourite to win the race.

Luiz Frank 2011-03-06 16:16:07

Qual o saite que eu aprendo referente ao dinheiro virtual que eu ganhar, Como faço prá coloca-lo na conta corrente e dispor dele fisicamente?

Sean Lind 2009-12-04 01:50:13

Keenan,

On the flop you have three of a kind. There are two cards on the flop which if they pair on the turn will give you a full house.

2 ranks, 3 cards each = 6 outs.

On the turn (assuming you don't make your full house) there are now 3 cards that can pair to give you a full house. 3 ranks, 3 cards each = 9 outs.

To make quads, you have a far worse chance than you do to make a full house. There is only 1 card left to make them.

What I meant by (add one out for quads), is that you have 6 or 9 outs + 1.

So you have 7 or 10 outs to make a fullhouse, or better (quads)

Keenan 2009-12-03 06:02:58

Hi i was just wondering how come the outs for a full house increase after the turn? and why are the odds for a quad greater thana full house? You would assume quads are higher value therefore would be harder to hit.