How Not to Suck at Poker: Count Your Outs

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

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20 April 2008 1404