Not All Outs Are Created Equal

Not All Outs Are Created Equal

Imagine you’re in the big blind, and get to see a free flop with 5s 2d. The flop comes 7d 8d Jh, and the action gets checked around. The turn is a 9d; you check, and the player in first position moves all in! Everyone folds to you, and you go into the tank.

Before you make a decision, you begin to count your outs. Youre getting 4-1 to call, and you reason that you have nine outs to a flush (any diamond), and three additional outs to a straight (the remaining sixes). Thats 12 outs, more than enough to make the call, right?

Not so fast! When we have outs that arent to the nuts, we have to discount those outs. This isnt an exact science; we dont have absolutely knowledge of which cards will improve us to the best hands, and which only cause us to lose with a second best hand. But a little reasoning can help us make some educated guesses and come up with a better estimate of our chances.

In the example above, our flush could well end up being best if we hit a diamond. But if our opponent either already has a flush, or has any other diamond (a very strong possibility, as our opponent could be semi-bluffing here), then the diamonds dont help us at all. In fact, our flush is probably good one-third of the time or less; well count our nine outs as more like three, and even that might be generous.

Our straight draw fares even worse. Not only do we have the same issues with a flush beating us, but now any ten has us beat! We could still count our straight outs as a single out hey, you never know.

All totaled, that gives us about four outs worth of chances to win, with 46 cards left in the deck. To make a call then, wed need about 10.5-1 oddsmaking the 4-1 were receiving not nearly good enough. While discounting our outs is rarely this easy, its a process every good poker player should go through when considering their hands chances of winning.

While you can do all of this math in your head, sometimes a helping hand can come in handy. If youre looking for software that can help you calculate odds while you paly online poker, check out Holdem Indicator!

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