One of the very easy calculations you should learn even at this stage in your poker career concerns the concept of counting your “outs”.
What Are Outs?
We have already seen how the relative strength of a poker hand can increase or decrease as flop, turn and river is dealt. If you have a hand that is probably losing, but has the potential to improve to a winner, (ie, a drawing hand) you need to decide whether it is worth continuing with it through the various stages of the pot.
In short, you need to identify the cards that will improve your hand to win at showdown – known as “outs”.
We’ll run through a few common examples.
Example – Flush Draw
Example – Straight Draw
Example – Straight Draw and Overcards
Now we can start to consider your opponent’s hands.
Example – Set Against a Flush Draw
Example – Straight Draw AND a Flush Draw
Why is this important?
Learning to calculate your outs gives you a much firmer grasp on how poker hands can play out, and swing from one way to another as the cards are revealed. You’ll find later on in your learning that you will need to be able to count your outs to apply this information in some basic (and some complicated) calculations.
“The Rule of Two and Four”
Here’s a fast method which players use to calculate their odds of winning a hand to an approximate percentage and informing their decision in a hand; it’s called “The Rule of Two and Four”.
After the flop has been dealt, count your outs and multiply by FOUR to determine the percentage of making your hand on the turn or the river.
After the turn has been dealt, count your outs and multiply by TWO to determine the percentage of making your hand on the river. This also works for determines your chances of making your hand on the turn when acting on the flop, because there is similarly one card to come.
This method isn’t 100% accurate, but it’ll get you near enough to quickly calculate your perceived percentage of winning.
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