Calculating Poker Outs

Knowing your “outs,” or the cards that will potentially give you a winning hand, is one of the most important aspects of playing winning poker.

The amount of poker outs you have should dictate every move you make when faced with the decision to fold or continue playing a hand.

Determining your poker outs is simple. Start by identifying your hand and the cards needed to make your hand a winner. The cards that will improve your hand are your poker outs. Below are a few examples of possible hands and their total outs.

ace diamonds

Example A

You have royal flush draw: A, 10, Q, J (all spades). You suspect your opponent has two pair.

To make your royal flush you would need to catch the King of Spades- 1 out

But you also know that a flush or straight will also give you a winner. Therefore, you could get any other spade 2(s), 3(s), 4(s), 5(s), 6(s), 7(s), 8(s), 9(s) – 8 outs

or any other king- K (c), K (h), K(d)- 3 outs

So for the above example you have a total of 12 cards that will make your hand a winner.

ace of clubs

Example B – Texas Hold’em Application

You have Q(s) Q(h) and your opponent holds K(s) 9(s)

The flop comes: K(d), 10(h), J(h)

The turn comes: 3(s)

In your hand you hold a pair of queens, but you also have four cards to a straight.

Your opponent has flopped top pair plus an inside straight draw.

This example is very important to board games such as Hold’em or Omaha where community cards are used. Some attention must be paid to your opponent’s hand before calculating whether or not to call.

In most cases a Queen on the turn or river would give you trips and a powerful hand. But since a Queen would give your opponent a straight, you cannot count the two remaining Queens among your outs.

So your poker outs for this hand are the three remaining 9’s, plus any of the four remaining aces, for a total of 7 outs. This leaves the rest of the deck for your opponent and makes it very tough for you to call.

Obviously, the above example is overly simplified since we have shown you your opponent’s cards. The example is set up to promote thinking in terms of what your opponent holds in his or her hand, and being careful not to count cards that may give your opponent an even stronger hand as your out cards.

Once you begin to identify your outs, you can start to put actual percentages on your chances of winning a hand. Knowing the odds of making various hands takes time, but there are tools that can be used to help you.

One of which is to look over our detailed list of Texas Hold’em odds. There you will find hundreds of possible hands and the actual odds of improving them.

Another tool that will prove helpful in determining your outs, once the flop is dealt, is the 4/2 method. This is a simple equation that will give you a ballpark figure on the odds of hitting one of your outs.

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4/2 Method for Calculating Poker Odds

When there are two cards left to come, multiply your outs by 4. When there is one card left to come, multiply your outs by two.

Example: After the flop, with two cards to come (turn and river), multiply your outs by 4.

If you have two outs, you have roughly an 8% (2 x 4 = chance of making your hand).

Example: After the turn with one card to come (River) multiply your outs by 2.

If you have 2 outs, you have roughly a 4% (2 x 2 = 4) chance of making your hand.

While the 4/2 method is not exact, it will get you close enough to the true odds to make a decision on whether or not to continue playing a hand.

ace of spades

Hopefully these examples give you a better idea of how to determine your outs, and how to use that knowledge to improve your game.

If you have any questions about calculating outs or about any of the information detailed here, please email us at info@thepokersource.com