A basic but important skill for any serious online poker player is the capability to calculate how many outs you have to win a hand in a quick and useful manner. Once you grasp the concept, like many poker strategy techniques, you’ll have to practice it consistently to get really good at using it in your game efficiently. With practice, calculating outs during play can become an instinctive part of your thought process.
The first thing to realize is that we don’t always get dealt an ideal hand in poker online. In fact, we are more likely to be dealt a hand that is not necessarily anything to get excited about, but we’ll put money on it anyway in hopes that it becomes a better hand on a later street. And then we really hope it become at least good enough to beat the other player and score the pot. The cards that will give you that hand is called outs.
Being able to factor in the best online poker hand range of your opponents’ cards into your out calculations will ultimately make it easier for you to calculate your outs. While you won’t be able to know the exact cards other players hold, in order for your out calculations to be more accurate, you’ll have to hypothesize the hand range you could potentially be up against.
Assume you do not know what your opponents’ hole cards are. Giving him a possible J Spades J Hearts will decrease your outs significantly. You would lose the three Aces and three Kings as outs in this situation, and more so, you could still lose if the river puts a pair on the board. Furthermore, you should always keep in mind that not all possible outs will produce the best and winning hand.
You’ll also want to take into account half-outs, which are those outs that will only count as half an out. For example, say your hole cards are 8 Spades 9 Spades, the board shows T Hearts J Hearts 3 Diamonds. There are four 7s and four Queens that would produce a straight, which you can assume would give you eight outs. However, hitting the straight might give your opponent a flush, which would not win you the hand. Therefore, the Q Hearts and the 7 Hearts should not be considered full outs and should only be counted as half-outs, giving you only seven outs in total and making up for the times that your opponent’s flush will beat your straight.
Hidden outs are those cards that might not directly improve your hand, but will actually hurt the other player’s hand. For example, say you have A Hearts A Clubs with 5Spades 6Clubs 9Diamonds K Hearts on the board. Your opponent has 6 Spades 5 Hearts which will give him two pairs. A Diamonds or A Spades on the river would be great, but a 9 or a King would also give you the better hand by devaluing your opponent’s hand and giving you a higher two pair; thus, a 9 or a King would be considered hidden outs.
Effectively and efficiently calculating outs during play poker games online must be practiced, like any poker technique, but once it is mastered, it can dramatically improve your game. When working on this skill, though, you should also keep in mind the number of players at the table, as the more players you have, the less outs you actually have. Furthermore, you must also consider the burn cards when processing your outs. This post is for beginners, and as you become a more seasoned outs counter. You will likely start to make your own inferences which will dictate your perception of the strength of a hand.