Poker Odds and Outs (and How to Calculate Them) Explained
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Whether you're playing poker recreationally, as a hobby, or professionally, there’s a great deal of thinking that goes with it. Learning how the poker odds and outs work, and how to calculate them, is key to owning your game.
Of course, the higher the level played, the more thinking required to increase your chances of winning a hand. And that is essentially what this article comes down to – chance!
In this case, we will refer to it as odds, as the two terms are synonymous. More specifically, we’ll zero in on what poker pot odds and poker outs are and how to calculate them.
Keep reading this poker guide to find out all about poker odds and outs, so you can effortlessly chime in with your expanded vocabulary at your next poker homegame or on a real money poker site. This article describes the following in detail.
- Poker odds: why are they important to learn?
- Poker odds and outs: All the basics explained
- What exactly are poker outs? Find out here!
- Pot odds hard? Not when we explain it for you.
Now, it’s time to step up your game.
This article is meant for the more inexperienced and aspiring poker players. So, if you’re a veteran card player, this would be familiar territory to you.
Reading this may not turn you into a professional poker player like Daniel Negreanu right away, but it could serve as a stepping stone and help you hone your poker skills and take you to the next level.
Poker Odds: Why Are They Important to Learn?
Firstly, let’s just briefly say that generally speaking in poker, like in sports, odds carry a similar meaning. That is, they are pointers that tell the player about the probability of them winning a hand or estimating how much money they stand to win. This probability can be expressed in several ways – fractions, percentages, or odds.
Since you’re here, it means you know you have a general understanding of the game’s rules but are unsure how the odds work. More than just a game of chance, poker is a game of skill, analysis, and quick thinking.
Understanding and analyzing the various odds in a game helps players make more calculated moves and increase their chances of winning the round and, eventually, the game. Learning the basics about poker odds will also help prepare newbies for higher-stakes games down the road.
In poker, every hand played and every bet made has odds. Nevertheless, here we will explore pot odds, outs, and a few other relevant terms for the most popular of all poker variations – Texas Hold'em!
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Poker Odds and Pot Odds
In poker, odds can be expressed for or against. For instance, if a player has two suited cards (either Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, or Spades) and the board already has two matching suits after the fourth street, then the player has four suits as they await the fifth street and a possible flush.
Say, for example, you have and the cards on the board are . You need the last card to be spades in order to hit the flush. We know that each suit has 13 ranks (from Aces to Kings) and there are already four in play - the and you hold and the and on the board. That leaves you with 9 possible outs that could hit a flush.
You would think you have relatively good odds for a flush, right? Well, not exactly.
Because if it is a game involving multiple players, one or several of them could also be holding some of the remaining spades, which effectively lowers your odds. Whether, or how many spades the other players hold is anyone’s guess and you’ll have to wait for the showdown. That is, unless you don’t think your pot odds make it worth it. But what are pot odds?
Pot odds are the most important odds every poker player should know. Simply put, pot odds represent the ratio of the size of the pot to the wager you must place. For instance, if the pot has $600, and another player wagers $300, the wager is added to the total pot sum, which is now $900. Now, if you want to proceed with the hand i.e. if you don’t fold - then you must call the $300.
The pot odds basically represent the ratio between the sum of money you need to wager to the total pot size. So, to calculate the pot odds, you look at how many times the amount you need to wager is contained in the pot amount. So, if you call $300, and $300 is contained 3 times in $900, then your pot odds are 3:1.
If your opponent makes a pot-sized bet/raise – which is a wager that matches the size on the table, in our case $600 – then the pot has $1,200. You need to call $600, which is contained two times in $1,200, which means the pot odds are 2:1.
What are Poker Outs?
Learning about pot odds goes hand in hand with understanding poker outs. Poker “outs” are undrawn cards that, if drawn, can significantly improve a player’s hand against their opponent.
Let’s say there is a flop and you've been dealt . To improve your winning chances, you can hope for a straight. Your strongest hand would be straight and you need a 6 to hit a straight (4 and 5 of hearts, a 6 of any suit, and the 7 and 8 of diamonds). There are a total of four sixes in the deck, meaning you essentially have four possible outs or four cards that can be drawn that can improve your hand.
There are pre-calculated odds expressed in both percentage or fraction for your chance of hitting a straight on the turn or on the river (referred to as turn odds or river odds). For example, with four outs, you have about 10.8-to-1 odds or 8.51% chance of hitting straight on the turn and about 10.5-to-1 odds or 8.70% chance on the river, or combined 5.1-to-1 (16.47%) Turn+River odds.
Calculating pot odds and outs are interconnected. The idea behind understanding your pot odds is so you can compare it to your card odds to turn a profit. That means, if you have a 4:1 chance of hitting a flush, the pot needs to offer 4:1 pot odds for the risk to match the potential reward.
What are Implied (Pot) Odds?
Another term connected to pot odds and outs is implied odds. Implied pot odds basically refers to the amount of money you expect to win in a later street. For instance, if the pot odds are 3:1 (a $200 pot size and a $100 bet) you stand to win a total of $300 if you call your opponent’s $100 bet. But odds might improve or diminish in the future, which is what implied odds are. See implied odds as a player’s ability to calculate whether they can win more or less money by considering future betting.
Now, when you know what poker odds and outs are, you can test your skills in some of the best freeroll tournaments for 2021! Good luck!