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Poker Dictionary (106) > Outs

Using 'Outs' in Poker

'Outs' are the number of cards that can be dealt that are left in the deck which could make you a likely winning hand in poker - likely as you could never been 100% sure what your opponents hold. The outs that a player has can be used to work out how likely it is that one of the cards is dealt to improve a hand.

To put this into a workable example, you hold 10s Js and the board reads As 5h Qs 3d. With four to the flush, any further spade will give you a fairly strong flush. With 13 cards to each suit, there are 9 remaining (as there are two on the board and two in your hand). You could also hit one of the 4 remaining Kings to make a straight (the King of Spades would make you a Royal Flush) - that's 13 outs. With 52 cards in the deck to start, we can minus the two in your hand and the 4 on the board, leaving 46 cards. Out of those 46 cards, 13 give you a winning hand (likely) and 33 don't.

This can be turned into a percentage by this calculation (13/33)*100 = 39%. That means you will hit one of your outs 39% of the time.

Using Outs to Help You Decide How to Play

Outs are used to help players determine whether to play a hand or not. In the example above, we know that the hand will hit 39% of the time, what now? Well, we can look at the pot odds, so if a player bets £30 into a £90 pot, the pot odds are 3-1, or expressed as a percentage, 33%. How this is used, is that when the pot odds are greater than the odds of making your hand, you should call, if not, you should dump the hand.

So if we were getting pot odds of 3-1 (30%) and a 39% chance of making your hand, then this isn't a call we should make.

In another example, a player bets $100 into a pot of $500 on the river, then the pot odds are 5-1. If we had a 39% chance of making our hand (2.5-1) then we should absolutely make the call. We will hit our winning card every 2.5 times we run the hand. If we ran this scenario 3 times we would spend $300 on each of the 3 attempts and would win one of them, so netting $500, making it a good call.

Difference in Online Poker and Live Games - Outs

Outs are used across the poker spectrum so they apply to both live games and online poker. The main difference is that playing online, you get less time to work things out as you have an automatic clock and time bank. As such things happen a lot faster online. On the plus side, you do have tools to aid you making a decision, which you cannot make use of in live games.

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