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How to Calculate “Outs” in Poker

This article follows on from “calculating pot odds.” We explain how to calculate hand odds or “outs” in different scenarios to show new players who are drawing when to call a raise from an opponent.

What Are Outs?

To begin with, you need to understand that when you’re on a drawing hand like a flush or straight draw you are hoping for the next card in the deck to complete your hand. “Outs” are all the combinations of cards that can be dealt that will successfully do this. If I have a gutshot straight draw 5-7-8-9 then it means there are still four “6’s” left in the pack that can be drawn next: i.e. I have 4 outs.

There are two different ways of working out your hand odds once you know the number of outs. There is an easy formula for working out the hand odds percentage and I recommend using this one whilst playing.

Hand Odds Percentage: Multiple the number of outs by 2 and then add 1. For example, if there are four outs left in the pack then (4×2) + 1 = 9%. There is a 9% probability of completing our draw via the next card dealt: i.e. 9% hand odds.

Hand Odds Ratio: The total number of cards that can be dealt: number of outs. If there are 47* unknown cards to be dealt and 4 outs then it is 47:4 or 11.8:1.

*52 – both our pocket cards and the flop.

That’s all it is! Although it sounds complicated and all there really isn’t anything beyond what a 7 year old could understand. Just compare the hand odds figure to the pot odds figure and if it’s lower than it means you should fold to the raise.

Bear in mind that the hand odds above are only for the next card dealt – and you might be guaranteed to see more than 1 card if you move all-in. For example, if you call a raise and move all in on the flop then you are guaranteed to see both the turn and the river. If this is the case, all you have to do is double your hand odds so that they represent the chances of completing your hand on the turn or river.

More Complicated Example of Hand Odds Sometimes calculating hand odds isn’t as simple or easy as above, hence the need for a poker odds calculator. There may be lots of cards that complete our draw but would also complete our opponent’s (reverse implied odds). These need to be discounted before we work out our odds.

For example: We’re holding Jh-Qh and the flop brings 10h-Kd-2h. Notice that on this flop we actually hold both a straight draw and a flush draw (i.e. straight flush draw). If our opponent holding Ks-2s raises us, then there are 15 cards in total that will win us the hand (9d-9h-9s-9c-Ad-As-Ac-Ah-3h-4h-5h-6h-7h-8h-9h). Notice that we had to disregard the Kh from our outs because this would give our opponent a full house.