Poker is a game where all participants aim only for victory. Of course, this is an observation that could be made in most sports disciplines, but poker seems to have developed this specificity to the maximum by the very nature of its operation. Whether in gamblingin multi-tables, in Turbo tournaments or in games inhabit, all means are good to seek a victory which will make it possible to win attractive gains. But the main disadvantage of this game is that, to hope to succeed, it will be necessary above all to master different concepts which will greatly reduce the life of the poker player. No matter your style of play or your level of experience, there are simply concepts that are impossible not to know.
So can we explain one of these essential elements to triumph? Well with pleasure, especially since they are extremely numerous. But one of the most important is certainly that of the Outs. Outs could be defined as the probability that a player transforms his hand into a winning move. And when we talk about probabilities, we are obviously talking about cards here. Because any potential card that could allow a player to win a hand will be called an Out. In French, it could be translated as a “sortie”, which would be a fairly logical translation considering that it is a victorious sortie.
The problem is that to master this concept of Outs and know how to calculate the probabilities that go with it, you will have to go through mathematics and statistics. If you are an experienced poker player, you should probably have no problem with this type of calculation. But it could appear much more complicated and inaccessible for a beginner. However, our goal here is to make your life easier with a clear explanation of this concept. We can already start by telling you that Outs are not as difficult as they seem at first sight, and that there are simple methods to calculate them. A perfect mastery of the classification of hands in poker will however be essential.
An example for the calculation of Outs
Let’s put ourselves in a situation with a poker hand that boils down to a face-to-face between two players around any table. We have held with an ace-king of hearts when our opponent has jack-9 of spades. The flop shows him a jack and a 4 of hearts as well as a 10 of diamonds. What are our Outs? There are the three aces and three kings left in the deck that can improve our hand by giving us a pair higher than our opponent’s, there are any of the four queens that will complete our straight, and there are all the cards of hearts still in play that will give us a flush; making a total of 18 Outs.
For those who would have arrived at a total of 19 and not 18, know that the difference comes from the fact that we do not count the Queen of hearts in our color project since we have already included it in that of our fifth. Particular care must be taken not to count the same card twice in the calculation of Outs, because otherwise it could end up far from reality. And it is this kind of error in poker that often proves fatal to amateur players.
Let’s go back to our example and say that a deck of cards has 52 in total, and 7 are already dealt on the table, leaving us with a total of 45 different cards that can still appear. If we consider our 18 outs, we then arrive, after a basic calculation following the rule of three, at a total of 40% probability of drawing a card that will make us win. Clearly, we have a very heavy example here, and we can then play hard to put pressure on our opponent, although we must always keep in mind the obvious risk that it is one of the 27 other cards that fall round. It will also be a good time to take an interest in EV.
So it’s not that complicated, is it? Of course, some might argue that it’s absolutely stressful and nearly impossible to concentrate on numbers and math formulas in the middle of a tense game. For those, no problem because there is a solution which is the rule of 4 and 2. The latter tells us that it is enough to multiply your number of Outs by 4 before the flop or by 2 before the round to get an estimate of your percentage chance of winning, or in any case to hit a card that will improve your hand. This principle was created by the player Phil Gordon, and it is nowadays the most popular calculation method.
If we go back to our example one last time, multiplying 18 by 2, we get a percentage of 36%, which is very close to our initial calculation. It is therefore not a method to obtain the exact result, but simply a means of obtaining a realistic estimate very quickly.
Precautions to take with outs
Now that you have understood the mechanics of Outs, we can give you some tips that you will need to be able to use this concept effectively.
The most important thing is that he there are tables that players can learn by heart, in order to avoid having to do the calculation yourself in the middle of the game. This will save you time in the tournament, but you will obviously have to study these tables well beforehand.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Outs are not a hit in all situations. This calculation remains theoretical and does not take into account the calls, bluffs or semi-bluffs that can drastically change the course of a hand. It will therefore always be necessary to pay attention to players using these tactics.
And the last point is that there are other formulas, more complexes, which associate with our Outs also with our number of chips or the sum to pay to participate in the hand. You can take a look at it if you want to have the most precise and meticulous out-based strategy possible.