11- 8-07, LearnTexasHoldem:

Counting Outs in Texas Hold'em

Strong Texas hold'em poker players understand that to implement winning Texas hold'em strategy you need to understand pot odds, the odds the pot is offering you versus the odds of you winning the hand. To determine if the pot odds favor you, you need to be skilled at counting outs.

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What is Counting Outs?

An "out" is a card that will make yours the winning hand. If you hold 8s 9s and the flop is Td 6s 3h, then the four sevens are your outs, since any one of them will make you a winning straight.

How Do You Count Outs?

You first need to determine what cards are likely to give you the winning hand and then figure out how many of those cards are available. This is an inexact science. For example, if you hold As Kd and the flop is Td Js 3c, your out calculation may be a function of your opponent and how he bets. In a vacuum, you may determine you have ten outs, the four queens for a straight and any of the three remaining aces or kings for top pair. However, if your opponent made an opening raise or check-raised this flop, you may determine he already has two pair or a set, meaning you are effectively dead to the four queen outs. If you know your opponent likes to draw, you may put him on KQ, meaning you would only have five outs, the three remaining queens for the straight and the two remaining kings for top pair top kicker, since an ace would give a straight to your opponent.

Pitfalls in Counting Outs

The most pitfalls in counting outs come with flush draws, both when you are on one and up against one. If you hold As Ts and the flop is 6s 9c 4s, you may have as many as 15 outs, all the remaining spades and the aces or tens. If you hold 7s 8s, the temptation is to give yourself 17 outs, the nine spades for the flush plus the four tens or four fives for a straight. However, you have already counted the 5s and the Ts in your flush outs, so you really only have 15 outs. Furthermore, you only have this many outs if you are reasonably sure one of your opponents is not holding a bigger flush draw. Conversely, if you have As Kd and the flop is 8h 4h Ts, you may not be able to count the Ah or Kh as outs even if you think top pair is good enough to win, since these cards may make a flush for an opponent.

Notes on Counting Outs in Texas Hold'em

As you play, you will get more and more proficient at counting outs and translating them into your odds of winning the hand. This will make decisions easier and should ultimately improve your no limit Texas hold'em results.

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