Knowing Your Out Card Probability Is Key To Winning At Poker
Know Your Outs
In poker your outs are the unseen cards that will complete or improve your hand to make it the winning hand. Each additional card or "Out" will improve the probability of making your hand. You will compare the odds of making your hand to the pot odds that we discussed last month to make a determination as to whether or not it is profitable to continue with your hand.
First let me define two words that come up all the time. Probability and odds are the same thing but expressed differently. Probability is the amount of times an event will occur and is expressed as a percentage. In Texas Hold’em you will be dealt a pocket pair once in 17 hands or 5.88 percent of the time. The Odds tells you the number of times an event will not occur. The odds against getting a pocket pair are 16 to 1. You subtract 1 from the amount of times something will happen to get the odds against it not happening. So in the case you subtract 1 from 17 to get 16:1.
Where did this figure of 16:1 come from? First we divide 100% by 5.88% and we get 17.006. So the probability of the event happening is once in 17 attempts. The odds are 16 to 1 against it happening.
When you figure your outs you will use that information to help you determine the odds of having the winning hand. Once you know that information you compare the pot odds you are getting to the odds of making your hand. This will determine whether or not you continue with the hand or fold.
Luckily you don’t have to do the math to figure out your odds for each out. The out chart below has all the information you need. If you are playing online you can print out the chart and have it sitting next to your computer. All you have to do is determine your odds and compare it with the amount of money in the pot to quickly compute your pot odds. If you are playing live you will need to memorize the odds for the number of outs.
As a rule of thumb if you have 8 or more outs in a multiway pot you will usually be getting the correct pot odds to continue with your hand. Therefore you only need to learn the odds for 7 or less outs.
Some outs you will quickly recognize.
If you have a four flush you have 9 outs.
If you have an opened straight it is 8 outs.
An inside straight is 4 outs.
Improving a pair is 2 outs.
Number of outs 
After Flop Two cards to come 
After Turn One card to come 

Percentage 
Odds to 1 
Percentage 
Odds to 1 

1 
4.3 
22.4 
2.2 
44.5 
2 
8.4 
10.9 
4.3 
22.3 
3 
12.5 
7 
6.5 
14.4 
4 
16.5 
4.1 
8.7 
10.5 
5 
20.3 
3.9 
10.9 
8.2 
6 
24.1 
3.1 
13 
6.7 
7 
27.8 
2.6 
15.2 
5.6 
8 
31.5 
2.2 
17.4 
4.7 
9 
35 
1.9 
19.6 
4.1 
10 
38.4 
1.6 
21.7 
3.6 
11 
41.7 
1.4 
24 
3.2 
12 
45 
1.2 
26.1 
2.8 
13 
48.1 
1.1 
28.3 
2.5 
14 
51.2 
0.95 
30.4 
2.3 
15 
54.1 
0.85 
32.6 
2.1 
16 
57 
0.75 
34.3 
1.9 
17 
59.8 
0.67 
37 
1.7 
18 
62.4 
0.6 
39.1 
1.6 
19 
65 
0.54 
41.3 
1.4 
20 
67.5 
0.48 
43.5 
1.3 
One mistake many players make is when they compute the pot odds after the flop with two cards to come. These odds are based on seeing both the Turn and the River cards. Suppose you are in a $2/4 game. Five players saw the flop and there is $10 in the pot. The first player bets and everyone folds to you. You have an inside straight draw which means you have 4 outs. There is $12 in the pot and you determine your odds at 6 to 1 to call the bet. There is now $14 in the pot and you are up against a single player. The turn does not help you and the other player bets $4. There is now $18 in the pot and you must call $4 to see the river card. Because the betting limits double on the turn you are now only getting 4.5 to 1 odds which is not enough to call with 4 outs. It is best to base you play on the odds of a single card to come after the flop. You can also consider the implied odds I wrote about last month but in most cases you need to use the odds for a single card to break even .
Your skills at reading your opponents and reading the board are important when figuring your outs. You need to assess your opponents' hands and try to determine what they may have. Your perception of their hands will form the basis for deciding what you need to beat them. You then need to read the board and determine which cards will give you the winning hand. The number of cards that can improve your hand to a winner will be your outs. You can figure your odds of improving your hand once you determine your number of outs.
Sometimes your number of outs are reduced because of the cards on the board. Drawing dead is a term used for drawing a card that will help you but will also make the hand that will beat you
Suppose you held the Ace of clubs and Jack of spades
The flop was King hearts, Jack hearts, 3 of clubs.
The turn is 6 spades.
You determine that one of the other players has a pair of Kings and there are two other players in the hand. You will need and ace or a Jack to improve. You have five outs to improve your hand. 2 Jacks for three of a kind and 3 Aces for two pair. However if the Ace of hearts comes up a player may have a flush and the other aces could give someone a straight if they held Queen Ten.
These types of situations are why your ability to read the board is one of the most important skills you will need to learn, especially in low limit games. It is a topic that I will cover next month.
Until next time, remember:
"Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"