Surely you have already had your first contact with some of the mathematical aspects of poker. Odds and outs are concepts that you must master beyond their meaning, since the odds of winning have a direct dependence on what the odds and outs say.
As mathematical elements that they are, odds and outs result in a number. A number that is usually represented by a percentage and that determines the probability of something happening in the game. But let’s go by parts because, although they are related, in reality odds and outs represent different aspects of a poker game.
Poker odds: what they are
The odds in poker are the probabilities of something happening. It is important to be clear that the odds are calculated at different times of the game, never take a value and apply it to the whole round, because it can distort the game and end up making decisions based on past probabilities. Poker is a dynamic and changing game, it is the magic of the cards, and the odds of winning or losing can change in the following streets, depending on what the turn and river say.
If we dive into the world of odds, we can find several types depending on what is being calculated. For example, pot odds refer to the probabilities that we have of winning the pot, leaving aside other aspects whose probability of coming true can also be calculated, but with “normal” odds.
In addition, we can also classify the odds according to the type of game we are playing. There are odds for multi-table tournaments, which help us to calculate the indispensable risk-benefit balance of our plays in a tournament, there are odds for No Limit Hold’em, which are usually combined with the calculations of the expected value (EV) and the fold equity to improve the decision making, odds for Texas Hold’em games with limit, which are valid for specific moments of the game… It is a very wide world that you get to know with experience.
How to calculate odds
Although it is true that there are poker softwares that calculate the odds automatically, many platforms restrict their use. In addition, taking into account that it is part of the learning process to develop mental skills to promote agile mental calculation in order to handle odds and outs without difficulty, it is convenient that you start omitting the use of computer programs and start training your mind.
Let’s imagine that we calculate our outs and we obtain a result of 3. That is, three cards that can help us to finish our project. To calculate the odds, what we do is to divide the cards that are still to come out of the deck by our odds.
If at that moment there are 40 cards left to go and we have 3 outs, we get 13.33. That is, we will have to play a total of 13.33 times in order to obtain a win. By knowing our balance of times, we must play to win, we will also obtain our loss ratio. If to obtain 1 win we have to play 13.33 times, that gives us a losing ratio of 12.33.
Another way to calculate the odds is to divide 100 by our loss ratio plus one. Using this example as a reference, we would do the following:
Outs in poker: what they are
When we talk about outs in poker, we refer to the cards we need to complete our project. Calculating them is essential to know at what exact point of the game we are, what are our chances of being able to tie the hand and win the pot.
That is precisely why odds and outs in poker are concepts that go together. If we calculate what cards we need to complete our project, we will know what real probabilities we have to be able to tie the best hand and win. Calculations must be quick and accurate.
The problem is that a misreading of the game can cause our calculation of outs to be wrong, which will lead us to miscalculate our chances in the round. That will affect our decision making, making the wrong choices, and we will end up losing chips. Therefore, outs are the basis of our calculations and must be accurate so that everything else accurately represents what is happening on the table.
How outs are calculated
As we said a few lines above, outs are the basis of your probability calculations. In poker they are fundamental, and calculating them correctly is paramount to establish accurate calculations for the rest of the game.
However, the outs in poker are not useful for continuation bets, for specific moments or to read hands in the game, because the outs do not take into account the margin chips we have, for example.
To calculate our outs correctly, we have to take into account that:
- A deck of poker cards has 52 cards.
- These 52 cards are divided into 4 suits.
- Each of the suits has 13 cards.