Simply put, your cards odds is the ratio of the number of cards left in the deck which will make your hand a winner vs. the number of cards left in the deck which will make your hand a loser. The cards that make your hand a winner are known as "outs". The actual odds are figured by dividing the number of unknown cards by the number of outs.
Situation 1: You hold As 5s the board is 2s Qh 6d 10s your opponent has Ad Qc What are the odds of you winning the pot? Easy. There are 52 cards in the deck of which 8 are known leaving 44 unknown. Out of those, 9 of them are spades giving you the winner. 44 divided by 9 = 4.9 so you will win about 1 out of every five times you find yourself in this unenviable position.
Situation 2: you hold As Ks. How many outs do you have now? 11 - be sure not to count the Ks twice. 44 / 11 = 4 You are now only 3 to 1 against.
Situation 3: you hold Ks Js. How many outs do you have now? 16 - let's count them. 9 spades plus the Kd, Kh, Ac, Ah, 9d, 9h and 9c. 44 / 16 = 2.75 Things are looking up. You are less than a 2 to 1 dog.
Situation 4: you have As 5s, your opponent has Qc Qs. How many outs do you have? Unfortunately you are now down to 7. The Qs is in his hand and the 6s makes him a full house stealing two of your outs.
Notice that the cards that help neither hand directly are outs for the hand which is already winning. Thus the importance of good starting hands and making sure that you have the best of it when the money goes into the pot. Occasionally a drawing hand will actually be a favorite over the made hand. This happens most often in Omaha, sometimes in stud but only rarely in holdem.
Now this may seem like complex math to at the table without slowing the game down and, truth be told, few actually do it. So here's the trick. There are charts which tell you approximately (close enough for the real world) what the odds are based on your number of outs. They are different for holdem and Omaha and I have them listed under the particular game info.
- Texas holdem
- Omaha hi-low
Sorry, no shortcuts for stud. Now when you're in the heat of battle, all you have to do is count the number of outs, (and don't lie to yourself, if the flop is 8s 9s 10d and you have 7h 7d, the Js is not an out) remember your chart and you'll know what the odds of making your hand are. Why do you need this number? To compare it with the pot odds so that you can make an informed decision on how to proceed.
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