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From Ace Rag to Riches

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It is really important in Poker to know the odds and outs you get.

 

 

This is simply just quick maths you can do in your head and since the outs will typically fit into a specific category each time, its easy to get to grips with.

 

Here are a couple of popular ones

Drawing to a Pair (with unmatched hole cards) = 6 outs

Drawing to a Set = 2 outs

Drawing to a flush (with 1 card to complete it) = 9 outs

Drawing to a gutshot straight (gutshot, meaning you only have 1 card to fill in the middle or one of the ends) = 4 outs

Drawing to an open ended straight (your straight can fill in from either side) = 8 outs

 

These outs can be combined somewhat, so if you have flush and straight possibilities (like as your hole and a board of ) then you can get 9 outs from your flush draw, 8 outs for the open ended straight, 2 outs for your set and 3 outs for your two pair - this is a monster draw with 22 outs.

 

So how can we use these outs to judge where we are?

 

Well an out is worth about 2% (roughly) on the next street producing a card to help you. If you assume that you arent getting it in on the flop and need the Turn to improve your hand, 2%/per out is a good judge.

So with a standard Flushdraw, thats 9 outs, 18% of an improvement by the turn or 36% if you got it in and had the Turn+River to make your flush.

 

This is just probabilities though, there is no guarantee that those cards are still in the deck, another player could hold them or have folded them - but we use all hidden cards as an assumption of where we are -

 

You can use this as a rough guide of how strong your hand can become, it still doesnt tell you if your opponent already has you beat but is a guide on how you need to improve.

 

The strongest way to use this data is to determine pot odds. Pot odds are your chance to win the Pot based on you calling a bet. NOTE : This is a calculation made at the decision point, it doesnt go into implied odds for what you get on the next street if you make your hand, it just focuses on you calling right there and improving to what you need to take the Pot down at that current price.

 

This is another sum which we use our Outs probability to figure out.

If we have a 10% chance to improve and the pot is $1000, at most we should be putting $100 into it when we call. If we get to call it with just $50, we are making a very good drawing call there but if its more, say $300 to call, then we arent getting the right pot odds to draw and are relying on luck rather than maths in that spot.

 

Here is a real world example

You are dealt UTG, BB is $100 and you decide to bet $200.

It is folded around to the button who calls and everyone else folds.

Our bet ($200), our opponents call ($200) the BB ($100) and the SB ($50) go into the pot for $550 total.

Flop comes

This isn't a good flop for us, if our opponent has a Queen in his hand or a King, we are heavily behind to a Queen or Jack here. We are first to act and decide to check, our opponent is going to bet - so before he does, I want to look at our outs.

 

If we believe our opponent could have a Queen or a Jack, we need 

A Pair : Ace (3 outs), King (3 outs)

A Straight : Ten (4 outs)

A Flush : Any Club (9 outs)

--- This gives us a total of 19 outs, based on 2% per out that is 38% chance to improve by the Turn... this is a very good drawing hand.

For it to be worth drawing, our opponent can't be asking us to pay more than 38% of the pot to call. If the pot is $550 then $209 is the most we should commit, ideally. This will of course go up depending on how much he bets.

 

Our opponent makes it a single BB bet, so $100 (making the Pot $650), our pot odds say we can call upto 38% ($247) so this is well within our pot odds to call.. he would have had to make a big bet to scare us away like 75%-100% of the pot... - we call

The pot is now $750

So the turn comes with

Yikes!! - if we put our opponent on a Queen or a Jack, they just made Trips with one of their possible hands.

We can't improve to anything other than a straight or a flush now, this is 13 outs and about 26%.

 

Our opponent bets it about 1/2 the pot for $300, making the pot $1050 - our pot odds say we shouldn't really be calling anything over $273 in this spot but to be honest, $300 is very close and it might be worth it.

We call

The pot is now $1350

So the river comes with

A complete blank for us - all we have is Ace high and our opponent most likely has a hand that can beat that. In this spot we are check/folding as there really isn't any bluff here with the blank.

 

Ignoring the preflop bet, we put in $400 chips, or 4BB, we had pot odds to do it and had we hit our hand on the river, assuming the opponent bet his Trip Jacks, Queens at 50% of the pot, we would have been able to take down a $2025 (or 20BB) pot, even more if we got him to call our raise.

So whilst it might seem like a waste of time drawing, if you have Pot Odds to do it, there is a significant benefit to making the play. You end up gambling on probabilities but you are doing it smartly and in the long run, if you make the same choices over and over, you will win more than you lose.

 

... As a different example, lets see what would happen if we played without any idea of Pot Odds

Same hand

You are dealt UTG, BB is $100 and you decide to bet $200.

It is folded around to the button who calls and everyone else folds.

Our bet ($200), our opponents call ($200) the BB ($100) and the SB ($50) go into the pot for $550 total.

Flop comes

None of your suit are in there, in fact there is a draw to the heart flush

You have no straight outs and really can only draw to your overcards. This gives you 6 outs.

 

Opponent has pretty much the same action, he comes at you with $100 making the pot $650.

Your outs are 6 (12% to improve) so your pot odds would need to be about 15%, you might decide to make the call here, no matter what happens your outs are low and you are only drawing to a pair - this isn't a good draw.

We call

The pot is now $750

So the turn comes with

Yikes squared! - Not only didn't we improve but there is possible a flush against us and with the board pairing there are trips and full house combinations (as well as quads) that have us beat.

 

Our opponent decides to bet it 50% making it $300 more and $1050.

We still have the same outs, this time however those outs, whilst being an improvement to our hand still don't give us a comanding advantage since all we can hope for is to beat a pair of 9s, Queens or pocket pairs if we make our hand.

We would need around 30% or so pot odds to call here, we have only 12% still, a call here can't work so we just have to give up.

 

So in summary, you really need to be looking at three big factors when drawing.

1 : Am i drawing to a dominating hand? - Drawing to a pair isnt dominating, drawing to a flush is

2 : Do i have enough outs to justify staying in? - Being given a walk with a min.bet by your opponent is nice to draw with but when they are putting 50-100% pot bets in, its wise to see if its worth it

3 : Is your stack strong enough to take the risk? - Drawing when you are 100BB deep is easier as it can be fractions of your stack to play. If you are down to the felt, a call, even with the best outs in the world is sometimes not worth the risk

 

Don't get too hung up on the maths, if you can round these figures in your head that is usually good enough. If you know a Flush Draw is 18% per street, call that 20% and if you are bet at, simply just cut the pot in a 5th or if easier a quarter - if it looks about right to call and you have a good hand to draw to and you can take the risk (nice stack) then give it a go.

On the other side, if you have the same outs but it is costing you 30% of the pot to call, its probably not the best move in the long run.

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