Poker strategy is a game that’s deeply rooted in mathematics and percentages. Sure there are other poker skills like bluffing or reading people but the foundation of poker is math. Fortunately you don’t need a genius-level IQ to excel at poker because there are plenty of poker tools to make things easier for yourself. Here are some of the most important poker hands odds and poker outs that you should know before entering any online poker rooms or poker tournaments.
Common Hold'em Odds
There are a number of basic poker hands odds that you should know when you are just starting to play Hold’em.
These numbers will give you a foundation to build your online poker game. There’s always going to be more advanced poker math that you can learn but this is a great way to get started for a positive online poker experience.
The following poker odds chart illustrates on average how many poker hands it takes for something to happen. For instance poker players get pocket aces an average of once every 221 poker hands.
|331-1||Odds of getting dealt ace-king of spades (or any specific suit)|
|221-1||Odds of getting dealt pocket aces|
|118-1||Odds of flopping a flush with suited hole cards|
|81-1||Odds of getting ace-king (including suited and non)|
|74-1||Odds of flopping a straight with connected cards J-T through 5-4|
|54-1||Odds of suited cards (jacks or better)|
|41-1||Odds of getting one of the top five pairs (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT)|
|24-1||Odds of getting suited connectors|
|16-1||Odds of getting a pocket pair|
|8-1||Odds of hitting a set on the flop with a pocket pair|
|5-1||Odds of getting connected cards (consecutive rank like 3-2, 8-7, Q-J)|
|3-1||Odds of making a pair on the flop with any two cards|
Common Hold’em Match-Ups
When you’re playing Texas Hold’em poker you want to get your money in the middle when you have the best poker odds. Sometimes you will get unlucky and lose a pot where you technically had the best chance but over the long term you’ll always end up a winner if you consistently get your money in good.
Because poker players tend to play strong poker hands like pocket pairs and ace-king suited you’ll see certain poker hand match-ups more often than others.
The chart below looks at the various poker hand match-ups that tend to happen quite frequently:
|Match-up||Approximate Odds (in percentage)||Example|
|Higher pocket pair vs. lower pocket pair||At least 80% favorite||AA vs. JJ|
|Pocket pair vs. overcards||55% favorite||JJ vs. AK|
|Pocket pair vs. overcard and undercard||70% favorite||TT vs. Q8|
|Pair pair vs. overcard and one of that pair||90% favorite||KK vs. AK|
|Two high cards vs. two lower cards||65% favorite||JT vs. 87|
Common Poker Outs
A poker out is simply any card that makes your poker hand. For instance if you had a straight draw with 9-8 on a 7-6-2 flop then you’d have eight poker outs: 5s-5h-5d-5c or 10s-10h-10d-10c.
Poker players use their poker outs to calculate what percentage they have to make the hand and win the pot. In the above example a poker player would have a 31.5% probability to make the straight by the river.
This can be used to decide when to call. For instance if your opponent makes a huge overbet than 31% doesn’t really warrant a call but if they only make a min-bet then that’s generally an easy call.
You want to have a lot of poker outs. Of course some of your poker outs won’t actually be poker outs. For instance if you have king-queen of diamonds vs. someone who has ace-ten of diamonds then you are drawing dead to the flush (because the ace-high plays).
Here’s a chart of the various poker outs situations you might run into:
Calculating the Turn and the River
Once you understand the poker outs that are available to you with one card to go you can then start thinking about the turn and the river.
Most of the time the poker odds are roughly double when you have two cards to go but here’s a complete poker odds chart. As you can see, the poker odds chart displays your exact poker odds for every available amount of poker outs:
|Outs||% 2 Cards to Come||% 1 Card to Come|
We recommend printing the poker odds chart and using it as a source of reference. It should come in very handy.
How to Calculate Your Own Outs
Of course you don’t need to memorize a poker odds chart if you can just calculate your own poker outs. Fortunately it’s not that difficult.
All you have to do is figure out just how many cards will improve your poker hand.
For instance if you have 5d5c and you need to improve to a set or quads, the math is quite simple:
That means there are 48 cards that won’t help you and two cards that will. Therefore you have 2 poker outs.
You might correctly point out that other players in the game may have folded one of the fives but that’s ignored for the purposes of calculating poker odds.
Here’s a slightly more advanced poker hand:
You have king-jack of diamonds on the turn of a Ad-5s-2d-9s board. The other poker player hit a pair of aces and you need to improve to a flush. How many poker outs do you have?
First of all you need to reduce the deck down to 46 cards because you have two cards and there are four cards on the board. There are 13 cards of each suit, but you have two cards in your poker hand and there are two more cards on the board.
That means there are nine diamond cards in the deck that will make your flush and win the poker hand. Meanwhile there are 37 cards that, by default, will help the opposition. That means you are 37-9, or more simply, 4-1 to win. That means you’ll only pull it off 20% of the time so hopefully you don’t have to pay much to see the river.
You can always use this math to calculate your poker odds. Here’s an extremely simple reference chart to the make-up of the standard 52-card deck:
|20||Broadway cards (4 aces, 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 jacks, 4 tens)|
|13||Cards of each suit (spades, diamonds, clubs, hearts)|
|8||Cards that can complete an open-ended straight|
|4||Cards of each rank (for example AsAhAdAc or 5s5h5d5c)|
Should You Call? Basic Pot Odds
When people are just starting to play poker they often get stuck on the decision of whether to call a particular bet or not.
Most new poker players make this decision based entirely on what cards they think the other person is holding but more experienced poker players will also calculate the poker odds. The standard formula is referred to as pot odds. Pot odds is basically about deciding whether you are getting a good enough price to call.
For instance if you have to call $1 to potentially win a $100 pot then you are going to call every time regardless of your poker hand because it’s simply too cheap to fold (and your opposition might be bluffing once in every 100 poker hands).
On the other hand if you have to pay $75 to win a $175 pot then it’s not a good proposition to call with a weak poker hand.
This is particularly helpful when you are on draws.
For instance if you are on a straight draw where you have eight poker outs to hit on the river than your poker odds are 38-8, or simplified, 6-1. That means you’ll get there just under 20% of the time.
Let’s say the pot has $90 in it and the other person just made a bet of $10.
That’s generally an easy call because your odds of hitting are 6-1 and you were just given odds of 10-1 on a call (if you call the pot is $100). That means you only need to be successful once every 10 times and with your poker hand you should be successful once every six times. The poker odds are in your favor.
Now if your opponent bet $100 that would be a much dicier proposition. Suddenly you are risking $100 to win $200 and the odds are 200-100, or simplified, 2-1. Since you’re only 6-1 to make your hand you should probably fold.
Of course pot odds are just a guideline and you’re totally in your right to make a crazy call because you are a 100% certain your opponent has specific hand. It’s usually not correct to play this way but it can work out for some people.
What Are the Odds Behind the Best Hold’em Hands?
There are five poker hands that are widely considered to be the best in Hold’em. Those poker hands are pair of aces (AA), pair of kings (KK), pair of queens (QQ), pair of jacks (JJ) and AK usually in that order. These poker hands are widely considered the power five in Hold’em and most of the time you’ll be playing these poker hands every time those cards are dealt to you.
There are a large number of poker odds and tips for playing the best poker hands in Hold’em and we’ve actually broken in down in the following standalone articles about each poker hand:
Common Questions About Poker Odds
Are Straight Draws or Flush Draws Better?
This is a weird one but you actually have slightly more poker outs with a flush draw once you’re one card from completing:
It makes sense when you think about it. An open-ended straight draw has a total of 8 cards that complete it (ranked cards on both the high and low) while a flush draw is any one of the nine remaining cards of your suit.
This is only odd because flushes are ranked higher than straights in the official Hold’em hand rankings.
The reason is that straights are actually easier to start (it’s more common to be dealt connectors than suited cards) but flushes are easier to finish once you’ve gotten four of them lined up.
Don’t sleep on straights, however. They are significantly easier to disguise and rivering a deceptive straight can be a grade-A way to win huge poker pots.
Do I Have to Be a Math Genius to Play Hold’em?
No, you don't have to be a poker odds wizard. Math is certainly a fundamental part of Hold’em and poker in general but there are plenty of successful poker players that excel in reading people and making well-timed bluffs over calculating their equity in marginal situations.
Interestingly there are other poker players who incorporate the math aspects of the game without even thinking about the poker odds. They might say they go by "feel" when considering a call but there's a good possibility they will take into account the fact they are calling a small bet or a big one.
In general you just want to minimize your risks and maximize your profits. That’s not exceptionally hard to understand.
Should I Only Play Aces?
No. As you can see above you’ll only get aces on average once in every 221 poker hands that you play. That’s simply not frequent enough to be profitable.
In addition, other bettors would be able to easily categorize you as an extremely conservative poker player and would either fold immediately or attempt to suck out on you with a smaller poker hand and win a huge pot.
Poker is a situational game and it’s all about reading people and adapting as you go.
What’s the Best Draw in Poker?
The best draw in poker would be an open-ended straight-flush draw with over cards. An open-ended straight-flush draw with over cards is one of the only draws where you’re actually a favorite to win by the river.
Straight flush draws are usually played extremely aggressively by experienced poker players because there’s a possibility your opposition might be on a smaller draw and you would have them dominated.
In general straight flush draws in poker are monsters and should be played accordingly.
What are Outs in Poker?
Poker outs are simply the cards that will complete your poker hand and (hopefully win you the pot).
Sometimes you’ll know for sure that your poker outs will win you the pot while other times it won’t be as clear.
For instance if you’ve got ace-king suited and are one card from completing the nut-flush (with no pairs on the board) then you can rest assured that if you hit your card then you will win.
What Are Drawing Hands vs Made Hands in Poker?
Made hands in poker are poker hands that are likely to hold up without any help from the board. A good example would be pocket aces. It can improve but there’s also a good chance it will be just fine without any help from the board.
A drawing hand in poker is something like 8-7 suited because it gives you the chance to hit both straights and flushes.
Generally you want to be seeing cheap flops with your drawing hands and hopefully hit something good so that you can stack your opponent.
What are the Best Odds in Poker?
If you can somehow get others drawing to one out, you’re doing pretty good.
In most situations where your opponent is dead to one out, you’ll be pretty close to a 98% favorite. There’s not a poker player on earth that wouldn’t take those poker odds on a regular basis.
Generally that’s rare, however, and your opponent will usually have at least a few poker outs.
Odds Shark Staff Fri, Apr 29, 3:28pmPoker
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