Poker Strategy: What Are Outs and How Do You Use Them?

If you play any kind of poker, you probably know about outs — or you have at least heard other players talking about them. Outs are actually part of basic poker strategy, and learning how to use these will help you improve your play significantly.

Outs exist in every type of poker, but we’re now going to focus on Texas hold ’em. However, once you learn more about them, you will be able to adapt to other games as well. So what exactly are outs, and how do they work?

Essentially, an out is a card that you need to make a poker hand. If you manage to get that card on the turn or the river, you will “hit an out,” which is always a good thing. Without further ado, let’s take a look at a concrete example of how outs work.

What Are Outs: An Example

Let’s say that you have an Ace of hearts and a seven of hearts. That hand doesn’t look that well at the start, so the only thing that can help you is if you manage to have three more cards that are hearts to make a flush.

At this point, it’s fairly difficult to talk about outs, as it is too early, and too many things need to be considered. Outs are usually taken into account after the flop.

Therefore, all you have to do is decide whether you want to proceed with the game or fold. Folding at this point could seem like a fairly reasonable choice if the situation requires so, especially if a lot is at stake.

However, proceeding with the flop betting round is perfectly okay if there’s room for you to increase your bets a bit and still not lose a lot of money in the process.

Now, what we need for our outs example is that the flop shows, let’s say, a queen of hearts, a three of hearts, and a four of diamonds. The first two cards are what matters to us at this point, as they mean we have four cards that have hearts as their suits. What does that mean?

It means we need one card of the same suit to make a flush, which is five cards that have the same suit. A flush is always a welcome sight, but the probability of landing a heart on the turn or the river is something we need to take into account.

Now, our “out” card would be any card on the turn or the river that has hearts on it. At this point, a professional poker player can estimate how many outs they probably have. We have an ace, seven, queen and three. In other words, we need to assume that there are two, four, five, six, eight, nine, 10, jack, and the king of hearts still hiding somewhere in the deck.

However, we also need to take into account that some of the other players on the table might have actually received one of those cards. What’s important is that we statistically have nine possible outs.

Should you proceed at this point? Well, there’s no certain way to tell that. Poker is also a game of chance, and you can always risk and see whether you should do it. Remember that you have two chances and nine outs, so the odds seem pretty good at this point.

What you need to take into account is how high the stakes are, other players, and many other important things. Therefore, start thinking about outs as a part of every basic poker strategy to improve your game.