Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Counting Hidden Outs

First, let just say that I'm on a roll at the limit tables. I'm just in a zone where I'm counting outs well and being aggressive enough with good to marginal hands. I really didn't have any monster or even dominant hands last night and ten pots were folded to me, which I think shows that I was putting my opponents in tough situations.

What I'm hoping is that this isn't just variance being kind but an actual improvement in my game. The only real gauge I have is my 'roll, which has trended upwards overall.


Okay, so I want to write today about counting hidden outs. Again, let me make some things clear:

1. I'm not trying to teach anyone- I'm not good enough for that. I'm trying to make sense of what I'm reading and 'lock it in' my head, so to speak. Please, if you see anything incorrect, let me know! I want to learn and improve, and I need to know when I'm mistaken.

2. This is not my work! This is my re-telling of material from "Small Stakes Holdem" by David Sklansky, Martin Malmuth, and David Miller.

Accurately counting outs is important in limit holdem in order to decide whether to continue with a hand is profitable or not. Often, outs cannot be counted as "full outs" and it is important to take these partial outs into consideration.


Generally, overcards are devalued by the number of higher cards that could come and beat them. For example, I have QJ offsuit on a rainbow board of 7 3 10. Because an ace or a king will put the potential of a higher pair on the board, and because a single pair often loses, the unaccounted-for queens and jacks (three each) can't be counted as full outs. Sklansky et al recommends counting each as a half an out. So, the two overcards in this example are worth three outs total.

While it isn't mention in "Small Stakes," I personally wouldn't give small overcards that much weight. An 8 or 9 as an overcard isn't going to win many times if you hit a pair, so I probably would only give each one out a piece. (for what it's worth.)

Backdoor Draws:

Weak, three card straight and flush draws also should be taken into account. Generally, they are not worth many outs however. A backdoor flush or draw has about the same 22-23:1 chance of coming in by the river and are usually only one out each.

Specifically, Sklansky counts backdoor flush draws as 1.5 outs. No-gap backdoor straight draws (8-9-10) are also counted as 1.5 outs. One gappers (7-9-10) are worth 1 out, and two gappers are worth one out.

Pocket: QJd

Board: 7c-4h- 10d

Outs: Overcards: 3 total (1.5 for the Q's, 1.5 for the J's)
Backdoor Draws: 3 total (1.5 each for the flush and no-gap straight draws)

Total: six outs.

As an aside, one thing to remember when you have a small number of outs is the likelihood of being confronted with a raise. Say you have two outs, and are getting pot odds for one bet. If you have an aggressive player to your left who is likely to make a raise, you need to know in advance if you will continue to have pot odds after the raise. If not, it might be better to fold (or check) rather than calling or betting.

Again, any rants, corrections or comments welcome.


Blogger Bloody P said...

It's Ed Miller, not David Miller.


I got 1/2 way through that book until I realized that I hate Limit poker.

1:28 PM  
Blogger C.L. Russo said...

Dang, I guess I lose some cred when I get the author wrong, huh?

6:10 PM  

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