Monday, February 4, 2008

Stupid/System 003: Counting Outs

One thing that separates top players is the ability to quickly calculate the odds of winning a hand, and to construct a reasonable idea of what sort of bet that hand is worth. You also must be able to master this skill if you wish to be a successful player in the long-term.

For example, a lot of players, facing a big re-raise will simply fold their hand unless they are holding a large pocket pair or Big Slick (which is awesome poker slang for Ace King). Not so fast! Here’s a simple fact that you may not know: A folded hand has NEVER won a pot. It’s true! Think about it! There have probably been thousands of hands folded in the history of poker (some of them have probably even been yours), and not one of them has ever scooped a single chip. Every time you fold, you’re just bleeding equity all over the place, and I just had the carpets cleaned. So knock it off.

The bottom line is, don’t be so quick to just throw that hand away. First, it’s important to count your outs and weigh the true strength of your hand.

Hand 3-1

Situation: A large field MTT online, a few minutes before the first break. You have been playing totally awesome and have nearly 10,000 chips. Player F is a total donkey and has barely played more than five hands. The lucksack caught a set one time and won a lot of chips.

Your hand: [9d3s]

Action to you: Player A folds.

Question: Do you raise a lot or just a little?

Answer: You have a pretty good hand, especially if the flop is like A33 or something, so you definitely want to play. That said, I don’t think you want to go all-in yet. Just make it about 500 to go.

Action: You make it 500. Players C, D, and E fold. Player F raises to 1200. The pot is now 1850. What do you do?

At this point, you have to use your powers of observation. First of all, Player F is a total rock, so he’s probably got Queens or better, or at least Ace King. An inexperienced player might be tempted to fold here.

Stop. Breathe. Count your outs.

You have a diamond and a spade, so those suits help bring you flushes. So count twelve diamonds and twelve spades for 24 outs.

Threes and nines help you, obviously. There are three of each, so that’s six more outs.

Aces, deuces, fours through eights, and tens through Kings all help make you a straight. There are four of each of these, so that’s 44 more outs. You have to count those spades and diamonds again, because of the potential for a straight flush.

So you have 74 outs. Now remember there are five cards on the flop, so you have to multiply by 5, and you see that you have 370% equity in this hand. Since you are only being asked to call 700 more into a pot of 1,800, you are getting 700:1800 on your money. Therefore you clearly have the pot odds you need to play this hand. Also, were you observant enough to see that your opponent caught a monster set the last hand he played? He’s not getting lucky again. Also, even if he happens to luck out on you, you still have almost 2,000 chips left. Just push all in.

Action: You push all-in, and Player F calls. He shows Aces, and you make a pair of threes on the flop and two pair on the river. Player F [Observer] berates you; he clearly doesn’t understand the finer points of pre-flop play. Also, it’s just $10. The dude really should relax. Seriously.

You can see in this example that folding would have been a costly move. It’s not just the chips you’d have lost from your initial bet. It’s the chips you wouldn’t have won.

[Excerpted from Stupid/System: Poker Strategy For Huge Donkeys, (c) Julius_Goat 2008, All Rights Reserved. Cover design by Mookie "Big O" Pokeroum.]


OhCaptain said...

Very good! I saw a few people excelling in this very technique this weekend!

Keep up the great work!

Gnome said...

Nice! I'll never fold again.
One thing though -- I think you made trip 3s on the river, not two pair.
Good thing you had all those outs.

Gadzooks64 said...

It's all so clear to me now.

Thank gawds I read this tonight and not in the am when I would have spewed coffee all over myself.

NH, GG, Supremely well played sir.

Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Oh my god... I lost it at "So you have 74 outs." That was hilarious.

Astin said...

Well of course you beat a guy with Aces. Who would play a pair of ones anyway? Sure, he's got 46 outs here, but your straight, flush, and straight flush draws take at least some of those away from him. A pocket pair is such a limited hand for improvement that he has to figure he's beat. Especially Aces, where straights can only go one way.

I don't know JG, your first post had me sold on this book, but if you're going to use examples as basic and obvious as this one, I'm not sure it has that much to offer me. Maybe the next excerpt will convince me otherwise.

Chad C said...

I think people took your advice and applied it in MATH last night!

BWoP said...

I can't wait for the Omaha section of this book. I never could figure out why people thought they had 126 outs.

Nicely done.

dueyv9 said...

Dude...I am an instant fan of your blog. And Lost is a freakin awesome show.

Thanks to Micheal Craig for showing me the light

Fred said...

Are you published? great stuff man, I haven't laugh this hard in a long time!

lj said...

fantastic stuff. congrats on your "runner up" prize!!!

KajaPoker said...

FTOPS KO madness, here Goat comes. Too bad you had to pucker up to MC to get there, but you have to use your talents somehow :-)

bayne_s said...

Big woot.

How you did not get into FTOPS 1 escapes me

donna said...
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