Always Take Your Edge–Beginners

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Many of our players asked us to break down the correct answer for our How Many Outs quiz.  This is a Beginners article, written in a way to help our new players understand outs and hand percentages.

Our How Many Outs quiz focused on a community board up to 4th street (the turn).  Players have the option of picking one of three hands to play against the others.  The purpose of the trivia is to show beginner players how to correctly count outs in poker and make a mathematical decision on which hand will win the most often over the long term, which in turn helps players become more profitable players.  Here is the image:

poker outs

The correct answer is HAND A.

To be clear, this isn’t a subjective matter.  In a situation like this How Many Outs quiz where there’s no hidden information, the answer can almost always be calculated to absolute right and absolute wrong answers.  Also, with three drawing hands, the matter is reduced to the ability to correctly count outs in poker and then select the hand that has the highest win percentage over time.  A winning poker player always wants to be in poker situations where they have a higher chance of winning against their opponents.  If one hand has a higher win percentage than another hand, you will almost always want to hold the hand that has the clear edge over time.  This is because poker is never about one hand or one poker session.  A profitable or unprofitable poker player is calculated over the course of time, giving the mathematics behind hand selection a lot of weight.

Lets begin by calculating the outs of each hand.

Hand A has 11 outs to win the pot outright on the river.  (2S, 3S, 4S, Js, 2H, 3H, 4H, 2D, 3D, 4D, Jd.) 11 outs.

Hand B has 10 outs to win the pot outright on the river.   (5S, 6S, 7S, 5C, 5H, 6H, 7H, 5D, 6D, 7D)  10 outs.

Hand C has 9 outs to win the pot outright on the river.     (10S, AC, 2C, 3C, 4C, Jc, Kc, 10h, 10d) 9 outs.

These are absolute numbers.  Hand A will win the pot more times than either Hand B or Hand C.  In fact, the win percentage are approximately 26.190% for Hand A and 23.810% for Hand B and 21.429% for Hand C.  We are not calculating ties for this example. Instead, we are merely considering how many times one hand wins against the others.  Take another look, side by side:

Hand A: 11 outs, approx. 26.190% win
Hand B:  10 outs, approx. 23.910% win
Hand C:  9 outs, approx.  21.429% win

Think of poker percentages as an investment on your money over the long term.  For example, if you can make roughly 26% interest on your money over a five year period, why would you ever want to take less with 23% or 21%, when the surrounding conditions are exactly the same.  Winning poker players are always great at capitalizing on every single edge available to them at the poker table.  Sometimes a 3 or 4 percent edge is the difference between a profitable year at the tables and an unprofitable one.  When you hear players say things like “It’s only a 4% difference, it doesn’t really matter,” that only reveals that they aren’t playing poker, they’re playing bingo.  Poker is about long term profitability, and in the long term, EVERY percentage edge matters.

We will continue to post trivia and quizzes for our beginner players to learn how to calculate outs and pot odds and other fundamental poker concepts.  For this exercise, it’s important for our players to understand that calculating outs matter in poker.  Learn how to count them.

One last way for beginner players to understand why Hand A is the correct answer is this:  There are 11 cards left in the deck that gives Hand A the clear win on the river.  Hand B has only 10 cards left in the deck.  And Hand C only has 9 cards left in the deck for the win.  The more cards in the deck that gives you the win, the higher your win percentage becomes.  Simply put, Hand A wins the pot more often than the other two hands.

Take a look at the quiz again.   Now, which hand would you rather have against the others?  The one that wins the most often, or the two that lose more often?

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