This
is the second in a twopart series aimed at the numerically
challenged, statistically phobic, or players otherwise unaware
of the degree to which poker dwells within mathematical
and statistical parameters. While there's much more to this
subject than two articles can cover, it's a start  an
introduction of sorts  to a topic many players are prone
to avoid, even when they know better.
In
Part 1 we talked about why the number of opponents in any
given hand is important. You learned that there is a gaggle
of plays that stand a good chance of succeeding against
one or two opponents, but generally fail against four opponents
or more. There are also hands and tactics that work better
against a full complement of opponents than they do against
one or two.
We also discussed the importance of knowing how many times
the flop has to hit you when considering how to play your
hand. With AK, one hit will frequently suffice. With a
hand like 76, you probably need the flop to hit you twice,
particularly if someone has raised.
Quick
Count Number 3: How Many Times Outs Do You Have?
This
concept is analogous to counting the number of times the
flop has to hit you. But when you're counting outs, you've
already seen the flop and are trying to determine how many
good cards are left in that deck. Knowing how many chances
you have is vital information when trying to decide whether
to continue with a drawing hand.
One
of the nice things about Hold'em, as compared to 7card
stud, is that the number of discernable outs is always the
same for any given situation. If you're playing stud, you
may hold four hearts on your first four cards, but the number
of hearts remaining in the deck has to be determined by
counting your opponents' exposed cards as well as those
you're holding.
But
in Hold'em, if you begin with two hearts and two more pop
up on the flop, you have nine outs  two in your hand and
the two that flopped subtracted from a total of 13 hearts
in the deck. It's that simple. Unless an opponent has inadvertently
exposed a heart, any time you flop a fourflush you have
nine outs  no more, no less.
If
you flop an open ended straight, you have eight outs. With
two pair you might have the best hand right now, along with
four additional outs to a full house. If you flop a set,
there are seven cards that will help you on the turn. One
gives you four of a kind. Three cards will pair one of the
board cards and three will pair the other, giving you a
full house in either case, and ameliorating any concerns
about an opponent catching a card to make a straight or
flush.
Even
if the turn card is no help, it still provides three additional
outs on the river. Now there are nine cards that will pair
the board, giving you a full house, along with that elusive
casecard that will give you quads.
Quick
Count Number 4: What Are the Odds You Need to Know?
It's
not difficult to learn how to figure the odds for common
Hold'em situations, but there's not enough room in this
column to teach that to you. Instead, a chart is provided
that you can commit to memory.
Outs

Chance
of Success

Odds
Against Success 
15

54.1%

0.8:1

Draw
for a straight or a flush 
14

51.2%

1.0:1


13

48.1%

1.1:1


12

45.0%

1.2:1


11

41.7%

1.4:1


10

38.4%

1.6:1


9

35.0%

1.9:1

Flush
Draw 
8

31.5%

2.2:1

Openended
Straight Draw 
7

27.8%

2.6:1


6

24.1%

3.1:1


5

20.3%

3.9:1


4

16.5%

5.1:1

Draw
to Improve Two Pair 
3

12.5%

7.0:1


2

8.4%

10.9:1


1

4.3%

22.3:1


The
odds against an event occurring are shown in the righthand
column. The chances of success, expressed as a percentage,
are shown in the middle column, and the number of outs is
shown on the left. Is there a relationship between them?
Of course. Whenever you flop a flush draw, there's a 35
percent chance of succeeding. That means you have a 65 percent
chance of failure, which converts to 1.9to1 odds against
making a flush.
You
can learn to do the math without any special computational
ability. It's comforting to be able to do it  trust me
 and nice to know that you don't have to rely on anyone
but yourself to calc the odds. Doing, as opposed to memorizing,
also facilitates learning.
Quick
Count Number 5: Pot Odds versus Implied Odds
There's
no cheap, easy trick here. To figure pot odds, you need
to keep track of the amount of money in the pot. The easiest
way is to count the number of players active on each round,
account for the blinds if they've folded, and be sure to
adjust for higher betting limits on the turn and river.
This is half of poker's basic equation: Does the money offered
by the pot exceed the odds against making your hand? If
you have a flush draw, and the odds against making your
hand are 1.9to1, you need to know that the pot will more
than offset those odds before deciding whether to play or
fold. If the pot promises a return of twotoone on your
investment, it certainly pays to call when the odds against
your ultimate success are only 1.9to1.
But
how do you know whether the pot will grow large or stay
small? That's where implied odds come in. Implied odds are
your best estimate of the money likely to be in the pot
once all the betting is complete. This estimate, when compared
to the odds against making your hand, is frequently the
linchpin in your playorpass decision.
There's no formula to follow in making these estimates,
but these four guidelines will help:
·
Know your opponent.
·
Count the pot.
· Estimate the amount of money likely to be wagered in subsequent
betting rounds.
· Know your own chances of success.
Otherwise you are navigating without moon, stars, or sextant
 and likely to be lost at sea.