Poker Outs – No More Cheat Sheets

One of the many things that I want to achieve as I strive to fulfil my poker potential, is a highly in-depth knowledge of the maths involved.  Being an online player for so long, I’ve just got used to taking advantage of my faceless avatar and stowed the odd cheat sheet or two just out of sight of my opponents.  The fact that I can, is however, a lame excuse for a lack of complete knowledge.

I decided last night to try and memorise my outs vs odds table to start me off.  To make sure we’re all on the same page, what I mean is for any particular number of outs, what are my odds of improving on the turn or river.   I decided that the number I should focus on (for ease of use) is what my odds are for improving on the river only.  This is ever so slightly better odds than on the turn because there is one less card in the deck.  I would normally err on the side of being conservative with estimates to make sure I stay on the right side of expected value, but in this case I think it’s balanced by the amount of times you’ll see both cards for the price of a call on the flop.

I’m now going to go through what I remember without looking at the chart.  No really, I’m not going to look.

OUTS
% OF HITTING
OUTS
% OF HITTING
1
2
12
25%
2
4%
13
27%
3
6%
14
29%
4
8%
15
31%
5
10%
16
34%
6
12%
17
36%
7
15%
18
39%
8
17%
19
41%
9
19%
20
43%
10
21%
21
45%
11
23%
22
47%

Yup, checking that over I’ve got it spot on.  At least as spot on as I was aiming for.  As you can see I’ve rounded everything down to whole numbers, to help make it easy to remember.

You might think that I’ve done pretty well to recall all that (if you believe me), especially when I tell you that I only spent five minutes committing the numbers to memory (it actually took less time than creating that table – come on wordpress, sort out your tables).  But it actually wasn’t at all difficult.

Once I rounded everything down I pretty soon noticed that the first 6 are simple – the chance of hitting is double the number of outs.  When it gets to 7 and up it’s just double and add one.  This continues until 16 when it becomes double plus 2 and then 18 it changes to double plus 3.

So all I actually remembered is that it is double the outs plus 0, 1, 2 or 3 with the changes being at 7, 16 and 18.  That’s why it only took five minutes.  Why on earth hadn’t I done that before?

  • 1 – 6  = double
  • 7 – 15 = double + 1
  • 16 – 17 = double + 2
  • 18 up = double + 3

I think that it’s this sort of simple mnemonic that is going to be the key to unlocking the maths behind poker for me.  Maybe it could be for you too.

How Not To Play Heads Up

The other night I played a low buy-in single table tournament on PokerStars.  I got down to the final two and despite finding myself on the wrong side of a couple of coolers when I had him covered, it was pretty much the easiest finish to a tournament that I ever had.  My opponent was fairly predictable in general and fell into patterns of behaviour.

The worst thing that he did was to give me the advantage on nearly every single hand. Because it was heads up, the small blind was also the button, being in position after the flop.  We both chose to play around the same amount of hands from the small blind, and therefore we were folding around the same as each other.  The difference was that when he did play from small blind he would always call rather than raise giving me the option to check and see the flop.  When I was in the small blind I would always put in a minimum raise rather than call.

The result of this pattern is that when I was out of position post flop, we were playing for the minimum possible.  When I was in position, the pot had been nearly doubled.  This gave me a huge advantage and I found myself quickly adding to my stack without really having to do too much.  The maths just worked for me.

Where’s the startline?

I haven’t played much for the last month or so.  I’ve got quite a lot going on in my life right so time for poker is limited, which means that I’ve got to be at peace with the fact that this journey is likely to start pretty slow.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  Maybe that’ll help me focus on how important learning from each and every session is.

The other barrier, of course, is cash.  I don’t have much to add to a dismally small stake, so I’m expecting a bit of a grind.

Wow! Really starting with a bang then.

There are lots of different things that I need to spending time thinking about in regards to how I play, all of which affect my result.  Eventually I’ll try and get around to addressing all of them.  So…

  • Frame of mind
  • Environment
  • Distractions
  • Tables I play at
  • The type of game
  • Opponents
  • Knowledge of opponents
  • Knowledge of the maths
  • Stakes played
  • How many tables
  • How much time is available
  • Multi-tasking
  • Which site is used
  • Use of tracking software (I currently use Poker Tracker 3)

One of the major things that I want to sort out is to make sure that I play the best table available.  Why play in a tough game when there’s a soft game elsewhere?  Recently, like a lot of players it would seem, I’ve been defaulting far too often for playing on PokerStars. It’s a massive site but I’m limiting myself far too much.

So I need to figure out all the networks that I want to play at, and pick the best site of each.  Of course to play you have to have a bankroll, so every site that I’m expecting to have in my armoury has to be deposited into.  Like I say, I don’t have much cash, so it’s taking winnings from one to feed the next I guess.

For now, mainly because I need to have slept, woken up and got into the frame of mind to entertain a 3 year old in the next four and a half hours, I’m going to leave it there.