How to Count Cards in Poker?

Updated: | By: Viktor Peters
How to Count Cards in Poker?

When most players consider card calculation, blackjack often comes to mind first. Counting cards is a widely known strategy in this game, frequently prohibited. However, it’s essential to note that this technique isn’t exclusive to blackjack. Surprisingly, it is also a prevalent strategy in poker. This approach gives players an edge over opponents, enhancing their prospects of winning. But is it illegal to count cards? And if not, how does one acquire this skill? All the essential information you need is covered in this article.

Before you even learn how to count cards poker, you should know whether this strategy is legal or illegal. Unlike in blackjack, where counting cards is prohibited, you’ll be glad to know that in poker, it’s perfectly legal. Many seasoned players use this approach as a critical tactic to succeed in tournaments and betting rounds. If you aspire to excel in poker, mastering the skill of card counting is essential. When combined with abilities like bluffing, reading opponents, and knowing when to fold, this strategy highlights why poker is a game where skill plays a more significant role than luck.

Learning How to Count Cards in Poker

Now that you know all the legal background, it is time to learn how to do so. The counting process includes remembering and tracking cards already dealt with. As a result, you will be able to anticipate what will come next.; When discussing counting cards in poker, knowing that this strategy does not guarantee you wins is essential. It only increases your chances of one. There are two main options for this process – blockers and counting outs.

Blockers

The blocker strategy is used when playing 52-deck poker games like Texas Hold ’em. Basically, it requires you to keep an eye on your hole cards (2 cards in your hand) and the community cards on the table.; Let’s say you have a 5 of spades and a 6 of hearts. The community cards are 2, 3 and 4 of Spades, Ace of Hearts and Queen of Clovers. Judging from your hand and the community cards, you can be sure that none of your opponents have a straight flush.; Why? Because to do so, they need 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in spades, and you have the 5. Hence, you break up the sequential order. In other words, you are blocking it, and that’s where the name of this strategy comes – blockers.

Counting Outs

This is a far more complicated strategy as it requires using your mathematical knowledge. Here, everything revolves around calculating your percentage of ending up with a particular winning combination.; Here’s how that works. Let’s say your hand is J and Q in spades. The community card flop is 7 and 8 in spades and a King of hearts. As it turns out, you have four cards in spades, and you only miss one to make a flush.; You will need A, K, 10, 9, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2 in spades to complete the winning hand. This is where the second part of the strategy comes into play: calculating the equity.; One interesting general rule that applies in Texas Hold ’em is the rule of 4 and 2. That means that if you have 2 cards left in the pot, you calculate your odds by 4 and if you have 1 card remaining — by 2.; Here’s how that applies in our specific case. As we just noted, 9 potential cards can complete our flush. Hence, the first part of our equation has the number 9. The flop has three cards, meaning that two cards are remaining. So, the second part of our equation is 4. We multiply 9 and 4 and end up with 36, the win percentage. Hence, you have a 36% chance of winning.; You can also take the pot into the equation and get a range of minimum and maximum chances of winning. Let’s say that the current pool is A$100. Three players are remaining on the table – you and two other competitors. One of them decides to go all in with A$40, and the other calls and goes all in.; If you want to stay in the game, you have to make a call. Let’s say your hand is pretty good, so you follow the others. Now, the whole pot is A$220. To determine your minimum chance of winning, divide your bet by the total pot. In this scenario, it’s 40 divided by 220, which gives you 0.18. Then, you multiply that number by 100, and you get 18. So, your minimum winning percentage is 18%. So, to round it all out, your odds of winning go as low as 18% and as high as 36%.;

Calculating General Odds of Winning and Probabilities

At the beginning of a poker game, you can’t start counting cards because there’s nothing revealed yet. All you have are your hole cards, which isn’t much to go on. However, you can rely on mathematical probabilities to estimate your chances of winning hands. As the flop is revealed, these chances can go up or down. The table below illustrates the possibilities of succeeding with your hands, considering both 5-card and 7-card hands.;
Winning Combination 5-Card Hand Probability (%) 7-Card Hand Probability (%)
High Card 50.1177 17.4
Pair; 42.2569 43.8
Two-Pair; 4.7539 23.5
Three-of-a- Kind 2.1128 4.83
Straight 0.3925 4.62
Flush 0.1965 3.03
Full House 0.1441 2.60
4 of a Kind; 0.02401 0.168
Straight Flush; 0.00139 0.0279
Royal Flush 0.000154 0.0032
As you can see, the better the winning hand is, the harder it is for you to have it. Royal Flush, for example, is the strongest winning combination, but its probability of dropping is extremely low. You shouldn’t take these percentages into heavy consideration, but they are a good indicator of what you can expect from a certain poker betting round.;

Final Thoughts

Poker is by far one of the most complicated casino games. The fact that the gameplay has so many variants makes it easy to understand why beginners do not resort to it. You need to take tons of things into consideration.; The good thing is that you can use specific strategies to increase your chances of winning, and counting cards is one of them. Counting cards in poker is legal, and the best players always use this method to calculate their odds of winning.; However, remember that you need to remain focused at all times. There are tons of equations that you need to calculate with each new hand and each betting round. So, make sure you get familiar with the art before using it to play poker for real money. The Internet is packed with demo versions of poker, and you can use them to master the skill. After you do so, you can test your luck in real money poker.
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