Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

December 19, 2005

Learning Is The Key

The wife and I went up to our friend's place this weekend for a Christmas party. We got there a little early, so Mike showed me some of the stuff he got early for Christmas. One of these was a no limit holdem instructional video by Phil Gordon. I'd never really watched any instructional stuff for poker, so he popped it in. I learned some very valuable stuff, and I'm now going to pass on the most valuable tool to you readers. It is called "The Rule of 4 and 2" and will help you better determine what hands you should stick with after the flop.

The Rule of 4 and 2:
-After the flop, take the number of outs that you have and multiply that number by four. This is the percent chance that you will make your hand.
-After the turn, take the number of outs that you have and multiply that number by two. This is the percent chance that you will make your hand.

These numbers are not exact, but they are extremely close approximations. So, the way to determine whether or not you stick with a hand after the flop is to calculate your pot odds. I will provide an example below.

You are dealt 67d
Flop comes 8d 9c Ad
Pot size: $300

The person ahead of you bets $200, making the pot $500. You are being asked to call $200 into a $500 pot, or 200/500 = 40%. You have nine diamonds as outs for a flush and eight 10s and 5s as outs for a straight. However, one 10 and one 8 are also diamonds, so be careful not to count them twice. So your total number of outs is 15: 2d, 3d, 4d, 5d, 9d, 10d, Jd, Qd, Kd, 5s, 5c, 5h, 10s, 10h, and 10c. Take your number of outs and multiply by four. 15 x 4 = 60%. Since you are getting a 60% chance of success for a 40% call to the pot, you should definitely make the call.

I put this system to the test yesterday, finishing in the money three times out of four. I probably would have finished in the money all four times, but I was bad beat out of a hand in the first game I played. Regardless of that outcome, I still made the right decision.

This will definitely help to improve my game. Not only does it help you know what hands to call, but it also lets you calculate how much you should raise to try and push other players off of a drawing hand. Even if this wasn't new for you, it was hopefully a nice little refresher. I love learning about this game, and I hope that I can keep improving to the point where I can consistently do well in large tournament fields.


  • i consider my outs pretty well, and i had heard that rule of 4 and 2 before. but when it comes to applying that to POT odds, and making the ratio between the bet and the chance of making a "winning" hand, that's when it becomes too much for me. i'm capable of the math, but that's just too much for my liking. i'm more of an "instinct" player, i guess. if i think i have the winning hand, i'll call unreasonably big bets.

    By Anonymous eric, at 12/21/2005 9:35 AM  

  • This is by far not the be-all-end-all way to determine whether you should stay in a hand. It's just a very useful tool. You always have to consider your opponent and their play style. For instance, the hand in the WWdN tourney last night (posted further up) that I got sucked out on. She had been betting aggressively, and even though there was an over card on the board, and the pot odds were not exactly in my favor, I made the correct call. I just got unlucky.

    By Blogger Matt Silverthorn, at 12/21/2005 11:03 AM  

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