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February 12, 2024

How To Count Cards in Texas Hold’em and Make Better Poker Moves

Card counting is usually associated with blackjack, where it may give you a significant advantage over the house—which is why it can sometimes get you banned from the casino. 

In Texas hold’em, card counting is entirely different and used to gain an advantage over other players, not the house. You are encouraged to calculate your hand odds and use math to predict your opponent’s cards, moves, and intentions. 

Knowing how to count cards in Texas hold’em can give you a figurative ace up your sleeve, whether at a real or virtual poker table

Counting Cards in Texas Hold’em Poker—How Does It Work?

To define card counting in Texas hold’em, there are three main factors you should grasp first:

  1. Starting hand odds and probabilities
  2. Opponents’ possible starting hands
  3. Pot odds and implied odds

Starting Hand Odds and Probabilities

The two hole cards you are dealt at the start of a Texas hold’em game and the subsequent community cards give the information for predicting your odds. During pre-flop, there isn’t much math you can use as you only have two cards to work with. You can only know the number of outs you have.

In later stages, you can use the community cards to make more precise calculations. For example, if the community board shows 4, 5, and 6 of hearts on the flop, and your starting hand combination is an ace of diamonds and 7 of hearts, there are four visible hearts. You can subtract those from a total of 13 hearts there are in the deck and see that you have:

  • 7 possible outs that will help you make a flush (any heart you will use)
  • 2 possible outs that will help you make a straight flush (either a 3 or 8 of hearts) 

Opponents’ Possible Combinations

Image source: Samuel Regan-Asante

The information you use to calculate your outs can also help you make an educated guess regarding your opponents’ outs.

For example, if your starting hand is an ace of diamonds and a king of clubs, and the community cards are jack, 9, and 6 of diamonds, 5 of clubs, and 3 of hearts, the ace in your hand is the card that prevents your opponents from making an ace-high flush. This card is called a “blocker” and can be defined as a card that could be your opponents’ out, but they can never get it because it is in your hands.

Gaining an advantage over your opponents isn’t only about math. You should also observe their behaviour, such as:

This can give you valuable insight and help you manipulate their decisions with bluffing. 

Pot Odds and Implied Odds

Card counting also enables you to assess the two main percentages:

  1. Pot odds—Ratio of the current pot size to the bet you intend to call
  2. Implied odds—Potential bets you might win if you achieve your drawing hand

Calculating your pot odds and implied odds helps you determine whether the potential reward is worth the decision to call or raise.  

For example, your hole cards are 4 and 5 of hearts, and the board shows 6, 7, and 10 of hearts on the flop. If the pot is $100, and the player before you places a bet of $20, you would divide the pot size by the opponent’s bet and get 5.

To reach the implied odds number, you should add the current pot odds (5) to the potential future profit. For example, if you hit your straight, your opponent should be paying you an added $50, and your implied odds become 55. You will want to compare this with the chances of reaching your desired hand, which should then help you decide whether to call or not.

How Can You Count Cards in Texas Hold’em To Determine Your Equity?

Shown in percentages, equity is your chance of winning the pot based on your current hand situation. Calculating your equity is closely related to determining pot odds. For example, if equity is higher than the pot odds, calling or betting is usually a smart decision. If it’s lower than the pot odds, you might be better off folding.

Equity is only measured on the flop and turn because when you reach the river, there are no more outs to be drawn.

To determine your equity, you can use a popular 2 and 4 rule. You can multiply the number of outs you have by 4 on the flop (when there are two more cards to be added) and by 2 on the turn (when there is one more card to be added).

For example, if you have nine outs on the flop, the current pot size is $50, and the player before you went all-in, you will:

  1. Multiply your outs by 4 and get 36% (your chances of making a winning hand)
  2. Divide the amount you need to bet by what the pot size will be after you place your bet ($50/$150) and get 0.3333
  3. Turn the result into a percentage and get 33%
  4. Decide to call your opponent’s bet, seeing as your equity is 33%, and the odds of drawing one of your outs is 36%

Memorize the Odds of the Most Common Combinations

Image source: Rich Smith

To count cards in Texas hold’em quicker, it’s useful to memorize some of the most common hand combinations and their outs presented in the following table.

Hand CombinationDefinitionNumber of Outs
Flush drawA hand with four cards of the same suit9
Open-ended straight drawA straight that can be completed with two outs, one at each end8
Gutshot straight drawA scenario in which you are missing a fifth card in the middle of your hand to complete a straight. The missing card is also called an “inside straight draw” or “belly buster straight draw”4
OvercardA community card on a flop that is of higher value than a pair in your starting hand3–6
Bottom pairA scenario in which you use the lowest card on the flop to pair with a card in your starting hand5

Knowing your outs is only the starting point for counting cards in Texas hold’em—you still need to be able to calculate your odds. For that, practice makes perfect.

Practice Texas Hold’em Card Counting by Playing Online

Image source: PDPics

While there are many Texas hold’em charts that can help you learn the theory, nothing will get you as far as playing online poker.

Among numerous casino websites, it can be hard to filter out the ones that abide by the rules and regulations while offering a premium gambling experience. A good place to start is by registering at one of our recommended venues.

Below is a table outlining some of the prestigious and law-abiding online casinos you can sign up for and practice Texas hold’em card counting:

CasinoLicenseGateway
888 CasinoMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register NOW!
ComeOnMalta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Curaçao Gaming Control Board
Register NOW!
Lucky DaysMalta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register NOW!
PlayOJOMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register NOW!
HelloCasinoMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Register NOW!
CasumoMalta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
Register NOW!
MansionCasinoUK Gambling Commission
Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner
Register NOW!
PartySportsMalta Gaming Authority
UK Gambling Commission
Register NOW!
Ruby Fortune Malta Gaming Authority
Swedish Gambling Authority
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
Register NOW!
BetMGM CasinoAlderney Gambling Control CommissionRegister NOW!

Whether you prefer more casual games or high-stakes Texas hold’em tournaments, figuring out how to count cards in Texas hold’em can help you refine your poker strategy. The best way to do this is by signing up at one of the above casinos and starting practicing today!

Featured image source: Andrik Langfield

Tuomas Laine

Navigating offers and finding the best, Tuomas is our dedicated Casino Bonus Hunter

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