Just as many
players overlook the effects of position and exposed
cards to lower the value of a hand, so too do they
sometimes overlook extra outs to increase the value
of a hand. An out is a way of improving your hand.
With four hearts your only out is another heart.
But suppose you have two pair along with the four-flush
against what looks like aces up. Now you have two
outs - making a flush and a full house. Suppose
you have a four flush, two pair, and an inside straight
draw. Now you have three outs - that is, three ways
of beating your opponent with the aces up, assuming
that player doesn't fill. Each extra out increases
the value of your hand, and it increases it considerably
more than may at first be apparent. Starting off
with a two-flush and a pair in seven-card stud is
significantly better than starting with a pair and
no two-flush. In hold 'em, a back-door straight
(that is, a possible straight requiring two perfect
cards at the end) or a back-door flush draw along
with a pair may be enough to change a fold to a
To see how much effect these extra outs have, let's
say we assess our hand as a 7-to-1 underdog. Now
we notice we have an extra out that is about 20-to-1
against coming in. By itself that extra out is a
long shot, but it adds tremendously to our chances
of improving. Changing those 7-to-1 and 20-to-1
odds to percentages, we have a 121/2 percent chance
and about a 5 percent chance, which, added together,
comes to approximately 171/2 percent. Returning
from percentages to odds, we see that the extra
out has dropped us from a 7-to-1 underdog to a 43/4-to-1
underdog. With pot odds of, say, 5-to-1 or 6-to-1,
a hand we would have folded now becomes one worth
playing. Always be aware of extra outs. Otherwise
you may fold hands with which you should have called.
main downside is one shared by most posting forums:
it's web-based, which means that if you don't have
a fast connection, you'll go insane trying to follow
a thread. A dial-up connection just won't cut it.
You also have to be willing to live with occasional
censorship and with decisions to take down threads
which the site overseers deem as improper. Most of
the time, these decisions aren't just appropriate,
they're praiseworthy: Ads and personal attacks don't
belong on an analytical posting forum. Every once
in a while, the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between opinions
and facts. For the most part, though, most poker players
would achieve much better results if they would follow
The World According to S&M. I think that's where
your poker education should start, although it should
not end there.
The only other downside isn't really a downside so
much as a set of features you can't use as a beginner.
This is a serious poker forum. Beginners will be overwhelmed
by much of the terminology they'll run into at the
site and by many of the concepts the posters take
for granted. Don't get frustrated.
Unitedpokerforum.com has Mike Caro and Roy Cooke,
two great writers, behind it, and that's enough for
me. The forum isn't as organized as Twoplustwo, but
it feels more casual and relaxed and user-friendly.
I suggest you visit both, and "lurk" (read
There are other forums, but these three should be
enough to keep you busy for, at a rough guess, the
next 42.042 years.