It’s easy to feel helpless when you start playing poker and particularly Texas Hold’em. Even if you seek out inexperienced or similarly experienced players there are invariably some that know more than you. It seems that they exploit every mistake you make and that you’re always doing the wrong thing. The reality is that with just a little work you can easily improve to the point where you’re better than 90% or more of the opponents that you’ll face. There is a very small and elite group of world class poker players. That’s a tough level to crack but to become a very successful recreational player is an extremely realistic goal.

The key is to eliminate your bad habits and try to minimize your mistakes. At the same time, you want to learn the ‘right way’ to do things. There are a lot of ‘moving parts’ to both concepts. It’s starts with learning as much as you can about theory. It also requires a lot of time at the poker table where you’ll begin to tie together all of the various things that make for a successful poker player. You’ll learn to play the strong hands, learn to ‘read’ your opponents and learn about pot odds. You’ll also learn about the importance of ‘counting your outs’ during each hand.


In sports betting, an ‘out’ is a place where you can get down a bet. In poker, an ‘out’ is a card that can complete a hand. The first step is to know your poker hands inside and out but if you’re at the point where you’re reading poker theory articles you’ve probably got that down. After that, you need to learn how to ‘read the board’. This means you need to look at the cards that come ‘on the flop’ and figure out the possible hands. Is the board paired? What about possible straights and flushes?

Now you can start to ‘count your outs’. Any card that will give you the best hand is considered an ‘out’. It’s important not to mistakenly count a card that will give an opponent the best hand. Counting outs is important because once you know how to do it then you can learn to figure pot odds and more advanced poker concepts. Knowing how many ‘outs’ you have is important in determining not only how much to bet but whether or not to continue in a hand at all. You’ll be able to determine the likelihood of making your hand and once you can do that you’re halfway there.

Also implicit in being able to ‘count your outs’–you have to pay attention to the game. This is something that’s not always easy for beginners who are trying to figure out the best way to play the cards in their hand. You’ve got to pay as much attention to the cards on the table and your opponents–if not more so–than your own cards.