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Quick Reference Guide

Poker Basics

  • 52 Cards in Deck
  • 4 Suits (Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs)
  • 13 cards for each suit

Hand Rankings

Royal Flush

Straight Flush

Four of a Kind (Quads)

Full House (Boat)



Three of a Kind (Trips or Set)

Two Pair

One Pair

High Card

Q- Ratio

C = Current chip stack
S = Starting chip stack
P = Current number of players
B = Beginning number of players

(C/S) x (P/B) = Q

Q - Ratio of less than 1 indicates below average chip stack

Use Q-ratio in conjunction with M-ratio


Stack/SB + BB + (total antes) = M

M = # of orbits player can survive before being "blinded out"

Hand by Hand Odds

  • N = number of outs
  • P= your hand's win percentage

10 outs or less:

After the flop:

N x 4 = P

After the turn:

N x 2 = X

Round X to nearest 10, add 1st digit of rounded result to true value of X


4 x 2 = 8 (round to 10)

8+1 = 9%

More than 10 outs:

After the flop:

(N x 3) + 9 = P

After the turn:

N x 2 = X

Round X to nearest 10, add 1st digit of rounded result to true value of X




Q-Ratio is used during tournament play to define the relationship between a player's stack to that of the average stack. A Q-ratio less than 1 indicates a below average chip stack. You can use Q-ratio in conjunction with M-ratio to track your progress during a tournament.

Q-ratio is found by using the following formula:

  • C = Current chip stack
  • S = Starting chip stack
  • P = Current number of players remaining in tournament
  • B = Beginning number of players in tournament

(C/S) x (P/B) = Q

This may sound complex when written out as a formula, but in actual fact this is simply based on ideas and concepts with which most poker players will already be familiar. If you are not used to using these terms, then there are plenty of information sites, such as http://www.onlinepoker.com/ , which will provide you with a basic understanding of what they mean. This is simply a useful formula to help you to understand more about your position within a game, using information which is already available to you.  


You have 36,000 in chips and began the tournament with 12,000 in chips. There are 9 players remaining; the tournament started with 30 players.

(36,000/12,000) x (9/30) = 3 x 0.3 = 0.9

In the above example, your Q-ratio would be 0.9. This indicates your chip stack has not kept pace with the elimination of players and your chip stack is now below average. You should use your Q-ratio rating in conjuction with your M-ratio range as described below.

The above information comes from the following sources:

  1. Wikipedia
  2. Harrington on Hold'em: Volume II; The Endgame, p.127


A term invented by poker professional Paul Magriel and refined by Dan Harrington, M-ratio is defined as the health of a players chip stack in relationship to the cost of playing a hand. It tells you exactly how many orbits (or rounds) a player can survive before being "blinded out."

  • A player with a high M can wait patiently before making a move because they have a healthy enough stack.
  • A player with a low M must act soon or lose their ability to force other players into a tough decision due to their raise or all-in not being much more than the big blind

M-ratio is calculated using the following formula:

Stack/small blind + big blind + (total antes) = M


A player sitting at a 10-handed table with $22,000 in chips where blinds were $400/$800 with a $100 ante, would have a M-ratio of 10:

22,000/400 + 800 + (100 x 10) = 22,000/2,200= 10

M-ratio of 10 at a 10-handed table means a player can survive 10 orbits (a total of 80 hands) before being "blinded-out."

M-ratio is helpful when determining whether or not your most effective move is to go all-in or make an aggressive raise. Dan Harrington furter refined the M-ratio concept by creating the following "zones:"

* M > 20 - Green Zone *

  • Most powerful position, freedom to play as conservatively or aggressively as desired

* 10 < M < 20 - Yellow Zone *

  • More risk must be taken, hands such as small pairs and suited connectors lose value

* 6 < M < 10 - Orange Zone *

  • MUST be first-in (initiate action) everytime you decide to play: preserving chips is priority

* 1 < M < 6 - Red Zone *

  • Your ONLY move is all-in or fold

* M < 1 - Dead Zone *

  • Complete dependence on luck, all-in is the ONLY option

The above information comes from the following sources:

  1. Harrington on Hold 'Em
  2. Tournament No-Limit Hold'em: Harrington's Zone System - Poker Strategy - PokerListings.com
  3. Harrington on Holdem, Volume II, p129

Simple formula for calculating hand by hand odds

Whenever you are involved in a hand, use this simple formula to help you calculate your chance of winning the hand.

N = number of live outs
P= your hand's win percentage

If less than 10 outs use the following formulas:

After the flop:

N x 4 = P

Example for 9 outs: 9 x 4 = 36%

After the turn:

Find N x 2 and round value up or down to nearest 10

Example for 9 outs: 9 x 2 = 18; 18 is rounded to 20

Now take result of N x 2 and add it to 1st number of rounded value

Example: (9 x 2) + 2 = 20%

If more than 10 outs use the following formulas:

After the flop:

(N x 3) + 9 = P

Example for 15 outs: (15 x 3) + 9 = 54%

After the turn:

Use same formula listed above

Let's use an example: You and one other opponent are involved in a hand. You hold AK of spades.

The flop comes Qs-Js-6d. You now have a Royal Flush draw, one of the best drawing hands in poker! However, your opponent has just put you all-in after the flop and now you have a decision to make. Should you call or fold?

First you need to determine how many "outs" you have because you technically have not made a hand yet.  There are 12 cards that, if they come, will give you a virtually unbeatable hand:

9 Spades + 3 Tens + 3 Kings + 3 Aces = 18 outs

So, you have 18 outs, now plug that info into the formula:

(18 x 3) + 9 = 63%

That means that you have a 63% chance to hit one of your 18 outs on the turn.

Lets say you miss on the turn.  That’s OK, you still have those same 18 outs again.  So plug them into the correct formula:

18 x 2 = 36; Round 36 up to 40 and complete the equation:  36 + 4 = 40%

That means you still have a 40% chance to hit one of your 18 outs on the river. 

****Remember that if you are only up against one other player, they have a 60% chance of winning the hand at this point (That was found by taking your 40% and subtracting from 100%).  That means you are almost even money to win the hand on the river.  Still pretty good odds, especially since you would have had to commit all of your chips to continue the hand. In this example, you've got the right odds to make that all-in call.****

If you're ever unsure of your math, use the poker odds calculator on the right. If you've worked the formula properly, the percentages you come up with will be equal to those on the odds calculator!



Odds Calculator

Use the Poker Odds Calculator to help you learn your percentage to win ANY hand.

To use the calculator, first give yourself a hand by selecting any two cards. Then click on the "Seat 1" space to give that player a hand. Repeat as necessary.

If you make a mistake, mouse over the card you wish to change. Follow the same procedure to place cards on the flop, turn, and river.

Once you place cards in the flop, any card turning green is one of your "outs." Any card turning red means bad news for you.

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