What is an Outside Straight?
An outside straight is a poker hand of four consecutive cards, which is missing the first or last element to complete a set of five. For example, the hand 4-5-6-7-K is an outside straight. The run of five cards could be joined by a 3 or an 8 at either end and the set would be a complete straight. The phrase often appears in draw poker, where players can improve their hand by trading one or more cards for fresh ones.
Outside Straight Explained
If a poker player talks about an ‘outside straight’, they are referring to an incomplete straight of four cards which need a final card to make up a winning hand. The player needs to improve that hand on the turn or through the draw in order to have a hand they can take through to the showdown. For example, a player holding 2-6-7-8-9 has an outside straight. They need either the 5 or the 10 to make a full run. If they switch out the 2 at the draw, they have a chance of finishing the straight and going for the win. Gambling for a straight is risky, as it rules out other options. If the player does not get the 5 or 10 required, their best hope is another 9 to join up the highest possible pair – or worse, just an ace or king to challenge for the high card win.
Outside straights are more desirable than inside straights because they have more ‘outs’. Outs are ways in which a hand can be completed – possible options that would fill a ranked set. With an inside straight, the player is missing a card from the center of the run, and only that card will do. With four suits in a deck, this means there are only four possible chances to finish the inside straight. An outside straight can be finished at either end of the run. This creates eight different ‘outs’ for that hand, giving the player a much stronger chance of getting one of the cards they need for their hand.