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Poker Fundamentals: Equity

Thanks for joining us for another episode of Poker Fundamentals. We hope that, whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a budding star, this series has helped you to nail down all the basics that you need to be a great player. So far, we’ve covered:

In this installment, we’re going to be zooming back into technical play and discussing one of the fundamental building blocks of all poker math. Let’s talk about equity.

What’s Your Equity?

In a word, equity is the amount of the pot that ‘belongs’ to you based on the cards you have in your hand. Otherwise put, it’s the likelihood that you’re going to win the pot.

Of course, unless you chop the pot, only one person can actually win. If you have 30% equity in a hand, you’re never going to actually win 30% of the pot. Instead, you can think of it like this: if you go to showdown, then you’ll win the whole pot 30% of the time.

Now, you’re probably wondering, how do we figure out this number in the first place? Well, there are two main methods.

The first is the old-fashioned way. You start by counting your outs, or how many cards are left in the deck that will make your hand. For instance, if you have an open-ended straight draw, then there are two cards from each suit that will make your hand. You have eight outs.

From there, you can use what we call the rule of four and two. On the flop, you multiply your outs by four, and, on the turn, you multiply them by two. The product is your equity.

Going back to the example, you have 32% equity on the flop and 16% on the turn with your open-ender.

The other way that you can figure out your equity is by using poker software such as Equilab or Flopzilla. Simply put in your hole cards, the board, and the range that you put your opponents on, and the software will spit out your equity.

Using Equity

Figuring out equity is such big game because it enables us to make better decisions. Basically, it tells us how good our hand is and whether we should put chips into the pot.

This brings us back to our discussion of pot-odds. If our equity is equal to or greater than our pot-odds, then calling is a +EV play. Basically, by calling with equity that is higher than your pot-odds, you will win more in the long run than you lose.

Going back to our open-ender example, let’s say that your opponent makes a quarter-pot sized bet, and you’re deciding whether to call. Well, since your pot odds are 1-5, you need at least 20% equity to call.

On the flop, since you’ve got 32% equity, you should make the call. On the turn, on the other hand, you’ve only got 16% equity, so the correct play is to fold to this bet.

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