Poker Strategy - 8/8 - Equity
This is the eighth and final part of an eight-part guide to the basics of poker strategy. If you missed the previous part, "Combinations and Card Removal", then you'll find it here.
You'll probably already be familiar with the concept of equity - just not in a poker-playing sense. If you own a house, then the value that your house has is its equity. In poker, equity is the percentage value that determines how likely your hand is ahead of your opponent's hand or range, and how much it will win come the showdown. If your hand currently has an equity value of 75 percent, and your opponent's hand has an equity value of 25 percent, then that means that your hand will win the showdown approximately 75 times out of one hundred, and your opponent's hand will win on average 25 times out of one hundred. Mathematically you will win 75 percent of the current pot, so it is on that basis that you should play out your hand.
Equity can be difficult to calculate. Thankfully, there are a number of approved software tools out there that you can use whilst playing Hold'em or Omaha online that will quickly calculate your hands' equity for you. If you do end up playing at real tables though, your opponents are not likely to remain friendly if you're whipping out a calculator every couple of minutes, so you really need to get used to calculating equity in your head.
To make matters more complex, the equity of your hand is not fixed, and it changes whenever a new card or cards is added to the community set. If, for example, in a hand of Texas Hold'em poker before the flop you have a really tasty pair of aces, and your opponent only has a pair of fours, then your equity stands at 81 percent, and your opponents' at 19 percent. If the flop contains a four, then your equity plummets to 11 percent, and your opponents' rockets to 89 percent. If you're then lucky enough to find an ace on the turn then you're back up to 97 percent and you're likely to have the nuts.
Your Opponent's Range Determines Your Equity
Say you have 7♥7♦ as your hole cards, and you assumed your opponent's range to be AT+ 88+. The question is this: How does your equity change when compared against each specific range?
Against AT+ you have a 54 percent chance of winning, and against 88+ you only have a 19 percent chance of winning.
Common examples of equity comparison can be found here:
It's best to attempt to memorize these figures as you can use them quickly in play to work out your next move in any given situation.
Estimating your equity after the flop can be done by using a simple method that is known as "the rule of two and four", and goes as follows:
- Multiply your outs by two when you are on the flop and are waiting for the turn
- Multiply your outs by two when you are on the turn and are waiting for the river
- Multiply your outs by four when you are on the flop and are waiting for the river
Although this method is known as the rule of two and four, the multiplication by four is infrequently done, as it only applies when your opponent has called all-in post-flop. Obviously the multiplier doubles in this case, as you get to see two cards before the showdown as your opponent cannot perform any more betting.
You will get a close-enough estimate of your percentage odds if you use this rule. You will then know how likely you are to win the pot, and know how to play the remainder of the hand.
This concludes the eighth and final lesson in an eight-part series on the basics of poker strategy.