Poker Equity: what it is and how to calculate it

When we talk about poker there is something that we must always take into account, the chances of winning a hand. The poker equity is one of the most important concepts that we can find in this popular card game because it allows us to know the odds we have of winning a hand against another player or the rest of the players at a given time.

In this article we are going to see it in more detail so that you can solve all your doubts regarding this issue. Next, we will explain what is poker equity and how to calculate poker equity. Read on for more information.

What is equity in poker?

As we mentioned in the introduction, the concept of equity in poker has to do with fairness. Specifically, with the equity that each player at the table has in relation to a part of the pot that is his according to the probabilities of winning at a given time. This is a measure that is expressed as a percentage and reflects the times in which a player has a greater advantage over the rest. Therefore, it is a fundamental measure to contemplate in poker strategies.

Keep in mind, however, that it is a value that is volatile and changes as the hands are formed, from preflop to flop to river. For example, a player who has AA preflop can see his chances diminished if someone has unexpectedly formed a straight flush after the flop -although this is a very uncommon situation-.

How to play using poker equity?

Those who are professionally dedicated to poker are clear that to develop a winning strategy in this popular card game it is essential to make decisions with positive Mathematical Expected Value -that is, knowing precisely whether the play you are going to make or are making will be a winner or loser in the long term, being able to change decisions throughout the game to improve your results-. If you add to this an equity advantage over your opponent, it is best to bet on value. These bets are usually made on the river when we consider that we have the best hand. But why?

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If your opponent matches your bet you win in equity. Imagine you have a 70% advantage and you bet €400 in a pot of €800. If your opponent calls you will win 280 euros in pot equity in the long run. The formula would be as follows: (70% of €400 of the opponent’s call).

Situations are very varied in the poker world. Calculating equity during a hand will depend on different scenarios. For example, when you have an OverPair AA against an UnderPair KK in a preflop, in which case we are talking about 81% vs 19%; or when you have an OverPair AA (92%) vs an OverCard Dominated AK (8%). But also when you have an OverCard A5 (31%) vs. low cards (69%). You must keep in mind that in order to maximize the expected value (EV) that we expect to win or lose after making certain decisions at the poker table, as well as to have a balanced strategy, it will not always be convenient to bet when you have a capital advantage in your hand -although this depends on the strategies of each player-.

Calculate poker equity

Nowadays, all online poker rooms offer the possibility of visualizing this parameter as long as you have reached an all in situation -or bet all the chips in your stack in one hand-. However, there are several computer programs that offer the possibility of knowing various situations outside the table or to study the last move made, even in poker hands -although in the latter cases they are less frequent-.

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The percentages are usually calculated with computer programs or applications for the cell phone -it is also often convenient to study common scenarios such as the preflop mentioned in the previous point-. The applications or software run a large number of simulations in order to find out how often each player will win a hand. To do so, it is necessary to enter the hands, as well as the ranks of each player. These percentages also vary depending on the street action (preflop, flop, river…).

Some of the most outstanding programs that we can use to calculate poker equity are PokerCruncher, Equilab, Pokerstove and the calculators designed by some specialized portals.

How to calculate poker equity without software

We have just seen what is poker equity and what are some of the best programs to calculate poker equity. However, you must keep in mind that it is often difficult to make specific calculations while we are in the game, so the player’s guess ends up being one of the best strategies to know what the poker equity is and -over time- can become much more accurate. In this case we can find several mental formulas that we can apply.

One of the best known and most effective is the Rule of 2 and 4. The Rule of 2 and 4 is used to calculate the chances of winning a hand in poker. It is a simple way to obtain an approximation to know if we want to call, raise or fold. To do this, what you have to do is the following:

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1. After the flop has been dealt, the outs are counted. The outs consist of the sum of all the cards that help you to complete your project or hand. That is, the opportunities we have with our hand to beat the opponent.

2. Multiply the outs x2. With this we will know what is the percentage of making our hand in the turn -or fourth community card-.

3. Multiply the outs x4. To know the possibility we have of making our hand on the river.