understanding how to calculate pot equity
Understanding how to calculate pot equity can be a very useful part of poker strategy. Pot equity is a percentage which can be converted into a dollars and cents amount based on the current size of the pot; it tells you how much of the pot "belongs to you" based upon the hand that you currently hold and what stage of the game you're in.
WHY IS CALCULATING POT EQUITY USEFUL?
Understand that pot equity is not pot odds. It's something completely different. Pot odds tell you how likely you are to win a hand based upon your currently held cards and the remaining possible outs. Pot equity tells you when you should fold, call, or raise.
Imagine if you could magically know what your opponent holds (and that you've only got one for now). You punch into your odds calculator software exactly what that hand is pitted against your hand, and it comes back and tells you that you have 72% pot equity. This means that you presently have a 72% chance of winning the pot if both of you stay in to see the river and never fold. If the pot is currently worth $100, your pot equity is $72.
Pot equity calculations are arrived at by running every possible hand in poker thousands and thousands of times through a computer simulation in every conceivable situation to come up with the mathematical odds of winning. And, as you might have guessed, your pot equity can change, and usually does change, with every new street in Hold'em.
Let's say that that starting hand above that have you 72% odds of winning doesn't fare so well on the flop--but your opponent gets great board texture out of it. You run the odds again and find out that your pot equity just tumbled down to a mere 25%. Yet, depending on what card comes up on the turn, you could see your pot equity rocket back up to over 90%.
HOW DO YOU APPLY CALCULATING POT EQUITY?
Well, guess what? You have probably figured out something obvious at this point--you rarely, if ever, know for a fact what your opponents are holding. And, you don't start off any game against only one opponent; you start off against several, and your "actual" pot equity is really the chance you have of winning the pot against every other hand altogether out there at the present moment.
The practical application of pot equity actually comes into play as informed speculation on when, if, and by how much you should check down, call, raise, or fold.
So, to use this percentage calculation to your advantage, you need to have lots of other Texas Hold'em knowledge and techniques at your disposal.
- Understand the relative value of every starting hand
- Know the Top 20 starting hands and how to proceed with playing them
- Know your own list of the 10 best poker starting hands and why you find them to be so strong
- Know how to calculate pot odds and the 4/2 rule
- Know your own poker image and how to project it with high effectiveness, while being able to read other players' images
- Knowing how to read tells
- Understanding table position
- Being acccurate at putting your opponents on a hand.
You can best learn how to incorporate this aspect of the game into your own poker strategy by playing online and using a pot equity calculator. In truth, what it will do is discipline you into thinking in a more mathematical way so that you are paying attention to winning money and not fooling yourself into playing by "feel" or just on emotion.
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