What Is Poker Equity & How to Use It in Your Games
If you have been involved in poker in any capacity, you probably heard the term “equity” or “poker equity” quite a few times.
And while the concept itself isn’t complicated once you get the hang of it, it can be challenging to understand if you are new to it.
What is poker equity, and how you can calculate the equity in poker are a couple of main questions that we’ll answer in this article.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know all the poker equity fundamentals and how to apply them at the tables to improve your win rate!
What is Poker Equity?
If you don’t like math, you will probably give your best not to dive into equity in poker. However, you simply can’t be a good or even a decent poker player without understanding the concept of poker equity.
In other words, that decision would end your poker career before it even begins.
Poker is a game that is largely based on math which means that one way or the other, you will have to do some calculations when playing.
With that said, let’s first answer the question: What is equity in poker?
In the game of poker, the term equity refers to the portion of the pot that “belongs” to the player based on the likelihood of them winning the hand with the cards they’re holding.
You can look at it this way: pocket aces are around an 81% favorite against pocket Kings preflop.
So let’s say both you and your opponent go all in preflop, and the pot is $100. You are holding A♠A♦ and your opponent turns over K♥K♣.
In this situation, you are the favorite with an 81% chance of winning the hand and your opponent is the underdog with a 19% chance of getting all the money.
Based on these percentages, which come from the hands you are holding, your fair share of the pot is $81, and your opponent’s share is $19.
This means that even though this pot will almost never be split in a way in which you would receive $81, and your opponent would receive $19, over the long run, you will be winning $81 for every $100 in the pot in this situation.
As you already probably assume, the higher your poker equity, the better your chances of winning the hand.
You should always remember two things about equity in poker:
- Being the favorite doesn’t mean that you will win the hand on that specific occasion (and vice versa)
- Being the favorite means that in that specific situation, over the long run, you will win more money (chips) than you will lose
Poker Equity Charts
There are quite a few ways to approach calculating equity in poker. Some of them are applicable in all situations, and some of them can be used only in specific situations.
Our advice is to learn them all, so you never run out of options.
Memorizing Charts With Common Preflop Scenarios
This is one of the easiest and most basic approaches to learning equity in poker. The only thing you need to do is find an accurate chart with the most common preflop scenarios (we have prepared one for you below) and memorize it.
The main advantage of this approach is once you memorize the chart, you will always have it with you and be free to use it whenever you need it.
The main disadvantage of preflop equity charts is that they will only help you in preflop scenarios, which means that you can’t base your post-flop decisions on them.
|Hand A||Hand A Equity||Hand B||Hand B Equity|
|(Overpair) A♠A♦||81%||(Underpair) K♠K♦||19%|
|(Overpair) A♠A♦||92%||(Dominated overcard) A♥K♣||8%|
|(Overpair) A♠A♦||78%||(Suited connector) J♥10♥||22%|
|(Two overcards) K♠A♦||44%||(Pocket pair) 9♥9♣||56%|
|(Two overcards) K♠A♦||58%||(Suited connector) J♥10♥||42%|
|(Dominating high card) K♠A♦||72% (tie 4%)||(Dominated high card) A♥Q♦||24% (tie 4%)|
|(One overcard) A♠8♥||28%||(Pocket pair) 10♥10♣||72%|
|(One overcard) A♣J♦||60%||(Two lower cards) K♥Q♥||40%|
The main disadvantage of preflop equity charts is that they will only help you in preflop scenarios meaning that you can’t base your post-flop decisions on them.
But don’t worry, we have prepared some of the most common post-flop scenarios in the next section.
Memorizing Charts With Common Post-Flop Scenarios
Together with our previous chart, the chart with the most common post-flop scenarios is one of the best ways to understand and use the equity in poker to your advantage.
The only thing you need to do is memorize it and you will always be able to refer to it in your head.
Of course, you also need to memorize the preflop chart if you want to be a winning player.
|Board||Hand A||Flop Equity||Hand B||Flop Equity|
|10♥5♠3♣||A♠K♠ (Two overcards)||28%||J♦10♠ (Top pair)||72%|
|10♥5♠3♠||A♠K♠ (Two overcards + flush draw)||54%||J♦10♣ (Top Pair)||46%|
|10♥5♠3♣||8♠7♠ (Flush draw)||39%||J♦10♣ (Top Pair)||61%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♠4♠ (Open-ended flush draw)||56%||J♦10♣ (Top Pair)||44%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♦4♠ (Open-ended straight draw)||37%||J♦10♣ (Top Pair)||67%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♠2♠ (Flush draw + inside straight draw)||47%||J♦10♣ (Top Pair)||53%|
|10♥5♠3♠||A♠K♠ (Two overcards + flush draw)||26%||10♦10♣ (Set)||74%|
|10♥5♠3♠||8♠7♠ (Flush draw)||27%||10♦10♣ (Set)||73%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♠4♠ (Open-ended flush draw)||42%||10♦10♣ (Set)||58%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♦4♠ (Open-ended straight draw)||28%||10♦10♣ (Set)||72%|
|10♥5♠3♠||6♠2♠ (Flush draw + inside straight draw)||34%||10♦10♣ (Set)||66%|
|10♠5♠3♠||A♠K♠ (Flush)||66%||10♦10♣ (Set)||34%|
|10♠8♦7♣||J♥9♦ (Straight)||65%||10♦10♣ (Set)||35%|
These charts are pretty convenient and a great way to introduce the concept of equity into your game but you need to have a deeper understanding of how equity is calculated if you want to be a winning player.
How to Calculate Equity in Poker With Poker Software
We mentioned the equity charts before talking about how to calculate the equity in poker on purpose because you can use these charts as a good starting point, and you can refer to them in situations where you are not sure about your calculations.
The most accurate equity calculations in poker are done by poker software called equity calculators.
After getting the necessary inputs regarding the hole cards and the board, this software runs thousands of simulations and uses all of the collected data to output accurate equity results.
For example, if we input the hole cards from the previous example (A♠A♦ and pcn]KhKc[/pcn]) into a poker equity calculator, the software will use the remaining 48 cards in the deck to run all the possible board combinations left and show us the result. (this happens in a matter of milliseconds)
The exact result for these hands would be:
- A♠A♦ will win 81,07% of the time.
- K♥K♣ will win 18,55% of the time.
- The hand will result in a split pot 0.38% of the time.
The Best Way to Calculate Equity in Poker
When it comes to calculating poker equity in real in-game situations, we recommend you use a mixed approach.
For preflop situations, you should definitely memorize the chart containing the equity percentages for the most common preflop scenarios.
For the post-flop equity calculations, we recommend the technique called “The Rule of 2 and 4.” This rule represents a simplified method of calculating outs and odds in poker. It is used by the majority of winning poker players.
The 2 and 4 rule goes like this, if you know how many cards will give you the best hand, you can then multiply the number of these cards by 4 if there are two cards to come or by 2 if there is one card to come to find out your equity in the hand.
It can be hard to realize all the cards that will give you the best hand (for this, you would need to know your opponent’s cards every single time).
Because of this, most players only count cards that would give them the absolute best combination.
For example, let’s say your opponent goes all in on the flop, you have a flush draw, and you think that hitting a flush will almost certainly be enough for you to win the hand.
You should use the rule of 2 and 4 in the following way:
There are 13 cards of each suit in the deck, you are holding 2, and 2 are on the board, which means that there are 9 cards of that suit left in the deck. This is the number of your outs.
Because there are 2 cards left to come, you will multiply the number of your outs (9) by 4. If the same scenario happened on the turn, you would multiply the number of your outs with 2.
- 9 x 4 = 36
You have a 36% chance of hitting one of your outs and winning the hand.
How To Use Poker Equity To Make Better Decisions
So, now that you know your equity in the hand, you might be wondering how you can use it to make a decision, meaning should you call or fold? For this, we need to introduce the term pot odds.
Pot odds represent the ratio between the size of the pot and the size of the bet you are facing.
This is a very important concept that we will combine with poker equity to answer your question.
If the equity of your hand is lower than the pot odds you are getting, you should fold.
Let’s say that there were $100 in the pot when your opponent went all in for an additional $200 and that you have $200 in your stack.
At this point in the hand, there is $300 in the pot, and if you call, the pot will be $500, which means that if you call, you are risking $200 to win $500.
To calculate your pot odds, we will divide the amount you need to call by the amount that will be in the pot when you call.
- 200 / 500 = 0.4
To get convert decimals into percentages, we will multiply the result by 100.
- 0.4 x 100 = 40%
In this situation, your pot odds are 40%.
Because your equity in this spot (36%) is lower than the pot odds you are getting (40%), you will be losing money with a call over the long run.
We hope that we have shown you how important equity is in poker. If you want to be a winning poker player, you need to take some time to fully understand this concept and comprehend how it will help you make better decisions!