How To Calculate Equity in Poker
All You Need to Know about Online Poker Equity
Whether playing poker online or at a casino, knowing how to calculate equity in poker will give you a huge edge when it comes to making decisions at the tables.
Pot equity is worked out using simple math to calculate the chances of winning in a showdown, while fold equity enables players to work out the likelihood of causing an opponent to fold.
Our extensive guide and poker equity calculator chart below explain everything you need to know about equity and how to use it to your advantage.
What Is Equity in Poker?
Pot equity in poker is the share of the pot that is ‘yours’ based on the odds that you will win the pot at that point in play. Equity changes after each street – preflop, flop, turn and river – whenever your odds of winning the pot change.
The strategy around poker equity is pretty simple: you should generally bet when you feel you have more equity in the pot than your opponent (i.e. you have the better hand), for a couple of reasons:
- Betting will induce players with weaker holdings to fold, winning you the pot.
- If your opponent calls it grows the pot, making your equity worth more.
This assumes, of course, you have read your opponent correctly!
Look at it like this.
Let's say you are a 70 percent favorite to win after the flop and you bet 1,000. Your opponent calls. The total amount put into the pot during this round is 2,000. Your 70 percent equity amounts to 1,400 chips, so you have increased your equity 400 chips by betting 1,000.
Poker Equity Charts
Being able to calculate equity quickly in any situation is one of the most helpful skills a poker player can have. Familiarize yourself with the chart below for common preflop scenarios.
Common Scenarios Preflop
Vs Hand #2
Dominated Overcard (AK)
Unsuited Undercard Connectors (87o)
Suited Undercard Connectors (87s)
Two overcards (AK)
Two undercards (75o)
Two overcards (AK)
Lower pair (88)
One overcard (A5)
Middle cards (87)
One overcard (A5)
Lower pair (88)
One overcard (A5)
Undominated pair (55)
One overcard (AQ)
Sandwiched lower cards (KJ)
Dominating higher card (AK)
Dominated higher card (AJ)
Dominating lower card (A5)
Dominated lower card (65)
Equity When Behind
In general, the player with more equity is usually ahead in the hand. There are times, however, when you may be behind and still have more equity.
Take this example.
Three players go to the flop, with 1500 chips in the pot. You are last to act and have 10s-9s. Player 1 has Ah-8h and player 2 has Qc-Qd.
The flop comes up 8s-7h-2s. If you stopped the hand right then, you would lose to both players. Player 1 has a pair of eights (not to mention a backdoor nut flush draw) and Player 2 has a pair of queens.
Your combined open-ended straight draw and flush draw actually gives you more equity than your opponents. At this point, you are a 55% favorite to win the hand. Player 2 is at 28% and Player 1 is at 17%.
Equity would dictate that you bet. Let's say you are in position and both players check. You only have a 10-high at this point and figure to be behind both players, but your potential to improve is so good that it makes sense to try a semi-bluff, so you put out a bet of 2,000, and both players call.
In terms of equity, you gained 55% of the 6,000 chips that went in the pot, or 3,300 chips – almost twice what you bet.
Let's say the turn is a brick for all three players – a nothing card like the 3 of diamonds. Your equity – the chance you will win the hand – has dropped to 36 percent. Player 1, with the pocket queens, is now at 55%, and Player 2 is at 9 percent.
Let's say Player 1 leads out with a bet of 9,000, into a pot of 7,500, and Player 2 folds. What do you do? Equity dictates you fold, because now you are a 2 to 1 underdog to win the hand, and with having to pay 9,000 to win 16,500, the pot is not offering you 2 to 1 odds.
But there are other factors that could lead you to make the call. How big is your stack? If you're in a tournament, how close are you to the money, or to the final table? If you fold, how many chips will you have left?
Making equity calculations on the fly can take some getting used to. Using a hand converter to review hands you've played is a great way to see your equity at different stages of certain hands, and to build experience and good instincts when it comes to making those trickier mental calculations.
Convert your hand history so you can review it, share it and replay your hand in video format.
A Guide to Fold Equity
Fold equity in poker is quite simply a way of talking about how often your opponent will fold when you bet. Every bet in poker has a perceived amount of fold equity based on how often your opponent will fold, so the profitability of any bet is made up by your perceived fold equity combined with your pot equity.
The more fold equity you have the less pot equity you need for your bet to be profitable. Inversely, the more pot equity you have the less fold equity you need. The reason why semi bluffing in poker is profitable is because you capitalize on your fold equity and combine it with your pot equity.
One key way to quantify how much fold equity you have is by looking at and understanding your opponents poker statistics (assuming you are using some form of HUD software). Remember, when using any stats for making a decision in poker, make sure you have a large enough sample of hands.
- The profitability of a preflop steal from late position can be figured out by looking at your opponent’s defend rate from the blinds. Or even simpler, by looking at their VPIP/PFR and ‘3-bet percentage’ you can get a basic idea of how often your opponent will fold, call or raise your steal.
- The profitability of a preflop 3-bet and 4-bet can be estimated by looking at your opponent’s ‘fold to 3-bet/4-bet’ percentage from that position.
- For the profitability of a continuation bet look at your opponent's ‘fold to continuation bet’ percentage.
- The profitability of your double barrel/triple barrel bluffs can be worked out using your opponent’s ‘fold to turn/river bet’ percentage.
Your own statistics and image also affect your fold equity. Remember, the looser you play the more action you are likely to receive from your opponents and the less fold equity you’ll have overall.
Conclusion: Another Weapon in Your Arsenal
Equity is not a hard and fast concept. Unless your opponent has shown you their cards and you have a pot odds calculator at your disposal, you’ll never really know your equity for sure in any given situation. Plus, you certainly can't predict what your equity will be after the turn and river. Still, understanding the concept and how to apply it can improve your game.
Knowing your equity in poker relies greatly on the ability to accurately put your opponents on a hand. As you get better at reading your opponents, the accuracy of your equity analysis will also get better.
Strict adherents to equity would say you should bet every time you believe you have more equity, as you will win more often than you lose. But equity is an inexact science and should just be one factor in the equation when deciding whether or not to bet, fold or call.
Understanding equity helps you identify situations where you are ahead, behind or somewhere in the middle, enabling you to make the best betting decisions possible.
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