What is Pot Equity?

Pot Equity is a concept that is an integral part of winning poker strategy. It is a factor in most of the decisions that you need to make at the poker table. Simply put, the amount of money in the pot, that is considered to be your pot equity, is established by the probability of winning the pot based upon the 2 cards in your hand and the community cards on the board.

You must already know how to count your “Outs”, the number of cards remaining in the deck that would make your hand. Based upon the number of community cards yet to come, you must be able to calculate the probability of making your hand. It is always important to also understand that in some cases making your hand will not be good enough to win you the pot, possibly because an opponent is on a better draw.       

A c A s is an 87.99 % to 11.61 % favorite against 7d 2 c, pre-flop. However if the flop comes out as 7 s 7 h 2 d, the odds radically change making the 7 2 off-suit a 91.41 % favorite. Although this may be an extreme case, it is an example of how your equity in the pot constantly changes.

For practical application, you will need to develop a method of quickly estimating your equity position before each action that you make. Basically you want to get the most money in the pot when you have the best chance of making a winning hand. This is called “getting your money in right”. You do not need to be able to figure out exact percentages, only a fair approximation.

The reason that understanding pot equity is so important is that it helps you make correct decisions when it comes time to check, call, bet, raise, or fold. An experienced poker player will often base their decisions on pot equity, along with a number of other factors. Pot equity is a great barometer that will help you see the relative strength of your hand pre-flop and on every street.

Unless you are being motivated by another strategy factor, such as having a read, slow playing, or just playing position, it is to your advantage to get as much money in the pot when your pot equity is better than 50 %.

Because of mathematical variance, making the right decisions based upon pot equity, will not always win you the pot. However, if you continue to make decisions that keep the odds in your favor, you will be a winning player over time. There are very few casino games where a player can turn the odds to their favor with blackjack and poker being the 2 best. Practicing good bankroll management and the sound mathematical principals of poker strategy will change the game of poker from a game of luck to a game of skill.     

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