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Developing a Feel for Equities in No-Limit Hold’em Part 6: Meaningful Practice

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been looking at a number of different ideas and concepts that have the overall goal of helping players to learn how to build up a better feel for equity in different spots. Here we’re going to finish off this series by looking at how you can use this information to practice and get better at this on your own. Looking at all of the theory and concepts in the world can’t replace practice when it comes to this particular idea.

Walking Through a Simple Example

These days, there are programs that can walk you through what your equity looked like at different stages of a hand against an opponent’s range that you pick out. That can make your life a little easier since it’s makes your practice more efficient. Because programs like that are available, I’m not going to spend a ton of time with complicated examples that involve huge, difficult-to-understand ranges. Instead, I’m going to use a 3-betting scenario with fairly limited ranges and look at what happens over a few streets. The idea here is not as much to use this hand as an instructive example as it is to use it as an example of the things that you should be looking for when you study.

A Late Position 3-Bet Example

Hero open raises from middle position and a tight/aggressive opponent 3-bets from late position. We have a note that this opponent likes 3-betting in position with small aces, both suited and offsuit. This gives our opponent a somewhat balanced range before the flop that probably looks something like {AK, AA-QQ, A6-A2} which is about 8.6 percent of starting hands. We decide to call with QQ. Whether or not that’s a good idea is up for discussion, but that’s the action we’re going to take for our example hand.

You should start out here by trying to estimate what you think your equity will be before the flop after Hero calls. As it turns out, we have an equity advantage of 62/38. You should try to make these estimations at each point in the hand where your opponent’s range chances as a part of your practice.

The flop comes K94 rainbow. If we think about how this flop affected our opponent’s range, we’ll see that a lot of those Ax hands completely missed with only A4 catching a small pair. On the other hand, AK picked up top pair, and our QQ is going to be drawing to two outs to catch up. We’re still behind AA and KK, and we still tie with QQ. At this point, you should try to estimate what your equity looks like, and you should compare it to what your equity looked like before as well. We have reason to believe that we probably gained a little bit of equity since there are many more hands in A6-A2 than there are of AK, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our equity advantage here is about 68/32.

Even though we have a sizable equity advantage, our opponent probably folds almost all of the hands we beat if we bet, so it’s hard to justify a value bet. We check, and our opponent makes a continuation bet. This particular opponent is pretty aggressive, and this is a pretty decent board for him to continuation bet on given the pre-flop action, so we can probably guess that he will be continuation betting a good portion of his air and all of his hands that make top pair or better. It’s hard for him to value bet QQ here, and without knowing more about him, it’s hard to see him slowplaying any strong hands.

Let’s say that he checks A4 and A3 to make him continuation bet bluff with A6-A5 and A2 for the sake of argument since we don’t expect him to bluff 100 percent of his missed aces. This will make his betting range {KK+, AK, A6-A5, A2} against our QQ on K94 rainbow. Now let’s think about how our equity has changed compared to when we initially checked. Some of the hands that we beat have been taken out of our opponent’s range, and no hands that beat us have been removed. That means we have lost a little bit of equity, so it makes sense when you see that we’re down to having a 62/38 advantage. If you’re surprised that we’re still ahead, then remember that a ton of our opponent’s range is missed Ax hands even after we’ve removed A4 and A3.

The Critical Points

There are a few critical points that you should look at while practicing on hands in this format. First, you should go through the hand step-by-step evaluating what you think your opponent’s range looks like and estimating your own equity against that range before you look it up in an equity calculator. Second, deal with reasonable ranges as much as possible when doing these exercises, and don’t get too caught up on whether individual hands are in the guy’s range. Remember that the point of this particular exercise is to work on equity estimations instead of trying to work on figuring out how opponents play.

With that having been said, you’ll obviously get a lot of benefit from sharing your thoughts with others on hands like this. The point is of it is to share your analysis so that other players can comment on your thought process instead of just looking at the final range that you come up with. If you practice like this on a regular basis, then you will get better at a fairly quick rate.

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