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ISF – Beginners Guide To Equity and Fold Equity

There has been a request for a beginners guide to equity so that’s going to be the article for this week.

Equity is our mathematical chance of our hand or hand range winning the hand against our opponents hand or hand range. For example, the hand AA has 80% equity against TT, which has 20% equity against AA. This is the same way with hand ranges. AA has 83% equity against a range of AK, TT+. Sometimes, we want to analyze how well we played a hand based on what we could have in a certain spot and based on what we feel our opponent likely has. For example, a range of AK, TT+ has 63% equity against a range of JJ-88, AJ+. Also, just like AK has 50% equity against AK, a range of TT+, AK has 50% equity against a range of TT+, AK.

On the river equity, becomes a lot different. Since there is no longer any possibility of being drawn out on, your equity depends more on the girth of your range, in other words, the amount of hands in your opponents range. For example, on a board of 248JK, no flushes, if you decide to bet a hand like JT, and your opponent has a calling range of 89,8T,J9,99,TT,QJ+, QQ, and KT, then we have close to 50% equity against his calling range, as we are beating about half his calling range and losing to the other half.

Equity exists on the most fundamental level of poker. Nothing actually changes in a poker game besides equity. For example, our opponent raises preflop with 27o. All that happened was he changed his equity against his opponents ranges. Our opponent decides to check the turn with AA and bet the river instead of bet the turn with AA, all he did was change his range on his turn bet and add to the equity of his range when he checks the turn and bets the river. When we can maximize our equity, we will make lots and lots of money.

Now an interesting effect happens when we or our opponent folds our hand. When we fold, we no longer have equity to win the hand. This is huge given the fact that even when we are way behind, such as our bottom pair versus top pair on the flop, we still have about a 20% chance to win the hand, or 20% equity against that hand. So getting our opponents to fold, and therefore getting our opponents to relinquish their equity, can be very +EV. That is why there is what we call Fold Equity. Fold Equity is the value of getting our opponent to fold given there is money in the pot.

In a vacuum, if there is exactly X amount of money in the pot, and we have a hand that will never win (unlikely), and we bet X, we will have to have our opponents fold 50% of the time for that to be a break even play. (Note: There are too many factors to properly calculate this situation with very good accuracy. Other factors include our own equity, how much our bet with air will influence the amount other hands in our range will win, etc. But also note that the factors I named all lessen the amount of time our opponent has to fold to make our bet a good play)

Hopefully, now that you understand Equity and Fold Equity better, you can understand the rest of my articles better!

I regret to inform you all that this is my last article for FTR. I just hit $100,000 in career poker earnings, I’m starting my own business, and traveling a lot so I no longer have the time. I feel like the articles I wrote are some of the best on the net. And you get them for free, so try not to take them for granted!

Hope you enjoyed my writing!

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