Know Your Equity
No one ever won a poker tournament without a dose of luck. Indeed, if you want to take top spot more often you need to indulge in poker practice on poker sites and try new techniques such as to gamble in spots where you know you have decent equity.
To establish your equity at the poker table it’s important to do some post-game analysis. Once you’ve done this enough you’ll begin to have an instinct of when you’re in a good position to call or raise.
The process of establishing your equity can be broken down into 3 parts: 1) your opponent’s likely shoving/calling ranges; 2) the immediate pot odds on offer; 3) your hand’s equity in relation to both previous points.
Let’s consider this process in action: A short stacked player who raises from the cut-off is likely to do so with a wide range of hands. Their range of poker holdings could look something like this:
22+, A2s+, K5s+, Q6s+, J7s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, A2o+, K7o+, Q8o+, J9o+ & T9o.
Continuing the flow of action, the player on the button will certainly loosen up their calling range to reflect cut-off’s wide opening range. Indeed, if their stack is also nearing the 10bb mark they will be likely to gamble in order to get back into the tournament. Because of this a typical range would be:
44+, A2s+, KTs+, QTs+, JTs, A5o+, KJo+ & QJo
Using this information and an equity calculator such as PokerStove, we can see that based on these rough ranges your equity in the hand is 39% when holding pocket eights. In contrast, the button’s equity is 33% and the cut-off’s a lowly 27%. This means calling here is definitely profitable in the long term.
Knowing this dynamic is important because now you can decide whether the pot odds and your equity make a call worthwhile. In this situation you’d need to be getting 3-1 pot odds for a call to be profitable.
In poker you should always have a rough estimate of your equity in a variety of situations. By doing this you’ll win many more tournaments.