Understanding Odds and Equity in Texas Hold’em

Poker is a game of odds. Keeping track of your odds and equity on every street of a Holdem hand is the only way to ensure that you have the right odds to continue in the hand.

You can start calculating you equity by counting the number of outs you have. An out is any card that might come that would give you the best hand. For example, if you have four spades and the next spade will give you the nut flush, you know there are 9 spades left in the deck. The chance that an out will come on the next card is equal to the number of outs you have times two. Therefore, a flush draw will come in 18% of the time on the turn and 18% of the time on the river. Your equity in the hand is 36% if you can be sure that you will see both cards, so you can put in up to 36% of the total value of the pot. If the pot is 1,000 and your opponent goes all-in for 1,000, you are putting in 33% of the total pot (1,000 into 3,000) and, since he is all in, you can call his bet knowing you will see both cards.

If you are sure your outs are all good, because you are drawing to the nuts, then you can count the outs as full outs. If some of your outs may not give you the best hand, for instance, drawing to two pair when your opponent may have a straight, sometimes you need far better odds to continue playing. Consider whether or not your outs are certain to be good before making close calls.

Skills to Forget when Playing Live
Here is a short, but poignant, list of skills that online players who play live no longer need.

Obvious skills to forget include:
Using any kind of HUD or live written notes
Calculating your win rate in big blinds per hundred hands

Less obvious might be:
Short-handed play
And several others that we can cover in detail later

This speaks to one fact: online grinders are out of their element at live tables. Lucky for us, our skill difference is so great compared to most live players, even live pros, that we will certainly find success at some game or stake level.

Live play, for the perceptive and intuitive person, is a more natural version of the game. Many online poker players have developed a brand of intuition when on the felt, whether they consider themselves intuitive or not. Being able to reason out an opponents hand, and, when the decision is close, making an intuitive decision, is roughly the same process employed to make decisions at a live table. The main difference is that there is far more information available to the intuitive player, from the opponent’s mannerisms to how his play has changed over the last three hours that he has been at the table. Being able to make these intuitive decisions is far easier live than online, and this can be the source of a significant portion of your win rate.

Regardless, many online players are simply out of their element. If it is your first time playing live, you may not have experienced the extreme rush of adrenaline when you have a monster hand. It is far different from the experience of a strong hand online.Remember to breathe. This is the first skill that online players must learn: self-control. I pursue this end simply. I don’t talk excessively at the table, so I don’t have a facade to maintain when I have a strong hand. If I have made a large bet, 10 big blinds or more, I stop talking and go into a shell. Whether I am betting for value or bluffing, I stare directly at the felt in front of me, refuse to respond to questions, and wait for my opponent to make his decision. Many other players enjoy the cat-and-mouse game that Jamie Gold plays, but if you are unsure about the right way to act after making a large bet, watch Patrik Antonius play a hand. He stonewalls his opponents, and that is good enough for me.

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