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Pot Equity

Pot equity is another mathematical poker concept which in sort dictates what your next move should be. In short, pot equity is the percentage at any given moment that you have of winning the hand and hence the percentage of the pot that is in theory "yours".

Let's go back to our pocket aces versus pocket sixes example:

This time you're the one holding:

And your opponent:

For this example, let's say that you two are the only ones left in the hand and the flop is about to come. There's $100 in the pot. You, with your pocket AA, have about 80% chance of winning the hand. Consequently, $80 out of the $100 in the pot belongs to you. So, right now, for every $1 you put in the pot, you'll be winning $0.80 of it. For your opponent, for every $1 he puts in, he'll win $0.20 of it or rather loose $0.80 of it. So at this point, you obviously want to be putting money in the pot (and getting your opponent to put money in), because your pot equity is high. The money going in the pot has a high probability (80%) of coming back to you.

Obviously, these numbers will change as we move forward in the hand and community cards are shown. If the flop comes:

Your opponent has now made an open-ended straight draw. At the moment, using a poker odds calculator, you'd find out that you have about 60% chance of winning the hand. So your pot equity just went down to 60% of the $100 pot, so $60. You still have an advantage though, but your pot equity is not as high.

How to use pot equity

Now, when you're playing, unless your opponent flashes his cards, you won't know what he's holding and you won't be able to exactly compute your pot equity. However, it should be use as a guide to let you know when you should raise. For example, if you hold AA preflop, you know that your pot equity is high and you should be looking to get money in the pot. Another example is if you have a flush on the turn, but you suspect that your opponent has a four card nut flush draw (you're sure he's holding Ace-rag); at this moment, even though there's a chance (about 15%) that he will outdraw you on the river, your pot equity is still high (about 85% of the pot) and you should be looking to raise and get him to pot money in the pot.

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