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Poor Equity

Poor Equity One of the most common words used to justify actions by poker players who either do or think they have a good understanding of what they are doing is "Equity". And I think it is time someone stood up for this poor used and abused word that is thrown into sentences left right and centre by knowledgeable, but all too often less knowledgeable people. "Equity" is so often the "fall guy" for the pain suffered by people on the occasions when a little knowledge in the wrong hands has proved a dangerous thing for the "poker player" rather than the "contributor".

All too often when one party has their sense of natural justice outrageously trodden on by a clown wearing comedy feet, poor old "equity" gets the blame whether it deserves it or not.

The top young players of today have a ridiculous understanding of pot equity and fold equity, and older players like me often do not even understand what they are talking about even when we actually understand what they mean.

The better players of years ago understood pot odds very well but this is a basic form when it comes to much more advanced pot equity considerations. Most decent players understood fold equity back then, even though there wasn’t a specific cool name to describe it, who wanted to describe it and risk educating those that did not.

It is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks and as Luke Schwartz says "all older players are dogs". I think he is referring to what is now apparently called "first generation poker players" and not the more respected second generation poker players or the super brained third generation players .

I think I will be happy if I can regarded as a "Star Trek Generations" player and just play rather than pass judgment of the technique of others, which I have been too guilty of in the past.

The great young players of today, use pot and fold equity to maximum advantage and are generally very aggressive. When they make over large pot committing bets they either have a good read that their opponent has a hand that they will not fold and that they have beat and are using reverse psychology to extract maximum value or alternatively if they are called then 40% equity is probably at the top of their equity hopes.

If they are not raising or re-raising for value, and they always know what their plan and expectation is, then it is a skilful combined use of pot and fold equity to exert maximum pressure on opponents that often cannot take the heat, which is why they are targeted for punishment.

Because of this they win lots of uncontested pots and get paid more when they actually have a hand (a concept Doyle Brunson was employing before many of their Mums met their Dads)

One of the biggest dangers of the use of pot and fold equity is that you can end up creating the correct pot equity following several plays on the same street, which did not exist at the start of that street.

It may well be a very valid move to check raise with a draw and then when your opponent shoves you have the right equity to call off your remaining stack and it may well be that each move at the time it is made can be regarded as valid. However in the context of the entire street of play if you are effectively getting it all in with say a 9/4 chance of winning and getting odds of reward of only marginally better than evens, surely this is a mistake of some sort.

The very good young players appreciate this and whilst no-one always gets it right, they fully appreciate stack sizes, weigh up opponent tendencies and make these moves regularly but using those additional variables to reduce as far as possible the frequency with which they find themselves in the above spot.

The problem is that most of the rest i.e. the first generation quality players that think they are fourth generation and talk like fifth generation (unless you actually analyse what they say) simply make the moves with no consideration for anything other than the move itself.

When it goes right they played great, when they get it wrong and get lucky they made their own luck and when, as is most often the case, they get it wrong and go out, they were coolered but made the correct play by reference to "Equity"

If you assume the casino has a 5% edge on roulette and I have £1000 in my pocket. If I put £100 on red, then while the ball is spinning is it always +EV to put the other £900 on red given my equity in my initial bet, (it makes my head hurt when I try and think about the mathematics of that)

All in all I think players should stop quoting "equity" to justify their actions and in fact, spend more time considering what the optimal decision should be rather than the optimal way to justify the decision they have already made.

Tue, 7th December 2010

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