Living in Las Vegas, I get to meet a lot of poker players of varying skills. I’m constantly amazed by how many avid poker players do not know their poker hand equities! These are some basic percentages, that compare two starting hands in Texas Hold ‘Em, and should form the basis of a lot of poker decisions, particularly for tournament poker players. These are numbers that you should be able to instantly recall in order to consider yourself a good poker player.
No one should sit down at a poker table without knowing their poker hand equities backwards and forwards. But it happens every day.
Poker Hand Equities Are For Tournament Players (Mostly!)
Poker hand equities are most useful in tournament scenarios. These equities focus on two starting hands in Texas Hold ‘Em. This means that you are most likely to use this in poker tournament and sit-and-go play where you will often find yourself in shove-or-fold scenarios. Understanding these poker hand equities can help you make more informed decisions and potentially improve your poker tournament results. A lot of the GTO and ICM focused play that you hear about (and may already use) are rooted in these numbers. So understanding what the core numbers are can certainly help move your game forward.
Poker hand equities are less effective for cash game players. Good cash game players are rarely looking to shove their entire stack pre-flop or get their money in with thin equity advantages. And once the flop comes, equities change completely. So if you focus on cash games exclusively, then you might find this article less useful. However, do not ignore it completely. If you play in heads-up cash games, knowing these equities can change completely since any two players are likely to miss the flop and the starting hand equities tend to stay more “true” through fifth street. These equities are also useful when you might find yourself in a cash game with a maniac that you want to isolate and, effectively, play heads-up against. So if you play in these cash games, read on!
Poker Hand Equity Scenarios
Most pre-flop showdowns in Texas Hold ‘Em can be classified into the following starting hands
- Overcards vs. 2 undercards: both of your cards dominate your opponent’s cards
- Overcards vs. 2 middle cards: both of your opponent’s cards dominate your lowest card
- Overcards vs. 1 middle card: only one of your opponent’s cards dominate your lowest card
- Pair vs. 2 overcards: your opponent has two live cards against you
- Pair vs. 1 overcard: your opponent has one live card against you
- Pair vs. 2 undercards: your pair dominates both of your opponent’s cards
- Pair vs. 1 undercard: you have one of your opponent’s cards and you dominate the other card
- Overpair vs. underpair: your pair dominates your opponent’s pair
Poker Hand Equities Table
|Description||Hand Examples||Your Equity||Opponent Equity|
|Overcards vs. 2 undercards||AK vs. 56||62%||38%|
|Overcards vs. 2 middle cards||A8 vs. QJ||57%||43%|
|Overcards vs. 1 middle card||AT vs. Q7||65%||35%|
|Pair vs. 2 overcards||55 vs AK||55%||45%|
|Pair vs. 1 overcard||88 vs A2||70%||30%|
|Pair vs. 2 undercards||KK vs. 87||82%||18%|
|Pair vs. 1 undercard||AA vs. AK||93%||7%|
|Overpair vs. underpair||AA vs. 77||81%||19%|
I would strongly suggest that you never sit down at a poker table without being able to recall these numbers in an instant. Not only will you be able to save yourself some money, you should also find opportunities to make money with this. Maybe there are some scenarios where you are not as far behind as you think and you make the proper call instead of a fold. Whatever the case may be, these equities will give you an edge over your opponents and that’s always a good thing.