How to Calculate Pot Odds and Equity: Equity

Pocket Jacks

As we mentioned in part one, the ability to calculate pot odds will only get you halfway to where you need to be. Once you have the odds, you need to calculate your equity in the pot, and then compare the two.

The previous article explained how to calculate pot odds in your head at the table. This next concept, though every bit as important, is much easier to master, thanks to some simple shortcuts.

Hand Equity

Count Your Outs: In order to calculate your equity (your odds of winning the pot), you need to first know how many outs you have to make your hand. This becomes quick and simple with a little practice and a little memorization.

Remember: There are four cards of every value, and 13 of every suit.

If you have an open-ended straight draw, there are two different values of cards that will give you your hand: 2*4= 8 outs. If you have a flush draw there are 13 cards of that suit. You hold two of them, and two of them are on the board: 13 - 2 - 2 = 9 outs.

Remember to remove the outs of cards you know (on the board and in your hand), and to not count outs twice (for example, if you have an open-ended straight flush draw, you have 15 outs).

When counting your outs, you need to remember the idea of anti-outs (and possibly even blockers). If by making your straight you also complete the flush of your opponent, then those straight cards are not outs to your hand, and cannot be counted as such.

The possibility of a flush draw on the board can turn a profitable eight-out straight draw into a six-out straight draw, rendering your odds insufficient.


Barry Greenstein
The stronger a read you get, the more accurate your equity calculations can become.

To learn more about anti-outs and blockers, check out this article.

If you're unable to make an astute deduction of the value of your opponent's hands, err on the side of caution and always assume that they have the hand most dangerous to your own.

If there's a flush draw, assume they have the draw; if the board is paired, assume they have a full house or, if you're lucky, just trips. It's less expensive to wrongly fold a hand than to wrongly call off your whole stack.

Equity Shortcut: The easiest way to get your equity is to remember this simple rule:

On the flop, multiply your outs by four.

On the turn, multiply your outs by two.

This means with an open-ended straight draw (eight outs) you have a 32% chance of making your straight with two cards left to come.

For hands on the flop with a large number of outs (>8), the previous shortcut gives a slightly incorrect answer. There's a simple formula you can remember to get a slightly more accurate figure:

(number of outs * 4) - (number of outs - 8) = Equity

This means the equity of an open-ended straight flush draw (15 outs) would be:

(15 * 4) - (15 - 8) = 53%

Without this little formula, the percentage would be higher by seven points, giving us an artificially large result. If your equity calculations are wrong, you will be unable to make informed decisions on the day.


Mike Matusow
Matusow's notorious for his real results not reflecting his equity in any way.

Putting the Two Together

Now that we know the equity and are capable of calculating the odds, how can we tell if it's a good call or not? In the previous article, we got our odds as a ratio (the final example ended with the cut-off being offered 2.3-1 odds, and after the cut-off called the button was offered 3.3-1).

It's impossible to compare apples to oranges, so we need to convert our equity percentage from a percent into a ratio. Doing that will require some of the same techniques described in the previous article:

32% is most easily described as having 32 out of the total 100. 100 - 32 = 68. Since you're looking for your odds, and not the odds of your opponents, your ratio is 68-32. Use the techniques from the previous article and you'll get yourself a final ratio of 2.1-1.

This means your odds of winning the pot are 2.1-1 against. For you to make money, you need to have pot odds higher than that ratio. If you're sitting with your open-ended straight draw (32% or 2.1-1), your odds example from the previous article gave the cut-off odds of 2.3-1, meaning the cut-off would have just enough pot odds to make this call.

If you put yourself on the button with your open-ended straight draw, and the cut-off calls, your odds become 3.3-1. You only needed 2.1-1 to make money, so the call has become very profitable in the long term.

Although this result is correct, it's only half of the odds spectrum you will want to take into play, as you haven't taken any consideration of the implied odds.

Implied odds change the game of No-Limit Hold'em greatly. In fact, having a very large amount of implied odds can render a call correct, even though pot odds would render it absolutely incorrect.

To learn more about implied odds, and how they can affect the choices of you and your opponents, check out this article here.

(For another method of calculating your equity in a pot - one you may find easier - you can check out this article.)

As you can see, equity and pot odds hang on a bunch of relatively simple calculations. All that they require is some memorization of the formulas and techniques, and a little bit of practice calculating them in your head. For some people this will be much easier than for others, but everyone can do it if they spend a small amount of time practicing.

More articles about odds:

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Sean Lind 2010-02-08 20:53:46


I'd recommend you read the "how not to suck at poker" series. This one explains how to count your outs.

Wth 2010-02-06 07:21:44

What the hell is equity... and what the hell is an out?


Sean Lind 2010-01-28 20:09:22


This isn't really going to be the answer you want to hear, but here you go:

When you make a bet too large to give sufficient odds to a player on a draw, and they call anyways, that's good. Even though it means you lose A LOT, you make money in the long-run.

But, you have to make sure you don't pay out the value bets of players when they do his their flush or straight. If you lose money after the player has already made the hand, then you're the one making the mistake, and they were correct in calling (assuming they knew you would pay them out if they hit).

Dan 2010-01-28 14:38:00

Cheers!im really finding your articles this stuff usefull, the only problem im having is when playing low stakes online, lets say the flop comes 10h kh 4d and i hit 2pair with 10s ks, and its checked round to me but its possible other players could be on flush draw so i try to price them out,
in theory the only people who will call is people with trips or also 2pair or even aces,
but i find some people will still call with flush draw probably because they they dont understand the concept of pot odds and equity so trying to price people out only works with people who know what they are doing!

Sean Lind 2010-01-26 19:55:59


You are correct that your equity is 53% with a 15-outer. Anytime your equity is more than 50%, you will ALWAYS have pot odds to call, no matter what the bet.

If your heads up opponent moves all in, you're getting 1:1 on your money for the all in, plus all the money already in the pot, so you're getting more than 1:1 on your money with > 50% odds.

So yes, with a 15 outer, the only mistake you can make is folding.

One thing to note, that formula gives you your equity for seeing both the turn and the river. you're only around 30% to hit your hand on just one card. but since you're 53% to hit by the river, it doesn't really matter when you look at the hand as a whole.

Just to be safe, you should be looking to win the pot, or get it all in on the flop. either you get it all in good, or you win the pot with 0 risk.

Dan 2010-01-26 12:37:56

sorry thats supposed to say open ended straight flush draw

Dan 2010-01-26 12:36:57

hi im a beginner poker player and its a great article, so if i have an open ended straight draw (15 outs) that makes it 53% in my favour which would be odds of 0.7-1 ( i think im right)

so lets say there is 2 of us in the pot to make it simple, no matter what bet my opponent makes (assuming he is to act first) the pot odds will be greater that the card equity, even if he pushes all in the pot odds will be greater than 0.7 - 1. is this correct?

Sean Lind 2009-12-17 19:10:26


They're actually both correct, depending on the situation.

(10 * 4) - (10 - 8) = 38%. 62/38 = 1.6-1

This is your odds for making your hand by the river (on either the turn, or the river)

While the other method

37/10 or 3.7-1 are the odds of you making your hand on the turn specifically.

So if someone goes all in on the flop, you want to use the (X * 4) - (X - 8) formula, while if someone makes a bet on the flop with 400bb behind, you want to use the other formula, since you might have to call a huge bet to see a river.

Wayne 2009-12-17 02:29:43

in the artical "calculating-pot-odds-a-beginners-guide" a 10 out on the flop is a 3.7-1. using this formula, (10 * 4) - (10 - 8) = 38%. 62/38 = 1.6-1. 3.7 vs 1.6 is a big difference. one of these methods has to be wrong. which one is correct?

Ryan McManigal 2009-03-25 03:23:00

I'm confused about one thing though. The odds sound great with 2-1 against you and getting paid 3-1. But if you flopped the open ended straight draw, then you only have 16% of hitting on the turn.

This calculation assumes you get to see the river for free as if the other players were all in. But if they aren't all in and have large stacks, then it's 4.5 - 1 against you on the turn. What if you miss on the turn and have to pay another big bet on the river? I guess this is where implied odds come in.

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