What do you get in return for your call?
When your opponent makes a bet and you call that bet, you are making an investment. And when you make an investment, you are looking to get a return on that investment. The question is: What do you get in return for your call?
In deep-stack play, the answer is that the total value of the call is derived from a combination of draw equity and float equity.
Draw equity is simply your share of the pot derived from tangible hand value – such as a flush or straight draw, or even a draw to two pair or trips, in some cases – and is a combination of direct and implied equity.
Let’s say, for instance, that we are heads up with position after the flop, there’s $100 in the pot and we have a $2,000 stack. We hold the A K Q 3, and the flop is 8 7 2, giving us the nut-flush draw, for nine possible outs (for illustrative purposes, we will discount any overcard outs; let’s say that our opponent has A-A, but we don’t really know). If our opponent bets $100 (the size of the pot), we must have at least 33 percent equity on the call in order to justify making it, simply because we are putting in one-third of the money.
However, our flush draw gives us only 20 percent direct equity, because we will make the flush only one out of five times (we have nine outs, and there are 45 unknown cards). This yields a return of only $60 on our $100 call (20 percent of the $300 total pot is $60), leaving a $40 (13 percent) gap in expected value between our direct share of the current pot and the break-even value. So, in most cases, we rely on implied odds – the payoff when we hit – to fill the gap. In this case, our opponent must, on average, pay off with a $200 bet ($40 x 5) – or an additional two-thirds pot-sized bet on the turn – when we hit in order to make up for the gap between the 33 percent equity that we need and the 20 percent direct equity that we have.
*Opponent pays off with a $200 bet when we make the flush
For the most part, poker players on the draw thus far have been trained to think almost entirely in terms of pot odds and implied odds. However, the problem with the bare nut-flush draw in pot-limit Omaha is that you often don’t have much implied value if your opponents shut down when the flush card hits. So, our implied equity with the bare nut-flush draw is often closer to 0 percent than 13 percent.
But as we know, tangible hand value is not the only value to be gained from the call, particularly in situations where our opponent figures to be weak (those situations were outlined in my previous columns on “floating”). And under these circumstances, our opponents are far more likely to give up and check-fold on the turn, either because a scare card hit – whether or not it actually helped you – or because they had nothing to begin with.
This value has to be accounted for somehow, which brings us to float equity, the subject of Part II.
This article was originally written by Jeff Hwang. Jeff Hwang is a semiprofessional player and author of Pot-Limit Omaha Poker: The Big Play Strategy. His latest book is Advanced Pot Limit Omaha Vol.1 and will be releasing Vol 2.