What’s Equity Realization, and Why Does It Matter (In Pot Limit Omaha?)

Jakub Szczotka
14 maj 2024
5 mins read
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Equity realization, a crucial concept in both No-Limit Hold'em and Pot Limit Omaha, is a term that every aspiring poker player must grasp. Understanding when and why you can realize the equity of your hand will help you considerably in navigating various postflop situations in these popular poker variants.

Let’s dive into the basics first - equity is the average share of the pot you’d win if you and your opponent (or opponents) went all in at a certain point in the hand.

For instance, imagine a scenario where you and your opponent decide to go all in before the flop. You're holding double-suited Aces while your opponent's hand is random. In this case, you’re expected to win about 69% of the time, which translates to winning 69% of the pot on average. Of course, that’s not the most common scenario in Pot Limit Omaha, mainly because going all in preflop in PLO is not as simple as in No Limit Hold’em.

One of the best PLO preflop scenarios

The most significant difference is that in NLH, you can go all in at any point in the hand, in which case you will realize all of your hand’s equity (it’s rarely a good idea, though). That’s not true in pot limit games, where your maximum bet size is constrained. As a result, you won’t be able to “force” the showdown by going all in, and you’ll have to navigate the hand post flop.

That’s where the equity realization factor comes into play. Picture a scenario like this: you 3 bet your opponent with double-suited Aces (clubs and spades) from the Big Blind versus the Cutoff. The flop, however, comes monotone with three hearts, leaving you with the bare overpair without any backdoors. You check, and your opponent bets the pot.

Quite often, your hand will be the best one on the flop (meaning it will have more equity than your opponent’s hand), but with two cards to come and very few good outcomes (like hitting runner-runner full house), you’re very unlikely to win the showdown (since your opponent will have a few opportunities to bluff you or check back on the river with mediocre-but-better-than-aces hands).

Therefore, folding is probably the best play since even if your hand has a reasonable equity, you will rarely be able to realize it.

Equity realization relies on a few factors

Position
Being in position is one of the most essential advantages in poker, whatever the circumstances are.

It also helps when it comes to equity realization: whenever you're in a position, you can realize more of your hands’ equity, on average, than your opponent. Being the last person to act is a formidable advantage on every street since you always have more information than your opponent. It’s especially valuable on the river, where the pot is the biggest. If you’re in position, you control whether the hand reaches the showdown, allowing you to value bet and bluff more efficiently.

Stack depths
The shallower the stacks are, the more equity they can realize.

If you end up on the flop with a stack-to-pot-ratio equal to one (meaning that, for example, the pot equals 66 BB and you or your opponent’s stack is also 66BB), realizing the equity of your hand will be easy since you can go all in on the flop by yourself, call your opponent’s all in or check-raise if they use a smaller bet.

You only have to figure out whether you can bluff your opponent or have enough equity to stack off in case you assume your opponent won’t fold.

Let’s use a common PLO situation as an example.

Both you and your opponent start the hand with roughly 100 BB, you 4bet preflop with Aces, and your opponent calls. The pot on the flop is about 70BB, and you have approximately the same amount of BBs left behind, resulting in an SPR of around 1. To profitably go all-in on such SPR (assuming your opponent always calls), you require your hand to have 33%+ equity.

With some practice, you’ll be able to estimate on which boards your Aces are good enough to continue. Luckily, shoving them without much thought will rarely be a blunder on such a low SPR. No matter how much equity your Aces will have at a particular flop, they will realize all of it since you will either win when your opponent folds or you'll see both turn and river.

Things get much more complicated on deeper stacks. If we change the stack depths to values you’ll often see in deep live games and assume both players started the hand with around 500 BB, the SPR on the flop will equal around 7 (to get the exact value, you have to divide the pot size by the lower stack).

With such stack depths, the out-of-position player will have tough times on many boards; therefore, they will often be unable to realize the equity of their hands.

The lower the SPR is, the easier it is to realize your equity

In PLO (and NLH to some degree), we can distinguish a few recurring scenarios with a particular SPR and the resulting equity you need to continue (assuming a heads-up pot). It’s a good mental exercise to connect specific situations with a most common SPR and required stack-off equity, as it will help you evaluate your plan in these situations.

The most common scenarios

Skill discrepancy

If your opponent has no idea what they are doing, you will be able to realize more equity than you “should”. Quite often, less experienced players make decisions based on the hand they have at the exact moment instead of thinking in terms of ranges and resulting advantages and disadvantages.

Understanding whose range has an advantage on which board is a great way to improve as a player, and PLO Genius is the best tool for this if you want to improve your PLO proficiency.

Let's refer to the earlier example. If you play against an unskilled opponent who won’t exert any pressure without very strong hands, even with a positional advantage, and when both of you are deep, playing Aces on unfavored boards won’t be as hard as it should be, allowing you to realize more equity than you would against a skilled opponent.

At the same time, if you’re aware of the leaks of your opponents (like overfolding to bet after skipping continuation bet), you will be able to exploit their tendencies and deny the equity of their holdings.

Mastering the concept of equity realization will make your life easier

Knowing the factors influencing which player will realize their equity more effectively will help you strategize correctly and avoid many unnecessary tough spots. Hopefully, we’ve introduced you to this concept and made it easier to understand.

With the help of PLO Genius, you can determine which categories of hand perform best in particular circumstances; moreover, by joining our Discord server, you'll find other PLO players striving to improve.