Just because your hand has decent raw equity it doesn’t mean you can claim your rightful share of the pot with it.

Raw equity does not mean it’s easy to win with a small pair

You probably understand what equity is in poker at this stage. It is the percentage of the pot you expect your hand to win, on average, against your opponent’s range, assuming you both get to showdown. 

If you have 50% equity with two over cards against the 50% equity of your opponent with a small pair, all-in preflop, you both can expect to win half the time. 

Knowing your equity is important but some people can overestimate it on its own. This is why a common error some players make is overplaying hands they know have good ‘raw equity’ but that don’t realise equity well. 

What is equity realisation?

Some hands are much easier to play post flop

Equity realisation is how often can you actually accrue your rightful share of the pot based on a number of factors. Your stack size, position, number of opponents, skill, playability and much more influence equity realisation. 

To give a simple example, a small pair. You know that against a lot of Ax hands you will have around 50% equity with pocket 2s, but it is very hard to realise equity with a hand like that, because it is hard to get to showdown. 

If you have 22 and the board is flop is KQT getting to showdown is hard, especially out of position. Even if you still have the best hand your opponent likely has a strong draw that will beat you by the river. Realistically you cannot stand one bet, let alone further bets on the turn and river. This is why small pairs work better for set mining and folding when you miss. 

If you had a hand like A9, however, then you have really good equity realisation. You block strong hands, you have good showdown value, you sometimes have the best hand already, you can hit a monster and you have lots of profitable bluffs. You can actually over realise equity with a hand like this, meaning you will win, on average, more than the raw equity it has against your opponent. 

Lots of thing influence equity realisation including stack size, stack to pot ratio, blockers, playability, range advantage, ICM and skill. 

Related Resources

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