Equity Realization – Playing From The Big Blind

Equity realization is a critical concept often overlooked, especially when it comes to defending the blinds.

Simply calculating pot odds to measure if a call is likely profitable or not, it is like crossing the road while looking straight ahead. You won't see the danger coming down the line (i.e. post flop playability)

Although in poker you won't get hit by the passing cars, your long-term results certainly will take a hit! Let's take a more in-depth look at the importance of equity realization.

So here is what equity realization actually means:

Equity realization refers to the degree in which a hand will be able to claim its calculated equity in a hand matchup. Factors such as position, skill level, and post-flop playability can reduce or increase the likelihood a hand will win its calculated share of the pot or realize equity.

Pot Odds AND Equity Realization

For a long time, poker players would just simply calculate the pots odds when deciding whether to call or not. So let's say you're holding 32s in the big blind, and UTG opens the pot for a 2.5x raise and the action folds around to you.

With blinds of 100-200, it's 300 to call to win 1100 (500+100+500 because you get your money back if you call and win). So that's 0.27, or 27% equity required to make the call. And against a solid early position player opening 14% of hands, we have 30% equity.

equity realization range image
So this should make it an easy call right?


The reason is the equity realization.  In this spot, it's going to be very hard to always get our 30% share of the pot.

There are a few reasons for this as we discuss in the PokerNerve Road to Success Course, but clearly, the biggest factor is being out of position.

The IP player is going to have better visibility with their opponent acting first post-flop. They have the ability to put in an extra bet on any street, or to check-back if the OOP player checks, and overall, have better control over the play of the hand.

The benefits of position!

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So what can we do to combat this equity realization problem out of position?

The first thing we can do is tighten-up. Battling for every pot fiercely with weak hands, especially out of position, is going to cost you a lot of money in the long run. Learn to play the right ranges.

Here's a quick snippet from PokerNerve's course regarding equity realization OOP.

What are the right ranges?

The right ranges are not simply on a chart. Various factors will contribute to your ability to realize equity out of position. The biggest of which, will be your poker skill. If you hold a skill edge over your opponents, naturally you'll be making better decisions in various post-flop scenarios that will come up.

This allows you to more frequently win a bigger share of the pot. Essentially realizing more equity OOP.

Particularly skilled players can defend especially wide from the big blind. Remember every time you fold the big blind you lose it along with any ante you additionally might have had to pay.

So if defending even a marginal hand is going to lose you less than a big blind, you should fight for the pot. The problem comes when players are too ambitious out of the blinds and end-up losing even more than their initial blind investment.

Here's a snippet from PokerNerve's MTT course that discusses the importance of a players ability in equity realization.

How do I know which hands I can profitably play?

Aside from realistic self-assessment, if you play online and you're using a HUD, you can identify your ability reasonably well. Depending on how many hands you've collected, a simple process of filtering your database of hands you've collected will allow you to eyeball your results.

For example, you could filter by some weak off-suit connector type hands from the BB position to see how you're performing. If you are losing more than 100BB per 100 hands (-100BB/100) than you'd be better off just folding these hands.

Don't forget sample size is important, ideally, you'd want a few thousand filtered hands available to reasonably accurately gauge your results.

PokerNerve's module 3 Big Blind Strategy tutorials, go into detail on how to filter your database and develop profitable playing ranges.

When it comes to profitably playing a hand in poker, especially from the blinds, pot odds are only half the story. By understanding equity realization and it's contributing factors, we'll be able to make more profitable decisions.

Skilled players will get to realize a bigger share of the pot than their entitled too, more consistently. Check your database of hands if you have one, to see how you're performing, and adjust your ranges accordingly by either tightening up if you're losing money with certain hands or widening your range if the worst parts of your range you play in a spot are profitable.

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