A Very Big Pot Where Math is Important

I am out in Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker.  I am mainly playing cash games, mostly the $5-$10 no limit game at the RIO and the Bellagio.  Things are going well, and on  the heels of my blog earlier in the week, I was at the table for a very interesting hand.

The kid on my right was very friendly, knew a bunch about the game and was trying to play well.  He probably played ok, but made a massive error that showed some of his inexperience.  The hand goes like this:

There was a raise to $60 and 4 callers and he calls out of the big blind with 88.  There is $300 in the pot and everyone has about $3000 on the table.

The flop comes 8h7h6c.  The kid leads out $300, 3 players call and the small blind shoves for about $3000.  He was not a very good player and would often have the nuts(best possible hand) there, T9 or another straight, but there was also the possibility he was overvaluing something.

If we assume his opponent always has the straight there is $1800 in the pot and it costs him $2700 to call.  He needs to have 37.5% equity to make a call correct, and PokerStove says that he has 35% equity so if he “knows” the guy has the straight, a call costs him about $180.  The kid assumed he always has the straight and folded.

The problem is that his opponent doesn’t always have a straight there, and if he doesn’t our   equity(share of the pot) ranges from 95% to 60%, making a fold horrible.  If another person calls, then a fold is also very bad since he is getting better odds to draw to a full house.

The kid folded and two other players went allin.  Another player had 9h6h and someone had T9, and the original raiser also had T9.  That leaves him with 31% equity in a $12,000 pot where he needed 22% to break even, so it cost him 9% of $12,000 or ~$1000.

The kid and I were talking and he was telling me that he made a good fold and asked if I agreed and I didn’t say anything.  The way the situation unfolded was rare but it was an expensive mistake, and one that showed a need to understand some of the more complicated math of the game.

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