Strategy Series

Calling When The Pot Odds Are Favourable


One common mistake that you see players make – especially in the lower limit heads-up hyper-turbo tournaments – is folding to bet when they have odds to call with almost every possible hand.

In general, you don’t have to be a math geek to succeed in heads-up hypers. Most of the spots are easy to calculate because there are not many chips in the play and the blinds are always relatively big. However, there are a few spots where you have to know how to calculate the pot odds.

Example: The blinds were $20/40 and we have $879 and T3o on the big blind. The small blind shoves $121 from the button, which is somewhat precisely 3 blinds. What should we do in this spot? We have one of the worst hands in heads-up no-limit hold’em. Our hand has 40% of equity against a random hand as we can see from the hand equity chart.

To solve this problem we can use two different tools. First is the Nash Equilibrium chart which tells us that we should call the shove profitably if we have 4,8 big blinds or less. We have a lot more blinds, so should we fold? No, we should first calculate the odds of calling.

The villain shoves $121, and we have already put the big blind of $40 on to the table. Therefore, we have to put $81 more to call our villain’s all-in. The equation goes like this: our call ($81) + money already in the pot ($121) divided with the call ($81).

To calculate pot odds, you simply divide the amount of money you have to put in to make the call by the total size of the pot.

$81/$212 = 0,382 * 100 = 38,2%. So the pot odds are 38,2%, which means that we need to have 38,2% equity against villains range. In this kind of situation, we can imagine that villain is shoving almost every hand combo from the small blind. Therefore, we can use the hand equity chart to estimate what is our hand’s equity. We have 40% raw equity against random hand and therefore we should call this shove every time.

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