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StrategyPoker Basics

Game Analysis (3)


In this article
  • The practical application of game analysis
  • Which dangers lurk behind different game types
  • How you can find the best line with an analysis

In the third part of the series on game analysis, we'll deal with the technical and mathematical backgrounds with major connections and practical application.

Using examples we demonstrate how diverse decisions and assumptions affect hand analysis, what to watch out for and how you can find the best possible way out of any given situation.

Different game types - different dangers

Detailed analysis is the same for every game type. The following steps are taken for each betting round:

  • Defining the starting situation (your own cards, board, pot, bets, number of opponents)
  • Defining the required equity
  • Defining opponent range(s)
  • Calculating the actual equity

Nonetheless there are different things to look out for depending on the game type. You should always be actively thinking and not just relying on the calculated numbers. Here are a few examples for different game types:

Short-stack strategy

In short stack strategy, several problematic situations can arise from a fairly small stack. Here's an example to help make it clearer:


0,05/0,10 No Limit Hold'em (9-handed)

Preflop: Hero is BU with 7h7c
2 folds, MP1 calls $0.10, 2 folds, CO calls $0.10, Hero raises $0.60, SB folds, BB calls $0.50, MP1 calls $0.50, CO calls $0.50

Flop: ($2.45) Jd3s8h (4 players)
BB bet $2.45, 2 fold, Hero...

If we look at this situation and enter the corresponding values into the formula, we get the following picture:

Required equity = 2.45 / (4.80+2.45) * 100 = 33%

The problem here: you don't have $2.45 anymore. Your potential loss and with it the risk at this point comes to $1.40. As you can effectively never play for more than you have yourself, you also can't simply accept the opponent's bet. As you can only be holding $1.40, the amount that can be won can only be up to $3.75 (pot size $2.45 + your maximum value  $1.40).

However, with these values the result of the formula also changes:

Required equity = 1.40 / (3.75 + 1.40) * 100 = 27%

You can win more here in comparison to the risk you're entering into and therefore require a smaller minimum equity.

Big-stack strategy

0.05/0.10 No Limit Hold'em (9-handed)

Stacks & Stats
MP3: $10

Stats: 17/7/3.0 (VPIP/PFR/AF)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 7h7s
4 folds, MP3 raises $0.40, 3 folds, Hero calls $0.30

Flop: ($0.85) 8d5hKh (2 players)
Hero checks, MP3 bets $0.85, Hero...

Your required equity in this case would be about 33%. Depending on the range you define for MP3, you'll come to an equity of between 20% and 30%.

In cases like this it may be worth taking a look at the implied pot odds. If, for example, you hit a set as the hand continues, would you be able to still make your opponent dig deep enough into his pockets?

With the implied odds, it behaves similar to the range definition. You're on your own and need to try to make an assumption that is as close as possible to the reality. Here once again there are no clearly defined rules.

You should bear in mind that you need to use implied pot odds sparingly. They can influence tight decisions, both positively and negatively.

Mid-stack strategy

In mid-stack strategy, the two dangers just mentioned are more pronounced. It's highly possible that you'll be confronted with a bet which is larger than your remaining stack. On the other hand, it's also possible that you can calculate implied pot odds for yourself, if you still call an opponent's bet. The medium stack size generally gives you a convenient buffer, at least on the flop, which allows you to earn money, if you use it well.

Fixed Limit

In Fixed Limit you're confronted with a completely different situation. As a result of the game rules, the pot odds and with them the required equity, are generally very good. Your main problem here: you have to hit the opponent's range exactly. Even little errors in judgement can have dramatic effects.

Here, you need to try and put yourself in your opponent's shoes. What hands does he play in this way on the day? Does he only play Monster like this or is it also sometimes a bluff? If so, does he do it often enough to warrant taking it into account, or can this variant be ignored?

As you can see, you need to think. Simply assuming this can go terribly wrong.

Finding the best line

If you've read the analysis article, paid attention and understood, you already know that an important point should be determining the best behaviour.

Of course, you can simply concentrate on confirming your own actions, however now and again it's worth thinking on a bit more, in order to possibly make better decisions in similar situations in the future.

Here too, the concepts of equity and required equity play a decisive role. Put simply, you should have the following aim: 

  • Put as much in the pot as your opponent(s) equity range(s).

What does this sentence mean? Here's a little example:


0,05/0,10 No Limit Hold'em (9-handed)

Stacks & Stats
MP2 17/5/4.0 (VPIP/PFR/AF)
BU 20/4/2.0 (VPIP/PFR/AF)

Preflop: Hero is BB with 6c9d
3 folds, MP2 calls $0.10, 2 folds, BU calls $0.10, SB folds, Hero checks

Flop: ($0.35) 3d9h8h (3 players)
Hero checks, MP2 bets $0.20, BU calls $0.20, Hero...

The first step is to calculate the required equity.

Risk: $0.20
Potential profit: $0.75

Required equity = 0.20/(0.75+0.20) * 100 = 21%

Let's continue with equity calculation. First of all, the opponents' ranges are defined.

Using the stats you can determine relatively well what ranges your opponents may have on the flop.

As MP2 has a relatively high AF, this bet shouldn't upset you too much either. It could just as easily be a distraction manouvre, to force you and BU out of the hand.

BU called, so he won't necessarily be holding total rubbish. However, a really strong hand would probably have made itself known with a raise.

If you assume a more or less standard range, you might get the following picture:

Your required equity at the moment is smaller than the actual calculation, so you can definitely call a bet. However, we also want to devote some time to alternatives here.


Simply folding the hand is out of the question, your equity is just too good for this. However, if you have an indication that MP2 is holding quite a strong hand and you adjust the range accordingly, it may be better for you to fold.

Given the assumptions and calculation above, folding should no longer be an acceptable alternative.


Can you raise here yourself? Theoretically, yes, the corresponding button is here and you can place a bet any time. Whether it makes sense or not is another matter.

To calculate the situation if there is a raise, you need to amend the values. First of all you need to determine how big the raise will be. For this, you need to assume that you are playing with the idea of raising to $0.80. This results in the following values:

Risk: $0.80
Potential profit: $0.70

Required equity = 0.80/(0.70+0.80) * 100 = 53%

At a first glance, the value looks scarily high. Your equity will only rarely reach the required limit as an exception, but it doesn't need to. The important characteristic here is fold equity.

Generally speaking, you're not playing against the entire opponent range. Opponents will probably separate themselves from some hands if you raise. Precisely this is expressed by the fold equity.

Look at MP2's range:

This range represents roughly 17% of all possible starting hand combinations.

Which included hands continue to be playable for a half-way decent player, which aren't worth anything anymore and would fold?

If you assume that MP2 is a decent player, you can drastically limit his range by keeping only hits (top pair + top kicker) and potential strong draws (OESD/flush draw).


This range only represents about 4% of all possible starting hand combinations. Conversely, this means that MP2 will about three quarters of his range.

You've got additional equity of around 40% against the remaining hands. Calculated together, it shouldn't be a problem to raise here. Of course, this is under the condition that the assumed raises are correct and opponents can also fold their hands.

Unfortunately, there's still a second opponent. So calculating against MP2 alone is nice but more or less useless.

If you assess BU similarly and assume that this player too will only play on with good hands, you'll get to an equity of barely 21.5%. However, as both players want to leave the hand relatively often, the option to raise yourself is probably not such a bad one.

Your own bet right on the flop:

One further possible option would be to place a bet directly on the flop. Here too, the same applies as for the raise:

The risk and potential gain are put into the formula as appropriate and the required equity is calculated. Here as before, fold equity must be sufficiently considered. You won't necessarily win here with the best hand either, but you can also pocket the money through your opponents efforts.


You've learned which dangers can lurk behind the different game types. If you bear these in mind, you can prevent erroneous interpretations and carry out more precise analyses.

You've also seen how you can work out and play the best line possible. This will enable you to also develop a feel for the overall situation and possibly make "more correct" decisions.

If there should still be uncertainties despite everything, you can still access the complete palette of learning materials at PokerStrategy.com.


Comments (6)

#1 toske1, 13 Mar 15 18:35


#2 LyToLV, 11 Jun 15 16:36

ther is so meny + and - but thenks for info.

#3 bubamarasr, 22 Jan 16 22:01

Read it. Thank you.

#4 hassux, 25 Jan 16 21:33


#5 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:24


#6 iwan011, 21 Jun 16 19:39