While playing the last table of the $1,500 Pot-limit Texas Hold em game, I found myself in a mean point when we were down to 4-handed play. I was in the big blind and Rizen, a difficult, noble online tournament pro, was in the small blind. It was folded to Rizen who announced that he would raise the size of the pot. With blinds of 15,000/30,000, his raise made it $90,000 to me.
At the time, I had about $400,000 in chips; Rizen had 750k and the 2 other players had about 250,000 each.
I peaked at my hand and found As-8s, a fair holding in short-handed play. I determined to make a pot-sized bet. My total bet was 180k. Rizen instantly made a reraise, forcing me with no choice but to go all in.
The pot contained $580,000 ($400,000 from Rizen, 180,000 from me) and I had 220,000 to spare. I was getting around 3 to 1 odds, so this appeared to be an instant call. I needed to win the pot only about 27 percent of the time to justify a call.
Against a large pair in the hole (other than aces), my A-8 suited would win almost 32 percent of the time. Against a bigger ace (A-K, A-Q, etc), my A-8 suited would win about 30% of the time. There was also a non-zero (though small) chance I was up against a little pair in the hole and would win approximately 50 percent of the time.
The equity involved in this decision was the same either way. Folding and calling would have the same result in regards to long term value. To discover the correct play, I had to consider more than just pot odds and consider (a) what this hand would do to my cash for the poker tournament (i.e., which action would be the most profitable) and (b) how this hand would affect my chances of winning the tournament.
Calculating Cash Equity in a Poker Tournament
Several factors mattered when looking at my cash equity:
- Each chip in a short stack is more valuable in terms of cash-equity than each chip in a large stack. By making a call in this circumstance I would have been risking valuable chips to pick up chips of little value.
- Folding takes away any opportunity of busting. By folding, I would give my opponents an opportunity to bust on future hands, moving me up to a larger payday.
After determining what to do, it seemed that the best option would be to fold. Anyways, I had to consider how folding would effect my ability to capture the bracelet – which was my primary concern. Would I be placing myself out of the running by giving up on so many chips? Not really.
When there are over 2 players left, each additional chip you accumulate has a lesser impact on your capacity to secure the tournament. So when the chip equity decision is a tossup, you are better off folding than you are attempting to keep more chips.
If at any time find yourself in a relative case, you should also remember that there’s a large change between moving all in and calling to put all my chips in. When you move in, you can win the pot by forcing a fold. When you call, this obviously isn’t attainable.
I decided to fold and wait for a higher quality condition, and I’m very happy that I did.