A Brief (Mis)Understanding of G-Bucks

In the previous paragraph, we touched on a subject that is commonly referred to as G-Bucks. G- Bucks was originally pioneered as a concept by Phil Galfond (AKA OMGclayaiken, a top-5 player in the world currently). The idea is relatively simple—whether or not you make the correct decision against someone’s hand is relatively unimportant (this type of decision is called a Sklansky buck decision, i.e. if you put in $100 at 20% to win, you win a theoretical $20). Galfond’s idea, though, was that even if you get the money in at 20% to win, if you’re 60% to win against his range, you actually win $60 in the long- term, even though the results of the hand led you to a $20 expectation.

A moment ago, we were talking about how people don’t do a good job of evaluating the strength of draws in the context of equity. They assume that if a person has a draw more often than 50% of the time, they should go all-in. This ignores the fact that range equities are what matter—a person with a range that looks like sets 40% of the time and draws 60% of the time usually is a big favorite against our range, even though they have a draw more than half the time. This is a pretty basic understanding of G- bucks in terms of equity.

This also is a pretty decent argument as for why we shouldn’t overly concern ourselves with math when trying to play poker at a table. The math is either very simple (we have the nut flush draw and thus have around 45% equity) or extremely complicated (against an estimated 10% of his range, we are 75% equity, against an estimated 35% of his range, we have 20% equity, against an estimated 55% of his range, we have 45% equity, balance out the range equity and compare to pot odds to determine our G- bucks). Even in the complicated scenario, it relies on deductive analysis to determine his likely range. In general, we’ll instead rely on the basic math and a generalized, “feel” approach to the complicated stuff. But, it’s important to know that G-bucks defines a structural poker concept.

Since writing this chapter for the initial release of “Easy Game”, it has come to my attention that G-Bucks, as originally written, refers not to our hand’s strength against our opponent’s ranges but the opposite—our range against our opponent’s holding. In terms of understanding the concept, this is somewhat beside the point. What matters is that we’re focused on identifying our equity against our opponent’s range first and foremost. It’s a rather more advanced skill to identify our range’s equity against our opponent’s range (and one that we won’t really need to emphasize until we play against the same strong players every day). Until we hit the nosebleeds, we can take advantage of the practical uses of G-Bucks and focus on range equities.

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