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Sklansky Dollars

Evan Jarvis

categories Concepts

David Sklansky, a renowned American poker theorist, author and professional poker player, has probably saved millions of poker players millions of collective headaches with his advent of Sklansky dollars (aka. Sklansky bucks). Sklansky dollars are themselves imaginary, but the concept allows you to use your current pot equity to see how much money you can usually expect to snag from the pot.  

The Sklansky Dollars Formula: 

[(total pot size) x (equity)] - last call amount = Sklansky Dollars

What the....? OK. Let's look at an example to tease that sucker out:

The Situation

Game: $50NL

Opponent: LAG

Your cards: A♥ A♣

Opponent card: A♦ K♦ 

Your opponent pushes all-in pre-flop and you call.

Board: K♣ 2♦ T♣ 7♠ K♥

You see that right. You just lost, but using Sklansky dollars can show you that you did not actually make a bad call. Usually, that hand would pan out in your favour. 

Here's what we mean: 

First we need to calculate your pot equity, then multiply that number by the pot's total size. Then, we subtract our final call or bet from that final pot size.

By utilizing the wonders of PokerStove, we can determine that we had 87.9% hand equity with our hole cards against the opponent's hole cards. You can also find out how to do this calculation yourself by learning about poker odds. To get your pot equity, you are going to multiply your hand equity by the pot size.

Since the final pot size was $100 and our hand equity was 87.9%, we can deduce that on average we stand to score a $87.90 pot whenever we make the same call with the same cards pre-flop. 

Finally, let's do the subtraction. Take the final call ($50) and subtract it from the size of the final pot ($87.90) and Sklansky dollars dictate you stand to win $37.90 when calling an all-in for $50 with your particular hole cards (A♥ A♣)  

Translation: Yes, you actually lost $50 in real money, but, theoretically speaking, you stand to gain $37.90 in Sklansky dollars every time you make the same decision in the same predicament. 

Sklansky dollars be damned! Real money is the only thing that matters, right?

Wrong. Each and every hand you play is influenced by unpredictable and unforeseeable elements, including the cards in your opponent’s hand and the cards on the board. Even the best hand and the best strategic thinking can lose out to some bad luck. Sklansky dollars allow you to see how much you would have won in the big picture. They allow you to visualize how the hand would usually turn out and help to affirm your good (or in some cases bad decision) making. The big picture is important when it comes to poker because it represents what you are actually striving for overall.

Sklansky dollars are an invaluable tool to help you keep your eyes on the prize.