Poker Strategy 101: What are “Sklansky dollars”?
David Sklansky came up with idea of the “Sklansky dollars” (Sklansky dollars) in one of his many books about poker strategy. It’s a term that you can put to work for you when you play Texas Hold’em.
Basically, “Sklansky dollars” indicate how much money you should expect to win out of the pot based on your equity at any point in a hand. They’re not real, of course, but they are a good way to evaluate the amount of money you win from your hands. Multiply the pot size by your equity, and then subtract the call amount from that answer. If this is starting to sound too much like algebra, let’s take a look at an example.
So, you’re playing an $100 No Limit poker game with an aggressive counterpart. You have AA, and your opponent has A-Q. The opponent goes all in before the flop, and you call, excited about what’s coming. Unfortunately, the board shows up like this: Q-3-7-J-Q. No, you didn’t win, and your $100 is gone. However, you’re going to win this situation a lot more often than you will lose it, based on that high pair you were holding, so this wasn’t a bad decision. A Sklansky calculation shows you what you can expect to win on the average.
So what’s your equity?
Well, if you use a poker hand evaluation software, poker utilities or a probabilistic poker calculator, you’ll find that if you have A-A against an A-Q preflop, your equity is 87.9%. That final pot size was $200 ($100 for each of you), so if you multiply that by the equity, you get $175.80. So you might have lost that $200 pot, but you should expect to win $175.80 on average every time you have A-A against A-Q pre-flop.
Get your earnings by taking out the call. So you take out that $100 you had in the pot, and you see that you had $75.80 in Sklansky dollars (your earnings).
Remember — real dollars and Sklansky dollars are quite different. In that last example, you picked up $75.80 in Sklansky dollars, but your real stack went down by $100.
What is The real benefit of the Sklansky Dollars?
The real benefit of the Sklansky dollars is that they show you whether a decision was wise or not. You’re not going to use probabilistic poker calculators and run a detailed analysis in the middle of a poker tournament or when your are hitting the free online poker tables. However, when you’re feeling sore afterward, understanding that this is a situation that you would win almost all of the time, you can feel better about your judgment. If you start questioning your judgment, then you’ll start making bad decisions, following anger and frustration instead of logical principles. That’s the surest way to see your account drain in a fairly short amount of time. You’re going to have bad losses like the one described above. That’s why it’s called GAMBLING. But if you make decisions with the right judgment, more often than not you’ll get the results that you expect. And when you’re on a streak when the luck isn’t going your way, looking at the Sklansky dollars in each situation can help reassure you and keep you consistent in your strategy so that, when the luck turns, you’ll be hitting those expected outcomes.