Every single time you play a hand in no limit hold’em then equity should be the very first thing on your mind. This is because it is equity which underpins everything that you are looking to do in the hand. If you make a bluff then you are looking at fold equity. If you play a hand then you may be looking at showdown equity. If you call a raise with a hand that you know is weaker than your opponents then you are looking at your equity versus their range.
When you select a hand to call a raise then you will be doing so with a combination of hand equity versus their range, fold equity and other types of equity in mind when you make the play. Wherever you look then equity is key and let us say that you have a hand like 8c-7c and you call a raise from a hand that you think you are currently losing to. The flop comes Qd-9c-6s giving you a straight draw. Your opponent bets two thirds of the pot and you raise to three times their bet.
You have a lot of fold equity in the hand because they will fold all fresh air and weak pairs. However let us say that your timing is off and they have connected with the flop with A-Q giving them top pair and top kicker. Here you still have nearly 37% equity in the hand when called with your straight draw and possible runner-runner hits as well. So you have the safety net of the draw to help you make money from the hand on top of all of the times that your opponent misses the flop and cannot call your flop raise. This is why equity is so crucial in no limit hold’em and should be the first thing that you think about.