What is fold equity in poker?
Fold equity is a poker strategy that has become more and more recognized over the last few years. In its most basic form, fold equity is the chance that your opponent will fold, based on your actions.
Fold equity has a lot to do with reading your opponent. You have to be able to determine how often you believe he will fold, according to the size of the pot.
If you surmise that he will fold approximately 30% of the time in a $100 pot, the fold equity becomes $30 (30% of the pot). Therefore, placing a $30 bet or raise has fold equity.
When to Use Fold Equity
Let's start by saying this: When playing small stakes poker, fold equity can be a very effective poker strategy. However, the higher the stakes, the more profitable fold equity becomes. It will be least effective at micro-limit stakes. Players are less likely to fold when there is so little at stake.
For obvious reasons, fold equity is pointless against a loose player who rarely folds anyway. Loose players are common in small stakes poker games, so be sure to make note of them quickly and avoid using fold equity when they are in the pot with you.
With that said, fold equity is most effective when semi-bluffing. It is difficult to utilize fold equity with any real success on a straight out bluff, simply because it is so hard to read an opponent with that much accuracy. Only the most hard core, psychologically adept poker players can put their opponents on a weak hand precisely enough to use fold equity with no hand of their own to speak of.
Integrating fold equity with semi-bluffs is much more effective. When it works, you claim the pot instantly. But when your opponent chooses not to fold, at least you have something worthy of falling back on.
For example, if you flop a flush draw, fold equity can help you decide the proper move against a betting opponent - call, raise or fold. He limped in pre-flop, and now bets 5x the big blind. With little more than an Ace to your name, the flop comes down 8s-Jc-Qs. After reading him for awhile, you put him on a hand range of anywhere from 8-8 to Q-Q, or maybe a Straight Draw.
You have Ace high at the moment, but with As-9s, you have plenty of outs to a better hand, including any spade and a gut-shot straight draw with a 10.
What do you do - call, raise or fold?
Let's look at the option to call. You've already determined that your opponent probably has the best hand. Calling would only propagate a potentially bad situation. It also has absolutely no fold equity.
Maybe you should fold? It would be a safe move, but maybe not the best. You've already decided that this opponent has a 30% chance of folding, and giving up now has a 100% loss rate. If you fold, he gains from fold equity, not you.
Raising on fold equity is the correct decision here for a number of reasons. First off, you've put him on a fairly wide range of hands, many of which have very low potential for decent improvement.
Secondly, by raising, you're representing a much stronger hand than he has. That alone increases your fold equity.
To raise at this point will, more often than not, result in a fold; assuming you correctly read your opponent and done note taking throughout the duration of the session. Should he choose to stay in the pot, your semi-bluff can still produce a winning hand.
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