What Is The Fold Equity Strategy?

What Is The Fold Equity Strategy?

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Every poker player, whether professional or recreational, experiences a time when their stack and position in a poker game dwindles to the point of distress. Being short-stacked and on the brink of being knocked out often compels players to make wrong decisions at crucial junctures of a game. This is where the poker strategy of fold equity comes into the picture. Fold equity in poker is simply a concept using which players can determine the likelihood of their opponent folding their bet. This strategy often comes in handy during difficult times when players are more than likely to make rash decisions, and the best part about this strategy is that it is pretty simple. Keep reading this guide to know everything from the basic concept, application, and critical factors related to folding equity.

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What Is The Fold Equity Strategy?

When it comes to poker, “Equity” is a term that is often used to describe a person’s share in the current pot. For instance – if your equity in the pool is 60%, then the chance of you winning the hand is 60%. The equity is generally displayed in the form of percentages though it can also be expressed as the expected value.

Taking this concept further is the strategy of fold equity. This concept lets players calculate what they stand to win if they force their opponents to fold their cards by either raising or betting. Now, the mathematical equation for calculating fold equity is relatively straightforward, and it is as mentioned below:

Fold Equity

Likelihood of opponent folding x gain in equity if opponent folds

Here, you need many observational skills to calculate the probability of an opponent folding his cards. To get a clear picture, you may use the two below-mentioned ways to gather data.

Monitor The Folds

Pay close attention to your opponent so that you can note how your opponent played his last 10 hands, and try to identify a pattern if there is any. For instance – if your opponent folded 8 times in the previous 10 hands, then this suggests that he likely folds 80% of the time. By monitoring the folds of your opponent, you will be able to determine a precise percentage to work with.

Pay Close Attention To Other Details

You must pay close attention to other details as well. For instance, if your opponent tends to scare easily with significant raises, he would likely not fold easily.

Now, let us look at a step-by-step procedure for calculating fold equity.

Fold Equity Calculation

Step 1 – Calculation Of Likelihood Of Opponent Folding

Put, no standard procedure or formula for calculating this value exists. Players must gather all the information they can about how often their opponent folds. For instance – after careful evaluation, a player concludes that their opponent is likely to fold 70% of the time.

Step 2- Gain In Equity If Opponent Folds

After that, let us assume a player holds a pair of eights while his opponent holds a queen and a nine. In this situation, the player has just over a 55% chance of winning a $100 pot using the strategy of fold equity. This means the player’s pot equity is close to $55 for the current hand. On the contrary, the opponent has a 45% chance of winning this hand, which means the opponent’s pot equity is approximately $ 45.

Step 3 – Calculation Of Pot Equity

Let us substitute the above values in the equation to calculate the amount of the fold equity. So, combine the opponent’s 70% chance of folding with their 45% pot equity, and the fold equity comes down to 31.5%. After that, add this 31.5% to the player’s pot equity, i.e., 55%, and there you have your fold equity which in this case comes down to 86.5%. This means a player playing this round has an 86.5% chance of winning.

As a bonus tip, remember that fold equity is most effective when calculated using exact figures and accurate reads. To explore the concept of fold equity in greater detail, we have detailed another working example of fold equity in the upcoming section.

Demonstration Of Fold Equity Strategy – A Situational Example

Let’s imagine a situation where you are playing a round of poker and currently hold 6 clubs and 6 hearts. Alternatively, your opponent, Mike, holds a Jack of Spades and 10 diamonds. Looking at the cards, as you might have guessed, both you and your opponent welcome a 50:50 chance of winning this round. Since you already own a pair, your pot equity comes down to 51%. So, in a $100 pot, while your pot equity is $51, Mike’s pot equity is $49.

However, at this point, you need to consider that till now, we have only calculated the pot equity with absolutely no reference to the fold equity. So, for the sake of this example, let’s assume there is roughly a 50% chance that Mike will fold to a raise or an all-in bet. So, the fold equity in this example comes down to:

Likelihood of opponent folding = 50% x 49% = 24.5%

Gain in equity if opponent folds = 51%

Fold equity = likelihood of opponent folding + gain in equity if opponent folds = 75.5%

Thus, your fold equity in a $100 pot is 75.5% or $75.5. Putting it simply, the greater the chance that your opponent will fold to a bet, the greater the fold equity in a poker game.

Key Factors To Consider For An Effective Fold Equity Strategy

So, you have learned the basic concept of fold equity and its application in different situations. What Next? Determining the fold equity in hand is generally far more complex than what meets the eye. This is because critical factors typically significantly impact a person’s fold equity. It is essential to understand these factors, but if you aim to become a professional poker player, you must learn to evaluate these factors while sitting at an online virtual poker table.

Table Image

Firstly, while playing a poker game, try to understand your present table image. This is because it has been historically proven that table image generally significantly impacts a person’s fold equity. For instance – do you typically play tight initially and bring your A-game to the table only toward the end? Do you hold naturally strong cards? Do you bluff during a game?

Well, if you generally play tight due to a poor show of cards and only get off the line when you have a strong performance of cards, then there is a strong probability that you likely hold high fold equity. Conversely, if you generally play aggressively, even with poor cards, there is a high chance that your fold equity will be pretty low.

This is because if, during a particular game, you happen to play tight initially and then start betting aggressively, your opponents will give you credit for holding a solid hand. You can also use your table image to bluff your opponents by making them believe you have a strong hand when you don’t.

Hand Range

The perceived hand range is a significant factor that impacts a player’s fold equity. Now, hand range, in simple terms, is described as the range of cards you typically display during a showdown. For instance, if you generally show strong cards during the showdown, your opponents will likely fold when you start betting or raising aggressively. Conversely, if you often have a poor show of cards during the showdown, then rest assured of low-fold equity during a game. Generally speaking, while having the ability to read your opponents during a game of poker is extremely important, the importance of building a solid table and hand range image is also undeniable.

Opponent's Table Image

What table image does your opponent generally portray at the table?

Do they generally bluff? Or do they play typically tight and selective? Contrary to common belief, the fold equity of a player increases typically manifold when they are playing against a strong player. Why? How? Because even though it is true that strong players mostly bring their A-game to the table, it is also an undeniable fact that these players usually fold far more quickly when they perceive they are close to being knocked out. As you might have guessed, your table image and general hand range also have a vital role to play here.

Stack Size

Let’s put it this way, your fold equity in a particular poker game is directly proportional to your stack size. Let’s assume you have a stack for the following 10 big blinds while your opponent has a pile for the next 50. Since your opponent poses a more significant threat here, it is quite likely your fold equity will be significantly lower.

In another situation, you hold a stack for the following 60 big blinds, and your opponent has a stack size for the following 50 big blinds. Here, your fold equity will be much higher because if you move all-in, your opponent’s entire tournament life can be in danger. Now, it's up to your opponent to determine whether their cards are worth the risk.

Position

Almost everything in a poker game depends heavily on the position. In this regard, players raising a bet from an early position usually have far more fold equity than players who grow their stakes from later works. This is because when you submit a chance from an early appointment with many opponents still to act, you message that you hold a robust set of cards. On the other hand, when you raise a bet from a later position, it is generally perceived that you have a weak hand.

Number Of Opoonent's

The ideal scenario in a poker game is when you are playing against a single opponent. This is because, as a player, if you make a raise with multiple players in the pot, then chances are pretty high that someone will call. Therefore, the fewer opponents will likely fold to your bet, the higher will be the fold equity. Let’s understand this situation with an example –

You are playing against a single opponent in the hand whose likelihood of folding is 50%. So, your fold equity for the current game is 50%. In a different scenario, you are playing against 3 other players, each having a 50% chance of folding. In this situation, your fold equity comes down to 25% or even less.

The Right Time To Calculate Fold Equity

Fold equity, to say the least, is regarded as an advanced strategy in poker. Why? As discussed before, you need to have an accurate reading of your opponent to calculate the exact percentage of the fold equity. This is quite difficult because you can never be 100% sure what your opponent genuinely holds. Conversely, this strategy can only be applied in situations where it is possible to read the opponent.

Along the same lines, the ideal time to calculate fold equity is against short-stacked players who still display a clear play pattern. By using the fold equity strategy against these players, you will likely be able to base your decisions on a more exact percentage of fold equity.

Vital to this, as a thumb rule, always refrain from using the fold equity strategy against reckless or short-chip stacked players who generally do not follow patterns and often take far more risks to stay in the game than an experienced player does. Since these players do not follow common ground, it becomes close to impossible to gauge the likelihood of their folding the cards.

Application Of Fold Equity – Tournament Situation

Not many people realize it, but fold equity is a significant concept in tournament poker. The blinds generally escalate in poker tournaments every 5-10 minutes. This puts considerable pressure on the players to make the correct decisions consistently and too quickly. One bad call during a game can make the player lose much money.

However, tournaments also act as the ripe ground for players to put their fold equity strategy into practice. This is because most players generally tighten up during poker tournaments to avoid being knocked out of the play or the game itself. The tight players are also more likely to fold in an event should you happen to move all in. This, in turn, significantly increases a player’s fold equity and, in turn, their chances of winning.

Conclusion

Understanding how much fold equity you hold in a poker game can significantly improve your odds of winning. However, ensure you do not get too aggressive with the fold equity strategy that you blindly start betting, hoping your opponent will fold. While aggression and compelling other players to fold are two of the most prominent tools in a poker’s players arsenal. A blind attack often does a player more harm than good.

Therefore, while employing the strategy of fold equity, be rational and think with an open mind. First, understand and master the process of fold equity and its application. After that, note the table image of your opponent and calculate the percentage of times they are likely to tuck in a game. Do not call or raise just because you think your opponent is “weak” or “strong.” Always use the fold equity to improvise or change your game.

To practice the concept of fold equity in a live game scenario, signup up for the GetMega Poker app today and participate in multiple poker games and tournaments of your choice.

FAQ's

What Is Fold Equity?

  • Fold equity is the probability of making opponents fold their hands, allowing a player to win the pot without a showdown.

How Do You Calculate Required Fold Equity?

  • To calculate required fold equity, divide the size of the bet by the total size of the pot including the bet.

What Is The Value Of Fold Equity?

  •  The value of fold equity lies in the ability to win pots without the strongest hand, increasing profitability and reducing risk.

What Is The Raise Or Fold Strategy?

  • The raise or fold strategy involves either raising to apply pressure on opponents or folding to conserve chips, avoiding marginal situations.
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