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  • September 29, 2020

Online Poker Dictionary: Fold Equity

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This is when a player has enough chips to pressure someone with less chips to fold. If a player has a small amount of chips he is usually forced to showdown his hands because the players with more chips have less to lose.
There are two possible ways a player can win a hand, he either has the best hand at the showdown or he forces all other players to fold their hands in the betting rounds. His probability to win a hand increases as the probability increases that all opponents fold their hands.
Since the percent share of the pot that belongs to a player based on the strength of his cards is called pot equity, the percent that belongs to him based on how likely his opponents are to fold, is called fold equity.
When calculating the expected value, one would reckon on winning a pay-off of x with a probability of, say, 10%.
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When you bet, think of your overall equity like this:
Total Equity = fold equity + hand equity
If our opponent will always fold, we cannot lose and therefore have 100% equity. If we do get called, our hand has equity because it is going to win the pot a % of the time.
Therefore, our total equity is our fold equity + the equity our hand has when we get called.
On a basic level, fold equity can be summarized by the following simple statements:
How much fold equity do we have?
If we think it is likely that our opponent will fold to our bet, we have a lot of fold equity.
If we think it is unlikely that our opponent will fold to our bet, we have little fold equity.
If we do not think our opponent will fold to our bet, we have no fold equity.
How do you get fold equity?
To get fold equity you have to bet or raise. If you are not betting or raising then you are not giving your opponent the opportunity to fold, so you will have no fold equity.
But you’re not trying to obtain fold equity. You either have it or you don’t, and you make the best decision based on what you’ve got. Nonetheless:
The looser our image, the less fold equity we’re likely to have.
The tighter our image, the more fold equity we’re likely to have.
You’ll have the most fold equity when you’ve played the hand in a way that makes it believable that you’ve got your opponent beat. It’s all about your betting pattern and history.
I probably should have clarified this point at the start, but I’m sure the majority of you will have assumed that this was the case anyway.
Mathematics of fold equity.
When you make a bet, you are basically absorbing some of your opponent’s equity in the hand if there is a chance that they will fold. Fold equity can be expressed by a straightforward equation:
Fold equity = (chance our opponent will fold) * (opponent’s equity in the hand).
The % chance that your opponent will fold is based on your knowledge of your opponent. So for example, using your experience you could say that there is a good chance that your opponent will fold 75% of the time when making a bet in a certain situation.
Your opponent’s equity in the hand is pretty self explanatory. It’s just the % of the pot they expect to win on average by the river. More specifically, it’s the % equity their range has, but don’t worry about that for now.
Total equity in the hand.
Total equity = fold equity + hand equity
As you will remember, your total equity in the hand is your current equity plus your fold equity. Fold equity on it’s own isn’t all that useful, so we add it to our standard equity to give us our overall equity in the hand.
The benefits of fold equity.
Fold equity is the reason why semi-bluffs can be profitable.
Fold equity is the driving force behind semi-bluffs. The vast majority of the time you will be using fold equity to your advantage when betting or raising with a flush or a straight draw.
On their own, these draws will generally not have enough equity to make it worth calling bets and raises. However, if you are the one betting and raising, the addition of fold equity can turn the overall equity in your favour. So over the long run, well-played semi-bluffs with drawing hands will be profitable.
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