Dec 16 2009

Raises and Fold Equity

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 1

Pre flop play is relatively easy to refine. Most players today have a solid understanding of how to properly adjust hand ranges and raise sizes. 3 betting and 4 betting have become commonplace and the games have gotten much more advanced from a pre flop perspective. Amateur players will be lost if they sit down at a cash table online because they won’t know how to react to all of the aggression that they will inevitably be facing. Weak players get punished now more than ever so it is important that you assume the role of aggressor if you want to become a profitable player. Enough about pre flop though, lets discuss the problematic area for most poker players, post flop.

Post flop play is impossible to master and requires massive amounts of experience just to achieve a solid level of competency. If you don’t know what you are doing pre flop you will inevitably get burned, but if you don’t know what you are doing in post flop play you will be lit on fire. Fold equity is one concept that far too many poker players neglect. Fold equity is essentially represented by the percentage of times where you will force a fold from your opponent. The rest of the percentage is represented by the times where you will be called and either make or miss your hand.

If you are heavily considering your fold equity in a hand there is a solid chance that you are not all that far ahead of the other player and will often be flipping a coin when the other player does indeed call. In fact you will often be behind in situations where you are adding in fold equity because your fold equity levels will need to overtake the percentage of times where you lose. In other words if you lose a hand 40% of the time and win a hand 30% of the time, you will need to force a fold the other 30% of the time. This will allow you to win the pot, one way or another, 60% of the time.

No-Limit Hold’em, $1.00 BB (6 handed) @ PokerStars

Button ($98.20)

SB ($148)

BB ($85.10)

Hero (UTG) ($177.38)

MP ($66.51)

CO ($254.52)

Preflop: Hero is UTG with Ks, Kd

Hero bets $3.50, MP calls $3.50, CO calls $3.50, Button calls $3.50, 1 fold, BB calls $2.50

The pre flop play in this hand is very standard. We make an open raise with pocket kings and get called by many different players. Our position isn’t too good post flop as we will be out of position against three other players.

Flop: ($18) Jc, 10h, 6c (5 players)

BB checks, Hero bets $10, MP calls $10, CO calls $10, Button raises to $34, 1 fold, Hero raises to $140, MP calls $53.01 (All-In), 2 folds

The flop isn’t perfect but it isn’t too bad either. We should lead for closer to $15 here but instead make a $10 bet. After we make the lead bet we are called by two players and then raised by the button. The button will have fold equity in this hand (although not much because their raise is too small) because he will take down the pot when everyone in the hand folds. We, however, are confident that we still have the best hand and decide to shove our remaining stack. We are called only by the middle position player.

Turn: ($188.02) 5h (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: ($188.02) 8s (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: $188.02 | Rake: $3.50


Hero had Ks, Kd (one pair, Kings).

MP had Qs, 9s (straight, Queen high).

Outcome: MP won $369.04

It turns out that our hand was indeed good, but it did not have a huge advantage over our opponent’s hand. Situations like this will generally play out in a similar fashion. Players raise back and forth and get all of the money in the middle only to realize that they were even money all along.

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