What is Fold Equity and How is it Important for You in Poker?

Poker has long been known as a game of strategy. While it is true that strategy is a big part of the game, there’s another, almost as important aspect of the game that has received far less attention: the psychology of it.

When you are sitting at the poker table, you may come across situations where you have to make a decision about a hand. However, you may not have all the information about the situation and its ramifications. In such scenarios, you can use the term ‘folding equity’. It is a concept in poker that means the amount of information you have about the cards in your hand, the other players at the table, the rules of the game, and the situation at hand. If you do not think you can win the hand, folding equity is the most sensible way to go about it.

If you do not have any information about the other players, or if you think you are not at the top of your game, folding equity is the best way to go. Let’s explore fold equity in poker further by diving into the concept and its applications.

What is Fold Equity?

There are many concepts and theories that revolve around game psychology, but fold equity is one of the most important in poker.

In poker, when you are playing a hand and you are sure that you do not have a winning hand, you can fold the hand. The poker term for this is ‘fold equity’. Let’s look at how you can calculate fold equity in poker.

If you are sitting at a table and you have a hand in an unfavorable situation, you can fold the hand. This is an exercise in fold equity. The calculation is simple – the amount of equity you have in the situation. If you can say that you can’t win the hand, then you don’t have any equity in the situation. You can only have equity in your cards and the other players at the table.

Why Should You Care?

When you start playing poker seriously, you will encounter many situations that challenge your poker skills. You will make mistakes, lose money, and even lose your cool. At some point, you will encounter a situation where you feel extremely stressed out or overwhelmed. You might even feel like giving up. These situations are difficult and they will happen at some point to every poker player. Because the best players in the world are also the most mentally strong, these situations are also the best opportunities for you to improve your game.

The most important thing about fold equity is that you don’t try to use it in every situation. Instead, you apply it selectively to the times when you have the greatest opportunity to use it.

How to Apply Fold Equity

Let’s say you’ve reached the turn on a T♥ 7♣ 5♠ 2♦ board with $100 in the pot. You have an open-ended straight draw with 9♣ 8♣ and are considering a semi-bluff of $50. This is a situation where you could use fold equity to your advantage.

If you decide to drop in the $50 bet, you have two ways to win:

  • Your opponent calls and you hit a straight on the river*, which will happen around 18% of the time.
  • Your opponent folds.

The formula will be:

Risk-to-Reward Ratio = [50 / (50 + 100)] x 100

Risk-to-Reward Ratio = 0.33 x 100

Risk-to-Reward Ratio = 33%

In this case, assuming your bluff has 0% equity when called, your $50 bet needs more than 33% fold equity in order to be profitable over the long run. The more equity you have, the less fold equity you need in order to have a profitable bet. 

source: upswingpoker


If you are a beginner or intermediate poker player, you should care about fold equity for the same reason that you should care about any aspect of poker: to become a better player at Capitol Casino.