Some new players might ask, “What is fold equity in poker?”

In poker, the concept of fold equity (FE) is the probability that your opponent will fold their cards to your bet or raise. It’s not the same as normal equity, meaning the chance your hand will win the pot.

Fold equity is a more elusory concept because we can’t truly know how often our opponent will fold. However, real equity is easy to calculate and doesn’t change.

Linus Loeliger bets $110,000 into a pot of $151,000 on a great river card

We can win the pot by making our opponents fold, which is why we should consider how often it happens.

Let’s talk more about the meaning of fold equity, ways to calculate it, and how to apply it to your poker games.

When you make a bet or raise, fold equity is the probability of your opponent folding their hand. For example, if you check on the flop, you have 0% fold equity from that action. If you make a bet, maybe your fold equity is 40%, depending on the situation.

Fold equity is mainly useful for bluffs and semi-bluffs, but you could also consider it for value betting. Most of the time, you’ll want to consider it when your goal is to make an opponent muck their hand.

If you’re aware of ranges, you can estimate ‌fold equity for different spots. Using fold equity, you can target stronger hands and have a more profitable bluffing strategy. It also applies to your continuation bet strategy with semi-bluffs.

Какой вид покера предпочитаешь?

A check gives you 0% fold equity (FE), but any bet you make has at least a small percentage of fold equity – the trick is finding out how much EF you have.

In most cases, larger bets have more fold equity, while smaller bets have less.

Pot size matters too, as your opponents will have a much easier time calling your action if the bet is small – relative to the pot.

Elton Tang makes an easy call in the Triton Series cash game

In our example below, King Wong moved all-in for €43,000, but there was €131,000 in the pot. Elton easily called with his top pair facing this roughly one-third pot-sized bet.

When you calculate fold equity for bluffs, you should compare the risk-to-reward ratio to see if the action is really profitable (or a losing long-term play).

Firstly, fold equity is not something that you can accurately calculate before your timer runs out. It’s more effective to make estimations about it and get more precise numbers with poker tools (like GTO Wizard’s calculator) after your sessions.

If you want to calculate fold equity precisely, here’s the equation:

Fold equity = (probability our opponent will fold) x (opponent’s hand equity)

At the table, we don’t know these numbers with certainty. After sessions, you could accurately calculate fold equity for important hands you played.

To find the probability of our opponent folding, we need to know our opponent’s range and how those hands will react to our bet sizing. Obviously, those are multiple factors that can’t be evaluated in your poker games.

To find our opponent’s hand equity, we need to choose specific hands. This is more simple to find once you’ve chosen hole cards from a range. Our online calculator can give you that number instantly.

If you’re playing online poker on any of the major sites, you will only have enough time to estimate the probability of parts of your opponent’s range being folded. It’s best to study fold equity more and then apply the concepts in spots you regularly encounter.

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Think about these factors when you are estimating fold equity.

1. Your bet size.

The trick is to find a bet size that achieves your goal without using more chips than you need to.

2. The pot size.

Your bet must be sized in relation to the pot to achieve the desired FE.

3. Your opponent.

Your fold equity might be wrong if you are basing it on the wrong type of opponent. Does your bet or raise really have the fold equity you think it does?

4. Your table image.

Have you been showing a lot of strong hands recently? If that’s the case, then you might have more fold equity. If you’ve been caught bluffing a lot, your fold equity will be reduced.

Art makes a great bluff against Garrett

5. Number of opponents.

If you make a bet against a single opponent, it’s easier to estimate fold equity. Against multiple opponents, you might have less fold equity in some spots, such as a small open raise. In other scenarios, you might get more fold equity from multiple opponents, perhaps if you 3-bet on a scary river card.

6. The board texture.

If the flop isn’t very complex or scary, your bet might have less fold equity. If your opponent has fewer reasons to fold, that means your bet has less fold equity. On the flip side, scary board textures can increase fold equity.

7. Continued aggression displays.

If you’re the preflop raiser or 3-better, your perceived range is quite strong. If you continue showing aggression with a continuation bet on the flop, you might have slightly higher fold equity.

Aggressive Poker: How To Use It and Defend From It
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Risk-to-reward will tell you exactly how many chips you are risking and what you might gain from the action. This is important if we are going to understand the impact of fold equity.

Calculate risk-to-reward in poker like this:

[Your Betdivided by - (Your Bet + Pot Size Before Your Bet)] x 100

Or

[B / (B + P)] x 100

Try this calculation for yourself. You are on the flop in an online cash game and there is $50 in the pot. You bet 10% of the pot or $5.

What is the risk-to-reward ratio?

The equation:

[$5 / ($5 + $50)] x 100

The risk-to-reward ratio is:

Equal to around 9%

If your risk-to-reward ratio is 9%, it means that your $5 bet needs a minimum of 9% (but hopefully more) to be profitable.

This is assuming that if your opponent calls, your hand has 0% and no chance to win or improve. In reality, you will have some equity. The more equity your hand has, the less fold equity you need to have. That’s because you can win with a fold, but you also have a chance to win without a fold.

Understanding fold equity, even on a general level, can help you make more strategic bluffs.

Fine-tune your semi-bluffs, using fold equity to decide which hands your bet will put pressure on and how large to size them.

Remember to use fold equity concepts against players who understand poker. If you start worrying too much about fold equity, when the player across from you doesn’t have enough experience to fold many hands, you’re wasting time.

Playing in freerolls is a zero-investment way to win money, but fold equity changes when there is nothing at stake. If you are in play money games or freeroll tournaments, think about fold equity in more simplistic terms.

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