Home/ How to Play Poker/ Poker Math/ Poker Equity/ Fold Equity

Fold Equity

Fold equity is the equity you gain based on how often a player will fold to your bet.

Betting usually increases your overall likelihood of winning a hand, as aggressive actions can induce folds without going to showdown. This extra likelihood is known as fold equity as should be added to your absolute equity.

Fold Equity Explained

If you have a 50% chance to win the hand, but betting will cause your opponent to fold 20% of the time, your overall poker equity increases:

No bet: 50% equity

Bet: 50% + (0.2 * 50%) = 60% equity

The size of the bet and the odds your opponent will fold will determine if this increase in equity is profitable in the long run.

Fold equity can become important in short stack situations in a no-limit holdem tournament.  A basic example of fold equity is when a player pushes with a draw and allows himself to win one of two ways:  

  • He can hit his hand
  • He can force the other player(s) to fold

In words the fold equity formula would read:

Our win odds + (percentage of times villain x his win odds)

Fold Equity Examples

Example 1

We hold {Ac) K♣ on a Q♠ 3♦ 9♥ flop on Americas Cardroom.  For this example let’s assume we know villain is holding exactly 2♥ 2♠.  We also know that this villain is going to fold the flop 67% of the time.

We have 28.2% win odds, the villain folds 67% of the time, and his win odds are 71.7%

28.2 + .67 (71.7) = 76.2% of winning

As you can see by betting we have almost tripled our odds of winning.

Example 2

Another way we can look at fold equity is how much is in the pot and our odds of winning by using a fold equity calculator. There are many fold equity calculators online, but most require four pieces of information:

  • The effective stack size
  • Our estimated equity
  • Pot size
  • How big of a bet are we making

For example, we are playing in a .25/.50 no limit game on PaddyPower. We raise in the cutoff with A♦ 6♦ to $1.20. A tight player on the button 3-bets to $3.20, we call $2.

The flop comes 2♦ 6♠ 9♦ with $7 in the pot.

We check and the button bets $4.60, making the pot $11.60.

Our information looks like this:

  • Effective stack size: $21.70
  • Estimated Equity: 43% (if the tight 3-bettor has AA)
  • Pot Size: $11.60
  • Our all-in bet size: $17.10

Plugging those numbers into the calculator we must believe the 3-bettor will fold more than 32% of the time for this to be +EV.

Fold Equity Chart

The chart below shows how much of a fold percentage you must have for having neutral EV.

Fold Equity Chart 

A higher percentage than what is shown would be +EV, lower would be –EV. 

Understanding Fold Equity Calculations

If we run the above hand 3 times, we can see why he needs to fold more than 32%.

When he will folds we win the pot of $11.60, of which we invested $3.20. This gives us a positive return of +$8.40.

Two times he will call making the pot $50.40, which we will win 43% of the time. We invested $24.90 and have $21.67 of equity, mean we lose $3.23 each time he calls.

How much will we win or lose based on how often he calls?

Villain Folds 50% of the time -- 1 fold (+$8.40): 1 call (-$3.23) =  +$5.17

Villain Folds 33% of the time -- 1 fold (+$8.40): 2 calls (-$6.46) =  +$1.94

Villain Folds 25% of the time -- 1 fold (+$8.40): 3 calls (-$9.69) = -$1.09

Equity calculations are paramount without player reads on Bovada's anonymous tables.