Spend a lot of time around poker, and you’ll hear the term “equity” used in various capacities. One of the most common is pot equity, which refers to how much money a player will theoretically earn from a specific situation in the long-term.
Another concept where the term equity is tacked onto is fold equity, which is somewhat different from pot equity. Here you’re considering the additional value you get from a hand based on the chance that your opponent could fold to a raise. In other words, you’re almost always gaining some extra equity by making a bet because your opponent could fold – thus leaving you with the entire pot.
The simplest way to show how fold equity works is through the following formula:
(chance of opponent folding) X (opponent’s hand equity) = fold equity
To put this formula into action, let’s say that you hold Ah-Jd and your opponent has 6s-6c; if the flop is Kc-Qd-3d, you have 39.60% equity in the pot while your opponent has 60.40% equity (poker odds calculators are always good for figuring this). Assuming you both knew exactly what each other’s cards were, this wouldn’t be a profitable long-term situation for you.
However, let’s also assume that – based on the fact that your opponent’s pocket 6′s are fairly low and there are two overcards on the board, there is a 60% chance of your opponent folding to an all-in shove by you. Let’s plug these numbers into the formula:
60% x 60.4% = 36.24%
Adding this 36.24% fold equity to your current 39.60% figure, you now have 75.64% total equity. Taking this into account, you could definitely show long-term profitability by shoving in this situation.
The Reality of Fold Equity
It’s important to understand that fold equity won’t always work out this cleanly when semi-bluffing. After all, knowing what percentage of the time your opponent will fold to a raise or shove is purely based on your observations. However, as you gain experience using this concept and observing online poker opponents, it becomes easier to effectively use fold equity when making decisions.