What is Fold Equity in Poker

In the realm of poker, the concept of fold equity is a key aspect of the game, albeit one that is subject to various interpretations. Over the course of playing poker, participating in countless draws and analyzing many strategies, I have come to my own understanding of Fold Equity – based on many years of poker experience, I will tell you how to calculate Fold Equity and how it should be understood when playing poker.

fold equity in poker

Fold Equity is essentially the extra benefit a player receives when he makes a bet or raise that causes his opponent to fold. This concept is key because it goes beyond simply calculating odds. It is about using the inherent uncertainty in the game to turn the situation in your favor, not only through the strength of your hand, but also through the perceived strength of your actions.

In order to understand what Fold Equity is and to apply it effectively, I rely on a formula that I have developed over a long period of time that not only helps me but also most of my friends who are also avid poker players, here is the formula to calculate Fold Equity: Fold Equity = (probability of your opponent folding) x (the size of the pot before your bet). This formula captures the essence of fold equity, quantifying it in a way that determines whether a bet or raise will be profitable in the long run based on the probability that your opponent will fold.


From a practical standpoint, using fold equity in your arsenal involves a careful evaluation of the dynamics of the game – your opponents’ betting patterns, the size of their stacks, and the ranges of their potential hands. For example, in a scenario where I don’t have very strong cards in my hand, but I can see my opponent’s weakness – perhaps through his indecision or call – I may decide to make a calculated bet. In this case, my fold-equity depends not on the strength of my cards, but on my estimate of the likelihood that my opponent will capitulate under pressure.

Understanding and utilizing fold-equity has changed the way I approach poker. It has shifted my focus from a simplistic view of poker as a game of hands to a more complex perspective that views it as a game of people, decisions, and probabilities. By considering fold-equity, I was able to make more informed decisions, putting pressure on my opponents at opportune moments and folding when the risk outweighed the potential payoff.

The Importance of Fold Equity

Understanding fold equity is of paramount importance in poker, as it directly affects betting strategies and decision making. It allows players to assess the value of aggressive draws, even with hands that may not be the strongest at the table. By effectively applying fold equity, players can capitalize on their opponents’ tendencies, forcing them to fold and securing their prize pool through strategic betting and raises.

In poker, a fundamental aspect that every player must consider is Fold Equity, a concept that defines the probability that an opponent will fold in response to a bet or raise. The calculation of Fold Equity is crucial for developing strategies that increase the chances of winning the pot without reaching the showdown. The basic formula for calculating Fold Equity is as follows: Fold Equity = (the probability that your opponent will fold) x (the size of the pot before your bet) – (the value of your bet). This equation serves as an essential tool for players who want to make informed decisions based on the expected behavior of their opponents and the current state of play.

Fold Equity in Tournaments

Calculating the fold-equity in poker tournaments is a complex process that requires not only an understanding of the basic principles of poker, but also of all the peculiarities of the tournament. As someone who has been through a large number of tournaments at various levels, I have come to realize the critical importance of fold equity as a tool. In tournaments where the blinds grow at a predetermined pace, it’s important to maintain an aggressive stance in order to stay ahead of the blinds. It’s not just about playing the hands you are dealt, but also about playing in accordance with the tournament structure.

One of the harsh realities of tournament play is that fold equity tends to decrease as the game progresses. This change is primarily due to the increasing blinds and the pressure they put on players to protect their stacks. In the early stages, players may be more willing to fold to aggressive play, giving you higher fold equity. However, as the blinds increase, players’ willingness to fold decreases, especially when their tournament lives are on the line. This changing dynamic requires a clear approach to calculating and utilizing fold equity.

A key tactic in tournaments is blind-raising, a practice that often requires committing what may seem like small bluffs. It’s a calculated risk, not necessarily aimed at winning big pots, but at gradually increasing your stack and maintaining the pace of play. For example, from late position with a moderately strong hand, an effective strategy is to put pressure on the blinds without risking a significant portion of your stack. This is where an understanding of Fold Equity becomes crucial.

The formula for calculating Fold Equity in a poker tournament, while similar in principle to the formula in cash games, requires an adjustment in perspective: Fold Equity = (Probability of your opponent folding) x (Pot size before your bet) – (Cost of your bet). However, in tournaments, this calculation must be contextualized based on tournament stage, blind size, and average stack size. The “probability of an opponent folding” becomes a more fluid variable, heavily influenced by tournament stage and blinds pressure.

In fact, the key difference in calculating fold equity in tournaments is the increased attention to the tournament context – particularly the blinds structure and relative stack sizes. As the blinds grow, every decision takes on greater implications, making an accurate assessment of fold-equity even more important. To navigate this landscape, you need to balance aggression and restraint, pushing when the time is right and folding when the dynamics don’t favor your chances.

Table with Fold Equity in Tournaments

1/2 2/3 3/4 1 5/4 3/2
0.0% 33% 40% 43% 50% 56% 57%
5.0% 29% 36% 38% 46% 52% 53%
7.5% 26% 33% 36% 44% 50% 51%
10.0% 23% 30% 33% 41% 47% 49%
12.5% 20% 27% 30% 38% 45% 47%
15.0% 17% 24% 27% 35% 42% 44%
17.5% 13% 21% 24% 32% 39% 41%
20.0% 9% 17% 20% 29% 35% 37%
22.5% 5% 13% 16% 25% 32% 34%
25.0% 0% 8% 11% 20% 27% 29%
27.5% 0% 3% 6% 15% 22% 24%
30.0% 0% 0% 0% 9% 17% 19%
32.5% 0% 0% 0% 2% 10% 12%


Mastering Fold Equity is an important part of any poker player’s development, marking the transition from playing at an amateur level to playing at a higher level. For those players who play poker and want to reach higher levels of performance, learning about Fold Equity becomes one of the essential elements to know. Adopting its principles is a step towards not just understanding poker, but mastering it.

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Written by Alisa Kotsar
Over the past 7 years, Lean has diligently tracked the progress and transformations in the gambling industry. His distinctive writing style has contributed to the dissemination of important news and updates from the gambling world and clarified important trends in the industry.