How To Decide When to Fold in Poker?

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It happens all the time. Their fervent desire for a lucky outcome leads players to end up making significant losses come showdown time. So, how do you decide what betting action to take? Should you call, raise or fold? Because folding implies two fears. The first one is that the more tables you play, the more you lose if you keep laying down mediocre hands. On the other hand, you get a terrible feeling when you’ve just folded the winning hand!

So, how do you know when it’s a perfect moment to fold and it’s okay to move forward? These recommendations are going to help you make this important decision.

Assess the Position

Every poker player knows that the order of making stakes during each betting round depends on the position of the dealer. It goes counter-clockwise, starting from two “blind” positions to the left from the dealer. However, experienced players also recognize other positions at the table. Moreover, they even choose specific strategies depending on their current positions and the hands they got.

So, nearly a quarter of the table next to the blinds is called an early position. Accordingly, next to this one there are equal sectors regarded as middle and late positions. The probabilities in many strategies that consider table positions in poker, mostly count average odds on the basis of the expected value.

Poker Table Positions

Poker table view from the top

Usually, weak and decent positions have a very low probability of winning in the blinds. If you take some time to watch others playing, you will mention that the hardest decisions about folding come after calling a few times with a mediocre hand in early positions.

How do you know if you’ve got a weak, so-so, or a really good hand? Watch the tables below to find out. You can save this page in your bookmarks when playing poker online, and after a few times of checking with these, you will be able to memorize everything you need to know. Additionally, you don’t have to count the probabilities each time – just check the color mark and see if the further call is worth it, or if you have to fold before you lose too much.



Watch the Opponents

Other than keeping track of the table cards, you’ve got to watch carefully what the other players are doing. Of course, it’s easier to do that when you play at the same table for a while, rather than when you open multiple tables online at the same time or keep surfing from one table to another in a land-based casino. That’s why, when you’re just starting to discover all the ins and outs of poker, we suggest you play with real people or nicknames that you’ve come across a few times yet.

Things to look out for these things while watching your opponents:

  • What is their general style of play?
  • How much do they raise and how often?
  • How do they play when they have a good hand?
  • How do they play when they have a bad/mediocre hand?
  • Do they know what they are doing? In other words, do they even have a strategy?

Now you see why the “Poker Face” has become so popular, and why so many beginners learn how to bluff before they even learn how to count the odds! Because if no one can tell what you’re up to, nobody is sure about whether they should fold or not, either. So as a result, you also have a higher probability that they are likely to fold, just in case you have a very strong hand.

Apply Some Poker Science

The way mathematicians count odds for certain combinations in poker is really hard to grasp when you’re just starting. Yet, the easiest rule is this one: the lower the probability, the better the hand is! So as you can see, the royal flush is an extremely rare hand; and that’s why it’s the highest-ranked one in poker.

Most often, the dealer draws you pip cards and sometimes, royals. That’s exactly the reason why it’s so hard to decide when to fold. Because if you get an Ace and a King, things will be so much easier for you; and just generally a whole lot better! Meanwhile, it doesn’t take an  Einstein to make some simple calculations while sitting at the poker table.

First of all, you should assess the pot odds. Check how many chips you have. The fewer of them you can spend, the higher the risk is, and the lower is your chances of success. If your opponents lay a lot of chips on the table while you have little to offer, you should only play if you’re sure you’ve got the fanciest hand of them all! Likewise, if you’re unsure of your pocket cards, it’s better to fold.

Also, if you have fewer chips than other players at the table, it’s easy to become a target for an aggressive game. They might raise their stakes just to kick you out, and not necessarily because they’re confident about their cards! Likewise, the more opponents are at the table, the fewer chances for winning at the showdown for each one of you, because there are more ways to beat your cards.

Another good recommendation is to consider as many potentially winning hands as you can imagine. Because many players end up folding too often when it eventually turns out that they had an opportunity to win. For example, you aim for higher combinations like street or flush then fold when you don’t see a sequence of cards or cards of the same suite. Meanwhile, you may lose sight of the full house coming your way on the river.

At this point, you should also realize that a poker game is not about pure maths. Most of all, it’s based on the limited information that players have about each other. The game outcome depends strongly on the actions of players that may either have an advanced skill level or just be hoping for some good luck. That’s why the win of a strong hand is not guaranteed. Instead, the one who convinced everyone that he’s got something valuable in his pocket has every chance of winning against better hands.

Focus on Your Equity

Put simply, equity in poker is the amount of money you have. And obviously, your goal is to win more than you lose (otherwise, why would you play poker at all?) So as a long-term strategy, going all-in is not a good idea. All in all, skilled players recommend focusing on the chips or money that you save. This is also a useful kind of training to help you gain control over the excess spending.

You might have heard it a thousand times. You must bet only as much as you can afford to lose. But, what is this amount? Generally, poker players go for about 10% of their total equity. Let’s say, you are off to the tournament with $10,000 in your pocket. So, the amount of your buy-in stake for one time should be no more than $1,000. You obviously do want to grab the whole pot in the end. But the earlier you fold, the less money you lose. For this reason, you can save your equity for longer and therefore, you have the chance to sit at a range of different tables as well. And by doing this, you can also increase your chances of receiving better hands in poker.

Focusing on saving money might be a boring and long way of raising your equity in poker. Moreover, you’ll gain a reputation for being a smart player who doesn’t let your emotions get the better of you. As a result, more unsure players are going to be willing to fold at the same table earlier in the game, as they’ll be convinced you’re the kind of players that only ever plays good hands.

The “Right” Feeling

So at the end of the day, what does it mean to have a poker skill? Well given the small amount of cards dealt, counting them is simply impossible. It just so turns out that players mainly rely on something like a predictable analysis. You should analyze your cards and the probability of getting a good match. Then you should analyze the behavior of your opponents and think about what their further actions might be, based on how they treat their hands. Every betting round and every card draw is another piece of information. So, generally, the question of whether to fold or not to fold is a complex decision-making process.

Sometimes, the art of folding a big hand is another part of the poker show. A player may fold and reveal the strong hand right before the showdown. Eventually, they won’t lose as much money as they would if there were holding on until the very end. Also, this shows that even in defeat, they are a worthy opponent.

Yet all too often, your opponent will raise aggressively each round, just to make you fold and win with a low hand. In this case, it is better to stay if you have a very good hand and think twice about any mediocre to low hands.

The poker community also has some pretty advanced players, such as real scientists from leading universities of the world. When they’re gambling, they like to test their knowledge of string theory, game theory, statistical analysis, and modeling. You may want to read some books on those themes to discern more when making tough decisions at the table.

Top 6 Questions About Folding in Poker

  • Should I show the cards when I fold?

It’s your choice whether or not to show your cards when you fold. You can show them if you want, as if to say that you are quitting with cards that really aren’t all that bad anyway. But when you know you’ve got a bad draw, you can simply fold it face down.

  • What if I play every hand in Poker?

If you’re a Poker newbie, it is recommended that you only play the top 10 hands. Then, as you get more and more skilled, you can add other hands as well. When you clearly see a strategy of how you can play those cards on the flop, turn or river, go for it. At first, you can experiment with small bets, but if you’re unsure of whether the hand is worth it or not, it is better to not go too far in this game.

  • Will I lose money if I fold in Poker?

Since you’re starting the game with the buy-in + rake amount, and you’re betting more and more on every round of the game, you do lose money when you fold.

  • What is check-fold in Poker?

This is when you decide to check (let the player after you make a bet), and then fold when it comes your turn to bet again.

  • When I can fold in Texas Hold ‘Em?

You can fold starting from the pre-flop round.

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