When and Why to Fold in Texas Holdem Poker
One of the most important skills in online poker is folding. This truism applies both to beginning players, intermediate players and to some advanced poker players as well.
Why is it hard to fold in online poker?
Let us start by reviewing why it is hard to fold in poker. Like anything difficult and counter-intuitive, or say counter our natural inclinations, if you can overcome your instincts, this is a skill. This is Power Poker.
The natural tendency of almost all poker players is to call a bet rather than to fold their hand, unless there is an obvious monster on the board. Because the bettor could be bluffing, or if he has a stronger hand we could improve our hand, or if we have a draw we could hit our draw. All good reasons not to fold.
In addition, if we have already put chips into the pot, in particular many chips, then folding is like a no contest conclusion to the battle, and we will probably never know if our hand was stronger or weaker. We just have to believe our opponent. But is not poker a game of bluff? What are the odds that the villain is bluffing?
These seemingly good reasons not to fold will cost you a lot of money in poker in the long run. On average, calling is the worse move that you can make, as the better moves are fold or raise. Of course you can call sometimes, but here the point is that not folding enough is a leak common to a lot of online poker players.
So the first lesson to learn is to fold a lot of hands in many different situations, even if this is not want you want to do. Playing tight in full ring NLHE usually means to have a VPIP around 15%, i.e. you fold 5 out of 6 hands pre flop. And then you also fold a lot of hands post flop.
When to fold in No-Limit Holdem Poker?
First, you should study which hands are worth playing preflop.
Folding depends on a lot of conditions so practice, practice and practice. Because it depends on the number of players at the table (heads-up, short-handed or full ring) and your position (early, middle, late, blinds). Plus many other factors such as the dynamics of the table and the action before you in the current hand.
Then there is a distinction between playing in a ring game and in a poker tournament. In a cash game, you should normally not fold if you have a +EV situation, i.e. a situation statistically profitable on average. For example if you have a nuts flush draw and 3 other players are already all in, you can call, as you will make money in the long run by acting this way.
But things are different in a multi table tournament. If your stack is relatively large and if the largest stack at the table raises you allin, then unless you have the absolute nuts, you are risking your tournament life. And it could be a better idea to fold and to wait for a better opportunity, such as getting allin versus a small stack when you do not take such risk.
Another common situation is when you have to fold a great hand such as a set when there is a flush risk or straight risk on the board. If your solid opponent who is normally quite and prudent becomes suddenly very aggressive on such a board, he is representing that he has the monster and is probably not stealing.
. This is tough, but this will save you a lot of money in your poker career.
Such situations that arise frequently are straight versus higher straight, flush versus higher flush or flush versus boat. Be very careful if you have the so-called idiot end of the straight. If you have a pair of fours on a board 56K78, be prudent against someone else holding a 9. Do not reraise in this type of situation as you are likely donating your chips away.
Think about folding as a sure small loss to protect from a potential big loss. There will always be a better opportunity sometime in the future, so fold now, preserve some chips and wait for the next monster. It does not matter if you are in a winning streak or a downswing, this is a general principle to apply constanty for profitable poker.