I play a lot of full ring No-Limit Hold’em and these days it is difficult to prize money out of many games. Players know about position, hand strength, steal raising, 3-betting against stealers and even 4-betting. Many players at even moderate levels like $0.25-$0.50 games have a good grasp of many of the poker fundamentals. So, making money is almost like pulling teeth at times and can be a long drawn out process. It is a common misconception that you should strive to play mistake-free poker… this is an exercise in futility.
How can it be possible to play mistake-free poker when poker is a game of incomplete information? You cannot see your opponent’s cards and so you will always find yourself in situations where you will fold the best hand or call with the worst hand. If your opponent bets with 9c-9d on a Qh-10s-4c board and you fold As-3s then you have folded the worst hand. However, if you could see your opponent’s cards then you have almost certainly made a mistake. The best play would be to raise your opponent because he simply doesn’t have a hand that can take any kind of heat.
So, you are always going to make mistakes in poker because you cannot see what your opponent has. What you should be trying to do is to force your opponent into putting as much money into the pot as possible and then have them fold. The concept of fold equity is one that you will need to learn and then make use of if you want to become a successful poker player. Both you and your opponent will have an equity share of the pot. However, the best players capture as much of their opponents equity as possible!
For example, if it has been folded around to the cut-off and they open raise with a hand like As-Kc and you call on the button with the 7d-6h then the equity share of the pot assuming both blinds fold is 61.50% for your opponent and 31.50% for you. If the flop comes 10s-3c-2d then your opponent’s equity share rises to around 75%. While it may be correct to fold in this instance if your opponent bets, the fact of the matter is that you should be looking to capture as much of your opponent’s 75% as possible.
If we change the 2d to the 4d which gives you a gutshot straight draw then your equity is around 38% to the 62% of your opponent. If they bet and you raise and they fold, 80% of the time then you have captured 80% of your opponents 62% which makes raising very profitable for you.
When your opponents have an equity share of the pot then you should often strive to make them fold it if that equity share is substantial and higher than yours. Many hands in poker can have very good equity and yet not be able to withstand heat and this is a prime example. The A-K had 75% equity in the first scenario on the flop but yet couldn’t really stand up to a flop raise. So making your opponents make errors is key to being able to beat online poker.