When money isn’t enough to force a fold

Poker player folding

The modern game dynamic of No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games dictates that fold equity dominates hand equity because so few hands are going to showdown. When players become more sophisticated and start to realise the width of their aggressive opponents ranges and the fact that they could be bluffing then the balance switches back towards pot equity again because players begin calling down lighter with hands that can beat bluffs. However further down the scale then we need to know if our opponent is going to fold or not because this has a huge impact on our ability to bluff.

Even in full ring games then the number of players seeing the flop these days fall somewhere around the 25% mark. This means that many pots are both heads up and 3-way most of the time. So this then means that unless a player makes a hand worth playing post flop (mathematically unlikely) or has a big hand pre-flop (mathematically unlikely) then the chances of them seeing a showdown are restricted. In fact many of the so called strong hands that are dealt pre-flop shrink massively in value with the arrival of further board cards.

So bluffing becomes a pivotal part of our strategy and forms an integral part of our earn rate. So it is clearly in our interests to know whether there is a strong possibility of whether or not we can win this pot without going to a showdown. Unfortunately there is no substitute here for hand reading skill and having position helps us here as well. We need to be aware of the times when for whatever reason our opponent simply will not fold. In the modern game dynamic of online poker then average stack sizes are shallower when compared to a live game of similar stakes.

A combination of buy-in restrictions with most online card rooms and much shorter sessions cause this. Also if you are playing low stakes then the monetary value itself isn’t great and sometimes based on shallower stacks and low monetary value then your opponent will simply decide not to fold. This could be to do with their hand strength (whatever that is) or because they are riding a rush or tilting from losses or simply because they do not believe you and are curious to see what you have. By monetary value I mean the actual dollar value and not the number of big blinds.

You may think that 90bb is a lot to lose playing top pair top kicker but if it is a $10 maximum buy-in game and your opponent views it as $9 and not 90bb then they may just have a “what the hell” attitude and decide to stick it in. So they end up playing correctly by default against your bluff.

So it is vitally important for aggressive players or players that are looking to take aggressive lines to know if their opponent is likely to fold. As a rule of thumb then if your opponent places money into the pot for a third time in the hand then they are very unlikely to fold. This could be a 3/bet pre-flop and flop bet or a pre-flop call followed by calls on the flop and turn or a pre-flop call followed by a flop raise and so on. Remember that a raise is two actions which are call and raise and not just one action.

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