Take ad­van­tage of fold eq­uity when you can

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - POKER - By Chad Hol­loway

As a tour­na­ment re­porter, I have ob­served hun­dreds of thou­sands of poker hands. Most are mun­dane — the sort of hands I've seen play out over and over. How­ever, ev­ery so of­ten I'll bear wit­ness to a hand that sticks out, not nec­es­sar­ily be­cause it de­fies the odds but be­cause it im­parts a valu­able poker les­son.

Case in point: this hand from the 2018 Mid-States Poker Tour Grand Falls $1,100 Main Event, a tour­na­ment that drew 226 en­tries. The hand took place in Level 14 (1,200-2,400 blinds with an ante of 400), when Josh Sko­gen limped un­der the gun and Gary Ger­mann raised to 7,000 next to act. World Series of Poker bracelet win­ner Eric Ro­dawig called from the hi­jack seat, as did Demetrios Sen­gos from the cut­off.

Sko­gen called the raise and then led out for 15,000 on the 7c Jc 2s flop. Ger­mann and Sen­gos called, and Ro­dawig folded.

On the Ks turn, Sko­gen checked, and then Ger­mann im­me­di­ately moved all in for 62,300. Sen­gos folded what he later claimed was the nut flush draw. Sko­gen, sit­ting on a stack of 90,000, called with 10c 9c for a straight flush draw. Ger­mann tabled Qs Js for top pair with a flush draw.

The Kc river gave Sko­gen a win­ning flush, and Ger­mann hit the rail.

On its face, this hand seems fairly stan­dard, but a closer ex­am­i­na­tion sug­gests oth­er­wise. For ex­am­ple, no­tice that Sko­gen limped un­der the gun with suited con­nec­tors. This is rather un­ortho­dox, as most play­ers pre­fer to raise, which gives them fold eq­uity and strength­ens their per­ceived range (the hands with which they en­ter a pot).

By limp­ing, Sko­gen gave up his fold eq­uity — de­fined as the eq­uity a player gains when an op­po­nent folds to his or her bets — and did not de­fine his range, mean­ing his op­po­nents likely did not put him on a strong hand.

Like­wise, Sko­gen missed an op­por­tu­nity to cap­i­tal­ize on fold eq­uity on the turn. In­stead of mov­ing all in, which might have in­spired his two op­po­nents to fold and al­low him to pick up the pot with­out mak­ing his hand, Sko­gen checked and put him­self in a re­ac­tionary po­si­tion. He was no longer con­trol­ling the ac­tion and would soon be re­act­ing to Ger­mann's all-in shove.

As it hap­pened, Sko­gen was get­ting a good price to call off most of his stack, as­sum­ing all of his outs (i.e., the cards he needed to make a flush or a straight) were live. That's a big as­sump­tion though, as it was pos­si­ble that Ger­mann had a bet­ter flush draw. (Re­mem­ber: Sen­gos folded a bet­ter draw, so we know Sko­gen wasn't get­ting the right price to call.)

By giv­ing up his fold eq­uity, Sko­gen put him­self in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. He called off most of his stack with one card to come, and for­tu­nately for him, he got there. He took a rocky route to a good re­sult, but in this hand, there were smoother paths to vic­tory.

The les­son to be learned here is that when you have fold eq­uity, take ad­van­tage of it.

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