When to Fold

As a strategy in the game of poker, any poker player must first learn when to fold and at which point to fold. This particular strategy is a very important one in the long term of playing poker and once mastered increases the probability of the player winning the game and very often will lead to favorable results.

Also, as a poker strategy, one should stick to the premium hands on the pre-flop, especially if one is still on the learning curve of the game and does not have much experience at playing the game of poker. The major mistake some poker players commit is to play many hands. It is better to learn quickly to choose hands and it must always be kept in mind that if a player folds pre-flop, that does not cost him any money. Most of the poker players loose their patience and do not wait for great hands forcing with average hands. When a poker player plays only good starting hands such as A/A, Q/Q, K/K, A/K, it makes other players think that he is a steady player. This impression that he is tight player can be used by a player to bluff few hands at later stages in a game.

Hence, one should not hesitate to fold, but at the right juncture. A player should not assume that if he folds, he has lost. In fact, by folding he is saving his chips so that he can play the next game. A poker player loses only when his opponents win all his money and when he folds correctly, he is minimizing his chances of losing all his money.

The decision whether to fold or not is generally made pre-flop wherein the player has two cards and he must take a decision whether to fold or play. In an imaginary situation, assume that a player is playing against eight other opponents in low limit Texas Hold'em. This particular player picks up 10/Q. Now, three of the opponents call the action. This player thinks 10/Q is not that bad and throws his bet of $0.50 in the pot. Suppose the last opponent to play raises the bet to $1. At this juncture, this player thinks it will be a costly affair at that price to see a flop and decides to fold, thus loosing $0.50. What he should have done is to fold right away, that is pre-flop. By doing so, he would have saved that amount so as to play next game. It is best option to fold when a player cannot match a further raise in the hand.

Of course, this does not mean that the player can never play this hand. There are situations when it can be played. This situation arises when one is on big blind. In this scenario, the player has paid the blinds and is in a position to see the flop with no more monetary addition to the pot. Hence, he should go for this hand. He could be lucky and could even manage a straight. He can also go for poor hands when the game has only few players left, say three instead of eight, because 10/Q turns into better hand in this case.

A player's pre-flop folding choice makes difference between losing and winning. So, instead of taking the risk of loosing on marginal hands, he can save that money and use it when he has great hand.

The decision to fold can also be taken on turn. Assume a player calls the turn, then he should call the river as he will suffer heavily if he folds the winning hand on the river. Making a call on turn and river means that the player is investing two large bets which is equivalent to four small bets. Assume that the pot was increased pre-flop and only one bet is then made post-flop. In this case, he would have more likely invested only three bets so as to see the turn. Thus, he can fold on turn, albeit he may lose less as compared to calling to a showdown.

Hence, one should not fold at river with the exception when one misses a draw as small flush draw or in a situation when there is lot of betting and raising which makes the player feel that he is beat.

It can be concluded that the best time to fold is at pre-flop and at turn but not at river, as that may lead to heavy loss if a hand on river is a winning hand.

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