Understanding fold equity is the first step toward becoming a winning poker player. Passive players have no shot at winning a poker tournament. Overly aggressive players don't fare well either. There's a fine line between genius and psychotic. Sometimes I cross that line...
Last weekend I was playing a $350 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open event with a $500K guarantee. I was midway through day two with 90 of the 2,692 entrants remaining. The table was nine-handed and the blinds were 10K/20K with a 3K ante.
It folded around to the hijack (298K) who opened to 45K. The cutoff, button, and small blind folded. I was in the big blind with 600K. Getting better than 4:1 odds to continue, I chose to defend with 9♦8♦. The flop was Q♦J♠3♣. I checked and Villain c-bet 40K into 127K.
This is one of the rare circumstances where leading, check-folding, check-calling, check-raising, and check-shoving are all viable options. At this point I had three reads...
The hijack was opening a tighter range with 15 big blinds.
The hijack was c-betting close to 100% of his range on this board.
The hijack didn't double-barrel much.
Given these assumption I think...
Leading the flop intending to shove Tx and diamond turns is marginally profitable because it exposes my equity to floats and shoves.
Check-raising or check-shoving is slightly more profitable because it doesn't expose my equity to floats and shoves.
Check-calling is the most profitable line because it allows me to gather more information, realize most of my pot equity, and maximize fold equity on later streets.
When Villain offers me better than 4:1 odds to call AND rarely double-barrels, I'm basically getting direct odds to call. If I see a river, I will...
Make a straight 16.5% of the time.
Backdoor a flush 4.2% of the time.
Make a pair 24.1% of the time.
Backdoor two pair or trips 1.5% of the time.
Of course, there are contingencies here. Villain has to check the turn, my hand has to improve, and I have to win at showdown. I definitely couldn't capture all my equity BUT there were several ways for me to steal the pot on turns and rivers. My plan was to...
Check-fold on blank run outs.
Check-shove on Tx turns.
Shove diamond turns.
Check-pray with pairs.
Check-call 9-8 run outs.
Shove Tx, diamond-diamond, 9-9, and 8-8 run outs.
Shove non-Ax/Kx run outs.
The turn was the 4♦. I chose to stick to the plan and shove 213K into 207K. If I had no chance of improving, I would need Villain to fold 51% of the time to breakeven. But since I picked up a bigger draw with aggregate equity of roughly 27% versus Villain's calling range, I only needed Villain to fold about 17% of the time.
Basically, this play is marginally profitable if Villain ever c-bets the flop with ace-high and folds the turn to my shove. If he ever folds a pair, this play is extremely profitable. Unfortunately, Villain called with K♥Q♣ and I lost. Such is life.
Maybe my reads were wrong. Maybe I could've taken a better line. Maybe I just ran into a hand. There's a lot of uncertainty in poker. I try not to worry too much about spots like this as long as my thought process is crisp. Regardless, I'm interested to hear what you have to say. Feel free to comment and share below. Good luck at the tables!