The Art of Folding
When playing poker, either online or live, knowing when to fold your hand is one of the key elements that will increase your wealth. For as many times as you fold your hand, only to see the card drawn on the river that would have completed the flush or straight, there will be many times more when it was the correct decision to make.
Professional poker players will conform that folding in poker is neither a sign of weakness nor an indication that you are a gutless player. Indeed the opposite can be true, as it takes bravery and experience to acknowledge that the right option is to fold, and many new players often follow one of two paths – either folding too soon, or being so committed in a hand that they feel obliged to go all the way to the river. Through application and discipline it is possible to learn the right time to fold and save your stack for another opportunity, without regretting that you threw your cards in too early.
For guidelines about when to fold and when to call/bet, you need to consider your position within the dynamics of the table. In NL and PL games you have to discern whether the people you are playing with are tight or loose, and how many outs you have. In FL poker, you may be able to proceed a little further to catch the right card, but if you are able to calculate your odds of winning and the value of your hand against the pot, you are more likely to avoid a potentially suicidal chase to the river.
Only experience can teach you the correct calls. If you keep changing your strategies, and making yourself hard to read, other players may not be too sure about betting into you, and this will allow you to get into winning positions more economically. One function that you should avoid using online is the pre-set “Check/Fold” button, as frequent use of this facility is advertising to the rest of the table that when you do not fold, you are holding something of value.
The important consideration is how will making a risky call affect your chip stack. In cash games, a win is always welcome, but will losing a bad call take you out of a game that hitherto you have been performing well in? The same applies to tournament play where the “He who folds and runs away, lives to fold another day!”
Ultimately, rely on common sense and gut feelings, understand the odds of winning and learn when to fold through experience.