Recognizing When to Fold in Poker

Whether you play poker as a hobby or professionally, it’s important to recognize when to fold. This discipline can protect your bankroll, minimize losses, and increase overall profitability. In this article, you’ll learn how to identify and overcome cognitive biases that prevent you from folding when it’s profitable to do so.

In poker, your opponents can’t see your cards and therefore you’re working with incomplete information. Every action you take — whether it’s calling, raising, checking, or folding — gives away bits of information that your opponents can use to build a story about you. Sometimes this information lets them know you’re holding a strong hand, other times it tells them you have a weak hand.

The cards are dealt in a clockwise direction, and the players to the left of the dealer have to make a “blind” bet (hence the names small blind and big blind). Each player has an opportunity to act after this and can either call, raise, or fold. The later your position, the less risk you take on the hand and the more information you have to work with.

A straight contains 5 cards of consecutive rank, and a flush is any 5 cards of the same suit. A full house is 3 matching cards of one rank and 2 matching cards of another rank. A pair is two cards of the same rank, and a three of a kind is 3 matching cards of one rank.