Breakeven Fold Frequency in Poker – What is it?!

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This is a simpler concept to understand than Pot Odds, but I am still surprised that a lot of players have problems in this area, yet it’s so useful that you can’t really survive in the poker world at higher limits without understanding the concept.

BFF short for Breakeven Fold Frequency is represented by a percent.(and it should be your BFF from now on!). Whenever you’re playing Texas Hold’em, there’s a sum of money on the table, that is always up for grabs, be it blinds, antes, or the pot postflop, It’s very important to understand that, if you bet a certain amount, there will be a percentage that if your opponent(s) fold above it, you’re making what’s called auto-profit (profit without equity).

Let me give you an abstract example, first of all.

You’re in your worst nightmare, you’re sitting at a poker table and there’s 9900$ in the pot in the middle, and you’re on the river. The board ran out AKQJ5 with four spades and a disamond down there. You’re not really sure what you have, and you look under your palm that was covering the cards very convincingly up to now, and find with great stupor that you’re actually not holding any cards, but no one saw you. Furthermore, the pot being so big, you only have a 500$ chip left. How did you ever get into this weird situation? What kind of flawed thought process or sick game is this? Furthermore, the opponent in front of you seems to be having a WSOP bracelet on his wrist. This is one of the most horrific situations ever, and you are pondering here if you should invest your last 500$ chip or not.

Well, the board did run out pretty scary for a lot of two pair, and if your opponent doesn’t have a spade or at least a straight in his hand, then it’s very hard for him to call. A lot of two pair will be dreading this board and lamenting here, so you decide to push the 500$ chip in and announce the fact that you are All In. Your opponent blabbers something in a foreign “dream” language that you couldn’t possibly understand, but you’re tough as a statue. He keeps mumbling and then quickly folds his hand. You fistpump the air and scoop the 10.400$ total pot, get up and leave the room. After you catch your breath, you ask yourself “What actually happened in there?”

Now, being the excellent poker players that we are, we play really well even in our dreams, we assessed his range and figured it’s worth the risk of 500$ to win the 10.4k pot.

But how many hands do we need our opponent to fold in order to make this a profitable bet?

Here comes the formula you’ve been waiting for your whole poker career (If you don’t know it yet, of course):

BFF=Amount invested / Amount total to be won

Looks exactly like Pot Odds, right? Well remember that here we are betting and our opponent is not calling.

Thus, in our particular case, we bet 500$ to win a total pot of 9900$+ our 500$ back = 10400$.

This will result in a BFF of 500/10400=~5%

Notice the ~ sign. ~ means approximately. =~ means approximately equal to. I used this terminology and will be using it throughout the book, first of all to not clog you up with data like 4.8076 and second of all to make you understand that approximations in poker are really good and speed up the pace as long as they are at least mildly accurate. They will really speed up your thought process and make you think faster and make more efficient decisions, and ultimately play more tables and make more bank/hr.

So, after you wake up you immediately calculate the BFF of your shove and figure it was a really alright shove because you only needed 5% fold equity to make it profitable. Maybe. But maybe your opponent wasn’t folding absolutely any hand for 500$ more into such a big pot. You have to look for both sides of the coin here. For example, if you bet 33% pot on some flops, you will get called a lot wider than if you bet 50% or 66%.

Now that you can understand this notion, let’s see how you can apply it at the tables.

First of all, let’s talk about bet sizes.

You opened the BTN with 89 of spades and the BB called, and now the flop comes AcKd2h. There’s no equity for you in here. This is not your flop and this is not your day. Furthermore, there’s not even a spade down there to cling to, you have absolutely nothing and you can’t even win with high card, because your cards are low.

First of all I really want you to remember the ways you can make money in poker:

  1. Getting called by worse
  2. Folding better
  3. Denying equity(for example betting AdKc4s with 66 so that you can fold his 89 of spades which has decent equity versus your hand)
  4. BFF – knowing in which spots your opponent folds too much and exploiting those exact spots.

Now, let’s try to figure out our opponent’s calling range pre-flop. He is a 24/20/7 so this means that vs your BTN open he’s probably going to be 3-betting something like 99+/AQ+ and some suited aces and connectors probably, and the occasional weird bluff.

Second, you have to be smart when assessing your opponent’s calling range pre-flop.

A BB vs BTN calling range will probably contain a lot more broadways and suited hands than a BTN vs EP, for example.

Remember that BFF says that if you bet half pot you only need your opponent to fold 33% of his total range that he got there with at that point for you to be making profit without cards.

To be honest, this is an amazing board to bluff vs a BB call because it’s extremely scary. Our range hits this board really hard. Even if we don’t actually have anything, there’s a high chance that we’re going to be given strong credibility on this flop and we are going to get a lot of folds from our opponent. Imagine 66 on this board. They have 2 outs, any overcard is bad which is more than half the deck, and he only has two outs to beat you if you’re not bluffing. That’s a really bad situation if you ask me!

You’re going to be getting a lot of folds from pocket pairs, suited connectors, gappers, two-gappers, off-suit broadways that don’t connect and that’s really enough. That’s way more than 33%.

Do you like this way of thinking? I LOVE IT!

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