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UNFOLD Poker and Board Texture
We have all felt that pang of remorse as the flop crashes down with two sevens and a four while your 74o, which you correctly folded, lies sadly in the muck. One guy is betting, the other is raising. At showdown, the weaker player's KK is decimated by the crafty regular's 87s. If only your full house could ascend from the muck and take down a nice side pot. Well, with Pokerstars' new Unfold variant of No Limit Holdem, it can!

In this game, there is an obligatory ante posted by all players at the start of each hand, in addition to the small and big blinds. These antes form a side pot, which creates a lucrative incentive to dig those folded cards out and play by investing a pot-sized bet. All folded cards have the option to 'Unfold' and pay a one off price to see the remaining community cards and go to showdown.
 
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As with any new game, players are likely to react very differently to the exciting unfamiliar territory that comes with these new rules. One player might have very strict standards and Unfold only two pair or better, while another might fancy his chances with any piece of the flop. Whether or not to unfold your cards will depend on a solid understanding of hand equities, but also the likelihood of the other players unfolding with certain strengths of hand.


PokerStars Unfold Introduced As Newest Online Poker Variant

Unfortunately, this player specific information will not always be available. You may be new to the table and your opponents will come and go like the wind. So here is a guide on how to evaluate Unfolding in the context of board texture – a factor that is completely standard across all tables. Understanding how the flop relates to common folded hands is surely central to success in this fascinating new game.

Dry High Flops: Hard to Connect, examples: ( / / or )

A dry flop is one that does not offer too many ways to connect. A high one is simply one containing one or more large cards.

There are a few interesting points to note about these flop textures in Unfold. Firstly, the players in the main pot are likely to hold the cards that connect with these flops relatively frequently. After all, they chose to voluntarily enter the main pot pre-flop and will desire larger cards with which to make larger pairs to do so. This is especially true for players who have raised in earlier position or 3-bet before the flop. We can say that the large cards on these flops are blocked by the ranges that the players in the main pot have chosen to play. This leaves less top pair available for your fellow potential Unfolders. They will have missed the flop quite often, or at least will struggle to have too much top pair with a decent kicker in their ranges. Starting hands that could have flopped such a hand cards might well not have folded in the first place.

This means that the Unfold pot can be stolen or attacked quite easily on dry high flop textures, but beware, if your opponents also know this, they might be unfolding on these types of flop with some quite speculative hands! If you are lucky enough to have folded a hand containing an Ace or a King on these flops, you in fact, have a fairly rare and powerful Unfold hand.

Medium Semi-Wet Flops: Be Careful, examples: ( / / or )

These are flops that offer more ways to connect with the average hand, including the ability to draw to flushes and/or straights.

Such flops are far more accessible to the average folding hand. Many of the hands players choose to fold pre-flop are not entirely hopeless, but are too weak to enter the pot from the position they found themselves in on that occasion. On the first flop, there is a possible array of offsuit Jx hands such as KJo, QJo, JTo etc. lying in the muck. The Jack is much easier for the potential Unfolders to connect with than the Ace was in the flops above.

On the second flop, it is very possible to have fluked a straight with 97o and the folded cards are actually more likely to hold such a hand than the players in the main pot. Two pair combinations are also very possible. How often have you laid down hands like 86o, T8o and T6o pre-flop? On the third flop, any two junky diamonds can make a flush draw for an Unfolder, but how lucrative is it to Unfold with draws?

Flush draws make very sensible Unfolds indeed. The reason for this is that in Unfold, an Unfolder gets to see all of the remaining cards for just one pot sized bet. This means an Unfolder is either taking down the side pot when no one else unfolds (very profitable indeed!) or is getting 2:1 or better on his money depending on how many others Unfold. A flush draw will usually have 40% equity or more against other unfolding hands as long as it avoids being dominated by other draws. Unfolding a hand with many outs to the nuts is a sure way to get rich. To put it simply, draws go up in value in Unfold as they cannot get blown out of the pot and miss their chance to get there.



Medium semi-wet flops offer a lot of draws and some random nutted hands. They should be unfolded on more carefully than the flops above and it will be much harder to steal the Unfold pot on these textures. Of course, poker always brings mind games to the table. Some opponents may know this and Unfold too selectively, once again giving you the option to steal the pot lighter. If you have a little gutshot draw and backdoor flush draw to go with your hand, then unfolding as a semi-bluff might be very profitable on these boards.

Low Flops: An UNFOLDER's Paradise, examples: ( / / or )

The cards that connect with these flops are the cards that hit the muck the most frequently. In No Limit Holdem, all it takes is one raggedy card to ruin a starting hand and so these cards end up folded in the vast majority of hands they are dealt. The only way the 4c gets played is when it has another 4 with it or perhaps a suited ace or five. This creates a huge amount of combinations of these low cards waiting to Unfold.

It follows that, on these flops, we must be very hesitant to unfold as a bluff, especially without outs to draw out on made hands. Your fellow Unfolders will wake up with one pair very often in these situations and so you can expect a lot of action if you are lucky enough to have flopped a straight or two pair with your folded hand.

Take the third flops for example: if there are 7 folded hands, that makes 14 folded cards. If there are still two 6s left in the decks, (and there usually will be due to a pre-flop raiser or caller's hesitance to play a hand containing a six), then one or more of the 7 folded hands will contain a six around half of the time! We can calculate this by looking at the probability of each player NOT holding a 6 and multiplying them all together and then subtracting from 100%. This imminent danger makes for very strict requirements for what should be unfolded on such low flops.

Conclusion

Unfold is a fascinating game in which understanding the nature of a flop can unearth the correct strategy as to how aggressive we should be. We should conclude by noting that even though lower boards and wetter boards offer more ways of connecting, No Limit Holdem is still a game where most hands miss most flops. When there are only a small handful of potential Unfolders at the table, or when your hand offers some way of improving to a strong hand, stealing is still very much on the agenda.
 
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