I call

by PokerAnon ~ February 6th, 2011. Filed under: Instructional posts, Poker psychology, Project: bet, raise, or fold.


Afraid to raise? Don’t want to fold? Just call. This is how the thinking of a beginner poker player goes.

Intense Poker

Here are some of the problems with raising the bet:

  • Two out of three times that you have unpaired cards (like Ace-King) you will miss the flop. Now what?
  • When you hold two Queens, a higher card (Ace or a King) will come on the flop 41% of the time. (With JJ at least one higher card flops 57% of the time, with TT 69%, 99 = 79%, with KK an Ace flops 23%). Now what?
  • You hold AA, raise, and everyone folds. What a waste! You might as well have had 72.

Here are some of the worries about folding:

  • Any Ace could be the winning hand, even against a pair of Kings
  • When you have two cards of the same suit, you might miss your flush if you fold
  • Remember when you folded 96 and the flop came with two 6s and you missed your set of 6s? Or the flop came 875 and you missed your straight?

So most beginners are afraid to raise and are also afraid to fold preflop. So they call. And they call a lot.

Calling can be a good choice, but in limited situations. If you call a raise in late position with AQ, the flop is A92 and the preflop raiser bets out, there is no reason to fold. You have top pair with a good kicker. But there’s also not much reason to raise. You are losing if your opponent has 99 or 22 or A9/A2 or AK which is a small percentage of his possible hands. You are ahead if he has any other Ace hand or a hand like KK/QQ/JJ/TT, and if these are one of his hands he has very few cards that will make his hand beat yours, so there is no reason to risk making him fold by raising. The exception might be a very bad player who will not fold any time he pairs his Ace. In that case build the pot by raising, but that is an exception. Folding is out of the question, raising may chase away or shut down hands that we are beating, so calling is a good option.

~

The tendency to call too much is pretty well known. What I wanted to look at is another effect of that attitude.

You should bet or fold almost all of your hands preflop. If you don’t think that your hand is good enough to raise, then fold! From early and mid position at a 7 – 10 player table, your choices should look something like this:

Preflop - early and mid positions


Don’t call because you are afraid to raise and afraid to fold. This is particularly bad in late position. In late position after someone else raises you might re-raise occasionally and call occasionally. But most of the time you should still fold.

Preflop - Mid and late positions behind a raise

But when no one plays and you are in late position it’s a different matter. Say you have A2 or 55 or 86 as the dealer and everyone else has folded. None of these are great hands but they’re not awful either, and there are only two players left, plus if they call you will have position on them on the flop, turn and river. Don’t just call; raise. There’s far too much “I’m afraid to raise, but I might hit something. I’ll just call”, thinking. Calling is the fallback between the two actions that the beginner can’t bring themselves to take. They’re afraid to raise, they can’t bring themselves to fold.

In late position when no one has opened the range of hands that you should raise should be wide and the call range should shrink close to zero. The only times that you might want to call are rare, like one of the players in the blinds are aggressive and you expect them to raise. Then you might choose to just call big hands to try to trap.

Preflop - Late position with no players

So first consider raising. If the cards or your position are not good enough, then fold. There are times that you should call, but try to eliminate it from your choices because your tendency will be to call far too often.

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