You don’t want to be a call­ing sta­tion

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - Showtime - Palm Beach - - POKER - By Jonathan Lit­tle

You should never play poker in a way that al­lows op­po­nents to eas­ily cat­e­go­rize you. One of the least flat­ter­ing ways to be cat­e­go­rized is as a “call­ing sta­tion” — a player who calls nearly ev­ery bet (even with mar­ginal hands) and rarely raises or folds. This hand from a $1/$1 no-limit cash game is a good ex­am­ple of why you don’t want to be a call­ing sta­tion.

The first two play­ers at a nine-handed ta­ble called $1, and then our Hero, sit­ting in third po­si­tion, raised to $25 with 9s 9c.

While rais­ing both for value and pro­tec­tion is a fine play, when you raise to $25 in this sit­u­a­tion (a gi­gan­tic raise), you force your op­po­nents to fold al­most all worse hands un­less they are ex­treme call­ing sta­tions. You make money when your op­po­nents make mis­takes. If they fold most of their in­fe­rior hands and con­tinue with Hero’s hand: most of their su­pe­rior hands, they are play­ing well. In­stead of blast­ing it, Hero should have raised to $6. That way, many worse hands would be en­cour­aged to call.

The player on the but­ton called, and then a no­tably tight player reraised to $75 from the big blind. The limpers folded, and Hero de­cided to call.

At this point, Hero should have known that he was al­most cer­tainly up against pocket 10s or bet­ter, or per­haps ace-king. Pocket nines fare quite poorly against this range, and Hero wasn’t get­ting the cor­rect im­plied odds to call in Flop: or­der to try to make a set. He’d need at least 10-1 odds, and he was not quite get­ting that price, so he should have folded. While it is never fun to raise and then have to fold with­out see­ing the flop, it is of­ten the right play.

The other caller folded. The flop came Kh 7d 3c. The op­po­nent bet $125. Hero called.

Just as he should have be­fore the flop, Hero should have folded here. If you think back to the op­po­nent’s likely pre­flop three­bet­ting range, Hero would lose to es­sen­tially all of it on this flop.

The turn was the Ks. The Turn: op­po­nent pushed all in for $225. Hero made a cry­ing call, know­ing at this point that he was most likely go­ing to lose a lot of chips.

While the king on the turn was good for Hero be­cause it made it less likely that his op­po­nent held A-K, Hero would still lose to pocket pairs that were over­played by an op­po­nent obliv­i­ous to the fact that Hero should only call off his stack with kings or pre­mium pairs.

Do not feel that you must call sim­ply be­cause you have al­ready in­vested a sub­stan­tial amount of your chips. If you lose to al­most ev­ery hand in your op­po­nent’s range and you have rel­a­tively few outs to im­prove, you are not pot-com­mit­ted when you are get­ting 3-1 pot odds, be­cause you will only win about 10 per­cent of the time.

Sure enough, the op­po­nent was over­play­ing pocket jacks, and he won a huge pot when the river blanked. While the op­po­nent made a sub­stan­tial er­ror by tak­ing his hand that far, Hero made an even big­ger one by be­ing a call­ing sta­tion.

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