You don’t want to be a calling station
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.