My natural reaction to flopping a big hand is to reraise any bet immediately. Not only aggressive in my play, my aggressive temperament can often lead to extremely poor table etiquette from me after being outdrawn, so I prefer to take every opportunity to ensure this doesn’t happen.
However after seeing people get paid off big time with big hands, by simply calling, I’m rethinking my strategy. Most of this rethinking is currently happening on the rail after being called and knocked out by said monster hands – and I can’t even have a smoke now while I cool off!
You see my problem is if a player simply calls me my big mistake is to assume they are behind. I have a sneaking suspicion they might just have worked this out…
I still stand by the “Raise don’t call” theory as it puts my opponent to the test. He has to decide if his hand really is good enough and quite often a player will fold what may have been the better hand, or call with a weaker hand therefore paying me off.
Having said that, there are situations where calling your hand can pay dividends rather than stopping the action there and then with a reraise – or even busting out.
If you have a nut draw against a large field of callers raise every time. If however there’s only a couple of people in the pot and you know a reraise won’t make them fold, then call. This allows you to see another card if you believe raising won’t take the pot down or may even result in a jaw dropping re-raise that forces you out of the pot.
Calling can let you complete your hand on the cheap and can often get you paid off big time with a nice trap-check if the river’s flowing your way.
Those rare situations where you flop the nuts on the blind are always worth flat calling, with the aim of deceiving your opponent into thinking you’re drawing and getting him to part with more of his chips should the turn look like no help to a chaser.
For instance, an early raise of three times the big blind may get called by four players before you, giving you the odds to call any two cards on the big blind. So when a raggy flop of 7 7 2 gives you a full house, you know it’s your night. Obviously the initial raiser will bet his hand out, the second you raise on the blind he knows you have a 7 and you won’t get a penny more. However, there may be a couple of callers before you who have big cards they’re not prepared to put down on that flop – call to let them think you still need to hit.
When the turn shows a 5 – no help to anyone – try a little re-raise: the raiser may still prove unwilling to lay down his pair and pay you off on the river, or you may take the pot down there and then, either way you’ve increased your chip stack more than you could have done by re-raising on the flop.
Don’t ignore the benefits of calling, but only for the right reasons – there’s nothing worse than a pure calling station who hasn’t considered odds, outs or his opponent’s hand. Call only in a scenario where you think it might work out more profitable to do so at that stage, and reap the rewards.
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