Calling your opponents raises pre-flop

There has been a large volume of data written in the past few years regarding the topic of whether or not you should call or three bet with marginal hands in no limit deep stacked ring games. If you cannot decide whether or not three betting or indeed folding is the better play then calling is usually the correct option. This is where many of the poker playing population shout up and say that calling cannot possibly be correct. They quote reasons why calling cannot win the pot pre-flop. They also say that calling does not wrestle the initiative like three betting does.

Looking to play post flop poker

They may even quote the old saying “a raiser be, a caller never be”. These all seem like valid reasons on the surface and if you have a hand like 10d-9d for example on the button and the cut-off raises frequently then three betting is not a bad option…..but is it the best option? If you only look at the reasons to do with not being able to win the pot pre-flop by calling and not being able to wrestle the initiative pre-flop then you are guilty of looking at a poker hand as if it is only played pre-flop.

What about winning the pot post flop on the flop, turn or river? What about wrestling the initiative post-flop on the flop, turn or river? Many people see calling as weak in heads up situations but calling is only weak if your follow up strategies are weak also. A quick example will show you what I mean here. The hijack makes it .50 to go in NL100 ring and you call with the 3c-3d on the button with both blinds folding. The flop comes 9c-8d-4s and your opponent makes a .50 c-bet into the .50 pot and you fold. Now folding isn’t a bad poker play here but if you only ever call the pre-flop raise with a fit or fold mentality then you are playing weak poker. Now let us compare this with a player who makes the same pre-flop call but then raises the flop to .

Selective aggression is still key

This is clearly a far different play and a huge difference in lines. Not only that but it also shows a huge difference in poker philosophy as well. If the initial raiser has say A-10 then he is struggling to continue and will fold fearing an already escalating pot. Clearly then one is strong poker while the other is weak but yet both players played the same way pre-flop. The second player switched to plan B on the flop when he missed his set. Once upon a time you could guarantee good implied odds on your drawing type hands like suited connectors and pocket pairs but those days are gone now at most decent levels. So you need to go after fold equity and what is called “dead money” far more aggressively if you want to succeed in the modern world of online poker.