Over the course of my online career I have tried many forms of poker with varying degrees of success. Some forms suited my personality and style while others didn’t. In fact I played full limit ring games for quite some time and it was only recently that I discovered that this form of the game did not suit my style of play at all. But the six handed games both limit and no limit have really been a blessing for me as they allow me to get into action far more often and staying out of action and retaining discipline through prolonged folding are not high on my list of strong points.
But over the coming weeks and months I would like to share with you some of my techniques and strategies that I use at this form of the game and hope that you can make them work for you also. In this article I am going to touch on the subject of calling raises be it from the blinds or from any other position with mediocre hands.
I see this quite often in the games that I play in and whenever I see this then I know that I have seen a leak and can beat the game if only theoretically. Of course there are different reasons for why certain players call raises but one of the primary ones is because the player has position and feels that he can take the pot away from the raiser when they “miss the flop with their ace king”. There is a name for this and it is called “fancy play syndrome”. We have all heard of it and once you get to a certain level then we have all probably been guilty of it to some extent.
I know that early in my career, I used to float players a lot more than what I do now just because I was trying too hard to outplay them. As soon as I corrected this flaw then my results rocketed. Do not get me wrong here, I still float players but it has become a far more deliberate and judgmental move now than doing it just to be fancy. The overwhelming majority of the time, solid poker will get the job done and on many occasions the money will come to you without you having to try too hard to prise it away.
But I see players calling raises in position against rocks with small stacks with speculative hands like suited connectors. Just what are these people trying to achieve? An opponents small stack cuts down on your implied odds immensely and if your opponent has a big pair or connects with the flop then you are not going to get them off the hand so why call the raise?
If I think that a player is getting out of line and is raising on a wide range then I will expand the range that I will get involved with but I still will not call even then….I will either fold or re-pot. It all comes down to your frequencies of making certain plays, the frequency of raising, re-raising, bluffing, folding, floating etc. In the days of Poker Tracker and Poker Office then many of your opponents are going to have a fairly broad range of statistics on you. So it is in your best interests to at least try and develop a style that makes it harder for your more observant opponents to pin a tag on you, either that or change sites on a regular basis.
Once you start to move away from what is the correct theoretical frequency for making certain plays then you are making it easier for opponents to assess your style. So even if I assess that someone is raising/stealing on a fairly wide range then I will still tend to be careful what hands I get involved with when looking to re-raise someone who is raising on a wide range. In the blinds then I will fold most of the time with junk and mediocre hands as playing hands out of position is just not profitable in most situations in no limit hold’em. In fact if many players just simply folded mediocre hands either with or without position to raises then more players would be winning poker players.
Of course if you happen to find yourself in some low stakes games that are quite passive then you could speculate a bit more by calling more often with speculative hands and especially if you are getting implied odds and there are players on the table who have the capacity to get all in too frequently but in the games that I play in then multi-way pots are about as common as a white Christmas.
The overwhelming majority of the time, my poker sessions involve hand after monotonous hand of playing nothing other than solid poker. Then sooner or later somebody will make an error that will cost them their entire stack either because they have lost discipline or over estimated their hand or the speeded up time frame put them under too much pressure or whatever. But that makes my earn rate simply because I have not been leaking money away doing things like calling raises with mediocre hands and floating too much trying to be cute.
I hope that this article has proved instructive and hope to see you soon on the forum.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson can also be found playing free poker