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Gaming Guru

 

Texas Hold'em A to Z: C Is for Calling

27 November 2010

Calling is putting money in the pot to match a bet that has been made before your turn to act. In Texas Hold'em, two blinds are posted at the beginning of the hand by the two players to the left of the dealer button. The small blind puts up a half bet and the big blind posts a full bet. These are live bets and in order to play your two starting hands you must call the blinds and any other raises that are made before the action gets to you.

The most important decision a player will make in Texas Hold'em is which starting hands to play. Whether or not you enter a hand will depend on several important considerations. These are: the strength of your hand, your position, how many players have entered the pot, and if the pot was raised in front of you. Unfortunately, the number one reason that players lose money is they play too many hands, meaning they call too much.

Hold'em is a positional game. You need a stronger hand to call from an earlier position than you do from later position. (Read that sentence again if you are new to the game.) The expression "limping in" is used when you enter the pot by just calling the blind bet. If you limp in from an early position, you have to take into account that a player may raise the pot after you. If this happens, you have to call the raise, fold or re-raise. In low limit games, most players will call the raise rather than fold once they enter the pot. In deciding whether to play a hand, you should ask yourself if you are willing to call if the pot is raised. If it is a marginal hand, you may want to dump it instead of calling. In a later position you will have more information about your opponents and the possible strengths of their hands.

Cold Calling

If the pot is raised before it is you turn to act, you will have to call the original bet and the raise. This is known as cold calling. If the pot were re-raised before it is your turn to act, you would have to cold call three bets in order to enter the pot. Unless you have a very powerful hand, you should not cold call any raises. You need a stronger hand to call a raise than you do to initiate one. If you have to cold call three bets you better have an extremely strong hand, like a pair of Aces or Kings or Ace-Kings suited because you can pretty much figure that the player who re-raised has a strong hand as well.

Calling the Flop

The flop defines your hand. That is because after the flop your hand will be 71 percent complete. After seeing the flop, you should use the Fit or Fold criteria for deciding whether or not to call a bet. If the flop fits your hand, go ahead and continue. For the flop to fit your hand it should improve your hand by giving you a pair, a two pair set, or better, or give you a good draw such as a four-card flush or open-ended straight.

Sometimes the flop brings nothing. If you started with a big pocket pair and nothing comes on the board, you may still have the best hand. In this case the flop the flop fits your hand.

If there is no fit you should fold rather than call a bet. If there is a raise you will have to read the board carefully. Even if the flop helped your hand, you may not want to call a raise if there are three suited cards or the board is paired and you have only a marginal hand.

Calling the Turn

If you get to the Turn and you hold only two unsuited overcards (two cards higher that any cards on the board) with no flush or straight draw, then you should fold if there is a bet in front of you. Too much money is lost by players who hope to catch a miracle card on the river. The best hand you can make with two unsuited overcards is a pair, which will probably lose anyway.

If another player raises on the turn and you hold only one pair, you are more than likely beaten and should fold. Unless you determine they are on a draw, then you may want to call. This is where learning to read the board is so important. But players don't usually raise on the turn without a hand.

Calling the River

When you get to the river there are two mistakes that you can make. One is to call a losing bet, which will cost you the price of a bet. The other is to fold your hand, which will cost you all the money in the pot. Obviously, folding your hand will be a far more costly mistake then merely calling a bet. If there is a slight chance you may have the winning hand, you should call. I'm not advocating calling with nothing, but you should call if there is a chance to win.

You won't win every time you call, but if you are selective with the hands you play the majority of your calls will be profitable.

Until next time, remember: "Luck comes and goes...Knowledge Stays Forever!"

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

> More Books By Bill Burton

Bill Burton
Bill Burton is a gambling expert and best-selling author of Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em and 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets. He is the former Casino Gambling columnist for About.com.

Burton's Texas Holdem book was published in 2002 long before the game became a national phenomenon. The producers of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown used his book during the first season to teach the game to the participants.

He writes for several national gaming magazines and newsletters. These publications include: Casino Player, Strictly Slots, The Southern California Gaming Guide, Midwest Gaming and Travel magazine, Southern Gaming and Destinations magazine, Midwest Player and Blackjack Insider.

Burton is an instructor for the Golden Touch Craps dice control seminars teaching players how to gain the advantage in craps. He is an expert at all casino games and can teach players how to play any casino game as well as offering them advice to get the most out of their casino visits.

Bill Burton Websites:

www.billburton.com
www.goldentouchcraps.com

Books by Bill Burton:

1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets

> More Books By Bill Burton