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Every poker player has crossed swords with a calling station at some point in their career. They mostly frequent low stakes online poker cash games, but all levels house these frustrating creatures.
Most people who struggle to beat a calling station are their own worst enemy. You ll find out why soon enough. We need to look at what a calling station is and what their tendencies are before we learn how to combat them. So let s do exactly that.
Have you ever come across an opponent who finds it difficult to lay down any hand. They call you down on all streets if they connect with the board in any way shape or form. You have met a calling station, my friend.
Let s get one thing straight before we get into the guts of this article. A calling station is not a good poker player, not even a remotely decent one. They win money when luck is on their side. Their win rate has little-to-nothing to do with their poker skills.
Their biggest downfall is their inability to fold a hand. Folding and conserving chips is as important as betting and winning them. Even Kenny Rogers sang about the concept in the song The Gambler.
Why do players struggle against a calling station if they re so bad at poker? Like a lot of things in poker, it s because they fail to adapt to their opponent.
Failing to adapt to a calling station opponent is the number one reason for losing money to them. They play their usual game and allow the calling station to help themselves to their stack.
This is true of all player types. Loose-aggressive, loose-passive, or tight-aggressive, it doesn t matter. Fail to adapt and you fail to hold onto your chips.
Study your opponents before trying to devise a strategy to combat them. There s a train of thought that says you make more money from poker doing the opposite of your opponents.
For example, tighten up when playing loose players, and loosen up against tight players. Take advantage of their weaknesses and you won t go far wrong.
We ve already agreed a calling station calls too much, so let s use that against them. Reduce, if not completely stop bluffing them. Just don t do it because they re going to call anyway. I ve lost count of the money I ve lost bluffing on the river of a 2c-Qd-4s-9s-Ah board after being called down and my opponent shows something ridiculous like 6c-4s.
Your bluffs will be called so save yourself some chips and your sanity and stop bluffing a calling station.
The majority of poker players with a solid grasp of the game have set bet amounts. They bet the same whether they ve got a made hand or a drawing hand to disguise their strength. These opponents don t care what size bet you make; they re calling it anyway!
This leads us down the path of another area to attack. First, make larger bets with strong, made hands. Your bet size is player dependent but bet as much as you can get away with. Flopped a set? Bet the size of the pot. Think you have the nuts on the river? Consider an over-bet shove. Betting big allows you to extract a heap of value from this player type. If they will call a $10 bet 100% of the time, they ll probably call a $20 bet 80% of the time. That s $16 whenever they call, $6 more than what s guaranteed. It all adds up in the end.
You should also go for thin value too. You may consider giving up on the river Td-Tc after being check-called on a 3s-6h-7c-7d-6d board against a typical opponent. Bet for value against a calling station and get shown some bizarre hands!
One thing to note is be very weary when a calling station shows some aggression. They ll sometimes lead out and take a feeble stab at the pot. Don t worry too much about that. Be more concerned when they put in a raise, particularly on the turn, because they almost certainly have a monster.
If it s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.
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We have all been there, were playing a cash game or tournament and we see these players that just play every hand imaginable and somehow come out on top what seems to be an alarming amount of the time, calling people down on draws and hitting and calling flop bets with just an overcard and beating our better hands… It can be really frustrating.
In case you are not really sure about what type of player were are discussing today, here is a great example that comes in the form of a rich amateur player Bill Ruffin…
In this poorly played hand, the amateur player limps into the pot, instantly capping his range and declaring his hand a poor one, then calls a large raise and plays the rest of the pot out of position with K 3 .
Once he sees a flop of K A 8 he donk bets the pot, which is not the best way for him to get to showdown, a check call is a much better way to do this as any lead into this pot could easily get raised.
The turn card brings 4
and he leads out again this time for a full pot sized bet, Viffer then chooses this time to raise the pot as a bluff, making it $50,000 to go, Ruffin quickly calls this bet.
The river brings the most dangerous card in the deck completing straights and flushes with the Q hitting, Ruffin finally checks this card and Viffer fires out $100,000 as a complete bluff and Ruffin manages to call this without any problem at all.
So how do we combat these players that are just putting too much money in the pot with too many hands?
Well we have come up with 4 key tips for besting these types of players… The first thing can we learn from our valiant friend Viffer from this example is…
They are not going to think of hands the same way we or other players may do, they simply have picked up poker on level 1, this is my hand, I have hit this pair, I should bet, Oh I got raised, this player bluffs, I will call.
If you can think back to the early days of yourself playing poker, you may have taken similar lines, they are not the type of player to put opponents on hands and act accordingly. In Bill Ruffins case, he bloats the pot with a very marginal hand, doing this serves no purpose as he should only be building a pot for if he is beat or blowing his opponent out of the pot if they dont have anything.
So just dont try and bluff these types of players anywhere near as much, as they are sticky with the worst of holdings.
These players are not concerned with pot odds, so, on draw heavy boards with good holdings throw in some over bets as these calling stations will almost never fold a draw!
Consider betting 1.5x the pot on all streets, so if the pot is $100 and you have top pair top kicker, just bet $150 to charge the max, this is a great way of collecting value from all the times they are going to station you with drawing hands and worse pairs.
We are going to get looked up more often than against a more solid opponent, so go with your gut if you think you are good in a pot, regardless of how thin a value bet might seem, remember these opponents are in the pot with a much wider range, so we can widen our value bet range on the rivers against this.
We can use the Ruffin Vs Viffer battle as an example for this, say Viffer was raising for value on the turn with say two pair and the flush/straight card hits on the end, we are still going to want to bet for value, especially if our opponent is calling pot sized river bets with second pair, they are going to be calling far too wide.
These players are going to be cash cows to play against, so we want to get as much equity against their hands as possible, the easiest way to do this is to isolate them preflop and play in position against them for more money/chips.
Look to widen your range against them and play a lot of suited connectors, as their ranges are wider, so to must, ours be. If they are playing hands like K3, we need to be playing all our suited connectors like 54s etc as these types of hands will realise equity and perform well against these any two card type of players.
Let s face it pub poker is full of calling stations. The high majority of general pub poker players are there for a cheap night s entertainment and to play cards, and they can t play cards if they keep folding their hands can they?
A calling station is basically a player who doesn t like to bet or raise but is happy to call your bets and raises. They are typically a loose passive player. Whilst they generally never lead out or bet they will call you down if they hit anything on the flop.
You should always aim to play in position against calling stations (you want to act after them).
Calling stations are going to see the flop a super high percentage of the time. Their preflop hand range is super wide and usually consists of any pair, any connecting cards, any 2 suited cards and any picture card (even with a rag). Due to this wide selection of possible hands they will play its typically very hard to get them to fold preflop.
When it comes to the flop, if they have hit the board and make a pair, flopped a draw of some kind then they will call you down. Typically if they just have over cards they will also call down to see the river. Again like preflop if they have hit the flop in any way they re typically not going to fold.
Some calling stations will even call down with any pocket pair even if there are higher cards on the board beating their pair.
The great thing about calling stations is that you will make money and chips playing against them. They are great to value bet against when you have made hands due to the fact that they very rarely fold.
With calling stations you never want to bet small when you have a strong hand, and when I say strong I don t just mean AK or similar I mean a strong made hand remember they will call you down with most pairs, so betting Ace high on the flop isn t always going to be a great move.
You do need to remember though that calling stations will be chasing their draws, you cannot stop this (unless maybe going all in) so you want to make sure when you bet you don t make it cheap for them to chase their draws.
By making your best pot sized when they call chasing their draws they will be statistically making a mistake and will be losing more money / chips in the long run by making those calls. Yes they will still hit occasionally just be prepared to fold your hand when the obvious draws get there and they lead out.
Remember most calling stations aren t complete idiots, and you can induce bluffs off them when you are out of position. Checking to them give them the power to try and bluff you off your hand which is a good way to make a few extra chips from their hand which they would have just folded to your river bet after their draw didn t get there.
Also be warned of random hands though like 2 pair with a picture card and rag card. If you only have a single pair hand and the calling station shows aggression on KhTc7s 5c 2h come the river chances are they ve got a hand like K2s or K5 and made a random two pair. Pay attention to their play in pots with people and how
You should be making mental notes of all the players at the table when you start playing, pub poker attracts a wide range of players and play styles.
You need to make sure you can identify which players are the calling stations as you ll need to know which players you can take advantage of. They re great to play against because you re typically going to be the one taking control of the hands and the betting. Giving you the ability to control the pot sizes.
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