Calling can be a very powerful tool in no limit Texas hold’em for a multitude of reasons. Firstly in order to hand read then we can broadly categorise our opponents hand into three broad areas. These are strong……mediocre and weak or whatever descriptions you care to put on them.
If your opponent for example raised pre-flop then they could have a strong hand depending on their position, range and stack depth. However your opponents hand strength is a floating dynamic because with the arrival of more board cards then their hand will change strength.
For example let us say that your opponent raised with Qc-Qd pre-flop and you call on the button with the Jc-10c. You should already know that you may be behind your opponents range but with deep stacks then you are calling for other reasons. Our opponent clearly has a strong hand at this stage but we do not know that if we cannot see their cards.
An Early Position Raise
If they raise from early position in a full ring game then we have to give them credit for a strong hand. The flop comes 9d-8h-3s and our opponent c-bets 6bb into the 8.5bb pot.
Many players would semi-bluff here but we don’t have an awful lot of information at this stage as we have only seen two actions from our opponents and both of these actions have been on the early streets where the pot has been very small.
We have decent equity with our straight draw and overcard outs but as yet we don’t know what our opponent holds. Do they have the big overpair like AA-QQ (jacks and tens are harder to hit because of what we hold) or do they have a hand like AK, AQ, AJs?
Many opponents will tell us on the turn and imagine if the turn was the Ac and our opponent checked. If they had just connected with the ace then they would usually fire another barrel here for value. If they check then as a rule this tends to be for pot control and a bet by us in this situation should be profitable in no limit Texas Hold’em cash games.
Cleary overpairs like KK-TT are not going to like the ace arriving and now their hand has been massively devalued. So even though we are still behind, the big factor here is in how strong our opponent sees their hand. Pre-flop they would place Q-Q in the “strong” category and this would still be the case on the flop.
However when the ace arrives on the turn then in their own mind their hand is now mediocre. Many players would now check this or maybe make another weak bet of say half pot. One of the reasons why you called on the flop was to get more information about the hand of your opponent.
You often have to pay for information in online poker because you cannot physically see your opponent. If our opponent truly did have a hand that was in the “strong” category then they would clearly want to build a big pot and keep the betting going.
They wouldn’t risk checking and then seeing us check it back and then miss an entire betting round. If they bet something like half pot after betting more on the flop then this is usually indicative of a hand that is possibly betting for thin value or maybe to set the price of the action because they want to see a showdown as cheaply as possible.
It is horrible when you have hands like KK-QQ and the ace arrives because you no longer feel secure betting for value.