Playing the other day, A-K-10 on the board, and I called a dude's all in bet with a pair of 6's....and won the hand.
Now, some might say "Luckbox", while others will say "Nice call", and still others will say "Nice read". And several people asked the title of this blog..."How could you make that call?"....including the guy that was sent packing. So I thought I'd spend a few minutes today discussing reads and "hero calls", as I like to call them.
Lately, a few of my Fannation friends have been playing Texas Hold Em on Facebook. Since its free poker, you're bound to see a whole bunch of calling and even more so....a whole bunch of really BAD calling. Or, as I like to call it....Mark's Tuesday Night Game. (Inside joke, but I guarantee at least 4 people laughed when they read that). We've mostly been playing 1,000 chip, single table sit-n-go's. I prefer these because your actual chip losses are limited to 1,000; and because I much prefer the tournament style of poker. (Since I'm working to improve my cash game, I don't really want to practice in a free game where everyone just calls everything. I know, at Mark's Friday Night Game, that's pretty close to accurate, but I digress).
Anyway, in this game, several of the guys I play with have seen me make many hero calls such as this. And since I cash in those games well over half the time, and win over half of the ones I cash in, I figure they are good examples. These calls aren't made because of the reason you see 90% of the other players make hero calls. MOST players make them because they simply refuse to let go of a pocket pair, or a card that pairs the board. They are hoping and praying to the river that they get trips. And if you give them a chance to make a big move on the turn, they'll normally make a big move, or shove all in. I have no explanation as to why this happens, but I can tell you that it does.
Another reason people make the big turn or river move is when they've been the one raising all along, and my read tells me its a bluff. They raise preflop, I call with pocket 6's. They bet out on the flop, and something doesn't feel right....so I call. Then on the turn, panic has set in because they haven't hit anything, and they've invested a bunch, so they just shove all in. (Note: If you think this happens only online or in free games, you need to play more live games for real money. They do the EXACT same thing.)
Now with all that being said.....it still doesn't explain how I make the call. It would appear on the surface that I'm just doing what I make fun of people for doing....calling and praying for trips on the river. If you believe this, you couldn't be more wrong if you tried. I have a simple rule that I follow as much as I possibly can: CALL OR RAISE WHEN I AM AHEAD; FOLD WHEN I AM BEHIND. It is just that simple. Many a player has heard me say, when they question my fold...."When I call, you'll know you're beat".
However, it isn't that I'm clearly ahead or behind. It is more like I said above. Something doesn't feel right. I have a "feeling". I really can't explain it any more than that. I know it has something to do with betting patterns, or proportion of bets to pot size, or the look on their face when they do it, or 1000 other things that combine in some shape or fashion. But when you put it all together, its just a feeling.
An example of when I was wrong about how to proceed was a couple of months back. I called two raises with pocket 10's, and knew in my heart that one of the other guys had pocket Aces. And I'll tell you how I figured out who had them.
1. Button flat calls.
2. Small blind makes a standard raise.
3. I have pocket 10's, so I call.
4. Button then reraises.
5. Small blind flat calls.
Who has the Aces? Obviously, the button. Small blind took a shot with A-K or A-Q (in my mind), and then called the reraise. I was as certain of those two reads as I am that I am typing right now. And knowing what I knew....I still called with 10-10. Hit and cha-ching/miss and fold. That simple.
Then the flop comes, A-10-X. Uh oh, if I'm right, my trips are crushed. Small blind checks, so I try to find out, and I bet out 1000. Button flat CALLS. And so does the small blind. Was I wrong? Do they both have like A-K? Did the button actually have K-K? I REALLY don't think so. I still think he's either stupid for giving me and the small blind another free card with a call, and I'll take it. (By the way, the small blind flat calling tells me I'm probably right about the A-K or A-Q. He hit his Ace, but he's clearly not happy about me betting out, and the guy that reraised to begin with only calling. He's confused.)
Now, the turn comes, and its a Jack. And I take a shot at a title I know I will be proud of. I take a shot at a bluff that would make any poker player in Vegas proud. I say, and I quote: "Trip aces, huh?" And I shove all in. If he is paying attention at all, I called preflop both times, so I can't have that strong of a hand. I could EASILY have K-Q suited, and now have a straight. And judging by the time it took him to call the bet, he was thinking the exact same thing. But I have forgotten one thing: I forgot to take into account who I was playing. He would have called that bet if there were three Kings on the board and he was holding A-A. He might have called it with three Kings on the board and he was holding 2-7 offsuit.
So, obviously he called. Not a Hero Call. He even said when he called, "You've probably got the straight, but I CAN'T FOLD THESE." So there's an example of the opposite of today's topic.
So in short review:
1. Making the hero call is a brilliant thing. It is based on a reasonable deduction of what you think the other guy has compared to what you have. It is not guessing. It is not hoping. It is not praying. It is done with the full knowledge that you are substantially favored to win the hand.
2. Making the donkey call is a stupid thing. I don't care if you're right. That is not the point of the discussion. The discussion is about WHY you called, not simply the fact that you did. If you called for any reason other than "I knew I was ahead", then it is a donkey call.
Both win...but I will GUARANTEE you that #1 wins far more often than #2. In fact, #2 RARELY wins.
That's it for today. Tune in tomorrow for what I hope will be a long discussion about table talk. Or, as I like to call it, "How does Gruden piss people off to the money?" Catch ya then.....