Seriously, let's talk about calling. I've said many times that there are three things to consider, in a specific order, every time you are going to put money in the pot.
1. Should I raise? This is #1 for a reason, but I guarantee that most of you think its a last resort. Well, maybe not all of you....since many of you think it is a NEVER, along with folding. You're just calling stations. But the very first thing you should consider every time is RAISING. The first person in a pot could have anything. If you just call, you have zero idea what they are holding. You might THINK you have them on a range of hands (....I'm sorry, sometimes I crack myself up. I know most of you aren't thinking any such thing). Anyway, you might THINK you have them on a range of hands, but in reality you have zero clue because they were the first person that acted and they could have pocket Aces, or they could have 2-7 offsuit and they're trying to steal the pot.
2. Should I fold? Yep, this comes BEFORE calling. Because quite honestly, if your hand isn't good enough to raise with, you should probably strongly consider FOLDING. I know, you won't...but you SHOULD. Folding when you don't have chip one in a pot costs you nothing. I don't care if you had 4-8, and the flop came 8-8-8....it was still the correct fold! What exactly were you hoping for when you called? Because if it is a flop of 8-8-8, then I need you at my table, to my left, all night long.
3. And finally, Should I call? Yepper, the last resort. This is limited to very few hands, but to most of you, it is limited to THE REST OF THE DECK. Lets say under the gun, blinds 100/200, you have A-K, and you make a small raise to 450 with A-K of hearts. The button looks down, and raises to 1000. Blinds fold, and you're heads up to the guy in position, raising big. What do you do?
-- Should you raise? Not a bad move, but you better be right, since he can always shove all in over top of you and you have nothing.
-- Should you fold? You've got a top 5 hand. According to most hand ranking charts, there are only a couple of hands better than yours right now. Not a chance I'm folding, unless I honestly have a great read of K-K or A-A on the button.
-- So here, YOU SHOULD CALL. And when you call, you're looking for a monster. Flop comes A-7-9 rainbow, or worse yet---A-Q-7 rainbow, you better be concerned. You haven't hit that flop hard enough to justify going crazy. You'd much prefer A-7-9 with two hearts. Now you have top pair, top kicker, with the nut flush redraw.
So there's a reason for you to take the third option, and just call. But in all honesty, I wouldn't have blamed you if you had stopped at Option Two and folded. I think raising in that situation is not an option, but feel free if you have a great read on a loose player who always raises from the button.
Here are some recent examples of people who jumped straight to option 3, without considering anything else.
Twice Monday night I was called by A-4. What exactly was this person hoping to catch? I've raised preflop, so the natural assumption is that I have either a pocket pair, or a big Ace. So why did I get called by the same person twice? The answer is simple: The person calls every Ace. Dumb, but good for blogging material. And the second call was for all her chips (TWENTY THOUSAND!) when she didn't have chip one already invested in the pot.
Another person raised preflop, and got two callers, including the A-4 person from above, who had already demonstrated that she'd call with any Ace. The flop came with an Ace, and the first caller bet big, with a call by the frequent Ace caller....and the original raiser called also, with a PAIR OF JACKS. What exactly was she hoping to accomplish by calling with J-J against an Ace and two people betting big in front of her? Oh, maybe I'll hit my two outter (8% chance of that, by the way).
Many people I play with wonder why they don't cash very often. If at all. And I laugh, because the answer is simple. They call too much. Calling stations will occasionally cash. Blind pigs will occasionally find an acorn on the ground. But calling stations will never win long term in poker. They'll never finish a year with a net positive cash position from poker. NEVER. And I'll bet they don't realize this, because they aren't tracking their money anyway. They just show up, pay their money, throw away their chips, and go home.
Tuesday night was another example. One of the worst players I regularly play with showed why this is a fact. Preflop, there was a raise, and a reraise in front of her. And she called, with K-9. I just can't stress enough how stupid...I mean, wrong...this is. There is no scenario you can show me where the math is correct for this call. In an earlier tournament, there was a raise, and all in, and another all in, and a person called with K-4. He said, and I quote, the second all in made the pot odds right. And to this day, nearly two months later, I still laugh every time I think about that statement. The pot odds are almost NEVER correct to call with K-4, and they certainly aren't with a raise, and two all ins.
Compare that to this: Last Saturday night the blinds were 5000/1000, and under the gun moved all in for 21,000. It folded all the way around to the big blind, me, who called without looking at my cards. 36,000 in the pot, and it cost me $11,000 to call. I'm getting well over 3-1 on my money (36,000 to 11,000). In that scenario, any two cards called with is getting the correct odds.
Notice, I haven't mentioned the results in any of the above scenarios. I don't mention them because they don't matter. What matters is that the players all simply did the wrong thing, and regardless of how they did THAT HAND, by doing that same thing over and over again over a long period, they are losing hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.