Calling a bet instead of raising

Sometimes it is useful to just call your opponent instead of raising. This is a situation where you are not sure your opponent has a worse hand than you or has a better hand than you. If his hand is worse than yours, but you do not show strength by raising him, he may keep betting in the hopes of getting you to fold. However if you do raise when his hand is worse than yours, his hand may be bad enough that he would fold and you lose the possibility of winning additional bets in later rounds. This passive strategy has a little bit of risk to it because if he has a worse hand, he may be able to catch up and hit a 3 or 4 outer. In order for this strategy to work, you have to be playing against a player that is aggressive enough to keep betting when you do not show strength. If you are playing against a calling station or an otherwise weak player, you would not expect him to keep betting on future rounds with bad hands. If you do raise against an aggressive player, you put yourself in the position of a semi-bluff re-raise that you may not be able to call if you raised him with a marginally good hand. On the other hand, if his hand is better than yours, you do not want to raise because he is going to call or raise you back.

Example 1:

You are in a 5-handed game, on the button with A7o and you open-raise. The small blind folds and an aggressive player in the big blind calls.

Your hand: A7o Flop: A-9-8 rainbow

The aggressive player in the big blind checks and you bet. Then the aggressive player check-raises. Your decision is whether to re-raise or call. If you re-raise, you are giving him the message that you have a pair of A's (if not better). The aggressive player can check-raise with many hands, including a pair of A's, a straight draw, a pair of 9's or 8's. He knows that if you do not have an A and raised with two non-Ace high cards, such as KQ, KJ, it will be a tough decision for you to call both a Flop check raise and a Turn bet.

You would prefer that your opponent have an A with a lower kicker. Then you could re-raise on the Flop or raise on the Turn and win more than if you just called him down.

If he has a better hand than yours, such as AK, AQ, AJ, AT or two pair then you will lose more money by being aggressive. If he is on a straight draw and catches it, then your raise will lose you more money in the hand. Basically, if you show aggression after you get check-raised, you may be putting yourself in a situation where you will lose more bets when if he is already ahead or he catches his draw. Not only will you lose more bets when you are the loser, you will also win fewer bets when you are the winner. Compare the following situations:

Situation A: Your opponent is on a straight draw, you call his check-raise on the Flop and you raise him on the Turn.

If he catches the straight, he will bet out on the River. If he does not, he will check on the River, and then fold to your bet. You have shown him that you have a made hand on the River, so he will no longer think about bluffing on the River. So if you raise on the Turn, and he catches on the River, then you will lose 3 bets (2 bets on the Turn and 1 bet on the River). Meanwhile, if he does not catch on the River, then you will win 2 bets (2 on the Turn and none on the River). Situation B: Your opponent is on a straight draw, you call his check-raise on the Flop and you call him on the Turn.

If he catches the straight, he will bet out on the River. If he does not, he will also bet out on the River because he will think he has a chance of winning the pot with another bet since you have not shown him anymore aggression. So if you just call on the Turn, you lose 2 bets (1 on the Turn and

1 on the River) if he catches his straight. Meanwhile, if he does not catch a straight, then you will win 2 bets (1 on the Turn and 1 on the River).

In Situation A, you lose 3 bets when you lose and win 2 bets when you win. In Situation B, you lose

2 bets when you lose and win 2 bets when you win. This occurs because your opponent is very aggressive and you can count on him to bluff on the River if he does not catch his hand.

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