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Stud Poker Strategy: Calling Stations

Stud Poker Strategy: Calling Stations

You've played against players who frequently call and seldom raise or fold. They're known familiarly as "calling stations". It can be frustrating to play against them. Even so they're great to have in a game. Let me give you some tips about how to extract the maximum amount of money from them.

Calling stations call too frequently, raising and folding too seldom. There are loathe to initiate the betting nor to escalate the action, preferring the passive loose role to the aggressive one. They are an excellent source of profit for the skillful player.

Your profit comes from getting them to call hands that they should fold. You do this both by being selective in the hands you play and by playing more hands against them then you would play against more selective or more aggressive opponents.

This also means not bluffing against them. Since they err by calling too often, you are wasting money by trying to get them to fold with your aggressive play. Some otherwise good players fail to understand this. They think that if their opponents are bad, that they should be aggressive – bluffing and semi-bluffing at any opportunity. But in so doing they are turning their poor opponent's weakness into a strength.

Here are some examples of how to play and how not to play against a calling station.

You hold ({a-Spades}{a-Diamonds}){3-Clubs}. A 2 to your right brings in the bet and a Queen who is a calling station calls. Raise this hand. While you might be tempted to get tricky against a relatively tight player who called, not wanting to knock him out of the hand with a raise, against the calling station you absolutely want to force the action. Get him to put more money into the pot right away. Raise.

Similarly on Fourth Street you don't want to get tricky. Let's say, for example that you get a King and he gets a blank. You are high. The clever player in you might say to go for a check raise. Don't be silly. He's not going to bet. Just bet your hand. If he has a pair he'll call you until the River. Don't miss a bet.

Let's say, on the other hand, that you have an Ace up on third street and garbage in the hole. Your calling station friend calls with his Queen up. Don't get cute and raise. He's going to call you down. Call along or fold. No need to spend more money when you're not the favorite.

The only exception to this case is if you think you can knock out the other players with a raise. You'd like to be heads up against this player if you were to go into the lead on the next card. But if you don't, forget about trying to knock him out of a hand with a bet on Fourth or Fifth. Remember that he errs by calling too much. So don't try to muscle him.

Here's an example of that. You have ({2-Spades}{2-Diamonds})Ad. Your calling station opponent calls the bring-in with a T. You raise with you're a, hoping to isolate him. You succeed. He calls. On fourth you get ({2-Spades}{2-Diamonds}){a-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}. He gets {x-}Ts{9-Clubs}.

You think that you don't want him drawing to that possible straight if that's what he has. So you bet your hand. WRONG! Don't do that. Check. If he's drawing he'll call your bet and you'll waste it. If he's ahead he'll still be likely to check behind you. You're the one who wants to see the free card. If the next hand makes his straight and he bets after you check, you can safely fold, knowing that the only way he'd bet is with a powerhouse – him being a calling station and all.

Remember that your profit from a calling station comes from him calling you when he's behind and from him failing to make you pay to draw when you're behind. For that to work to your advantage, however, you can't push your borderline hands or try to force him out of the pot by bluffing.

Ed Note: Great action at London Poker Club Sign Up today. Just don't be a calling station!

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