To Call or Not to Call, That is the Question

ericklam92

ericklam92

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I’ve seen a lot of amazingly bad call decisions playing a few million hands of poker over many decades, and suspect that many of them are because the caller isn’t really thinking about the actual pot odds they are being offered relative to their actual odds of winning, or, are over collapsing their opponent’s range based on some kind of hunch to just a few bluffs, when many strong value hands are obviously in range also.
So I thought it might be fun to just post several specific scenarios over a number of days, looking mostly at spots where you face an all in bet, and ask whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous run outs with a call, or to take arms against a sea of troubles… yeah, yeah, ok already: should you call or should you fold?
Before getting on to the first examples, though, it’s probably good to add a bit of a disclaimer: these spots are all about loss reduction. You really mostly don’t want to be in a situation where you have to decide only between calling or folding, as these defensive lines have almost no hope of showing a profit against anyone except the most bluff heavy opponents. But still, better managing loss reduction lines is an important skill.
Spot 1: It is late in a tournament, and blinds have climbed to $1,000 and $2,000, with no ante on a 6 max table with 4 players now seated. You are the big blind with 7h4c. The cutoff folds, and the button, who has only $5,400 left, jams all in. The small blind in front of you folds. You are in the lead at the table with $32,500. The pot is now $8,400, and it costs you $3,400 more to call.
Context: this player is usually very tight, but seems to have some awareness that having a really short stack should make them raise with more hands, but you think they understand “more hands” to mean, instead of shoving with just aces, they will now shove with any pair, AQ+, all suited aces, and maybe a very small number of other hands, like KQs, QJs, and JTs (so their shoving range is still much tighter than their situation in the tournament warrants).
Do you call or do you fold?
Spot 2: 6 max cash game table with blinds of 200k and 100k and 5 active players. You are the small blind with $9,800,000. HJ folds, CO raises to $500,000, button folds. Both the CO and the big blind have you covered. You have Qh9s should probably fold, as the big blind is aggressive, and prone to make 3 bets. You call anyway with a masterful plan to outplay both players post flop even out of position. The big blind 3 bets to $1,800,000, the CO calls, and you call again.
The flop comes Th9d3d. You check, the big blind bets $2,000,000 (a bit under half pot), and the cut off jams all in for $25,000,000. It costs you $8,000,000 to call and you will win $19,600,000 if you somehow win here.
Context: both players are aggressive pre-flop and post-flop. You think the big blind’s 3 betting range will be something like AA-TT, ATs+, AKo, KQs, A5s and 87s, and the cutoff will mostly only 4 bet with AA and KK, and will call with AQ+, all suited aces, K9s+, suited gappers down to 86s, and suited connectors down to 54s, and also 53s. On the flop, you think the big blind fires this small continuation bet with most of their very strong range, while the all in over bet from the cut off is quite polarized with only sets, 2 pair type hands, and a variety of high equity bluffs. You think they will make this bet some of the time with around half of their highest equity draws and occasionally with a few weaker ones. You also think that 2 pair type hands, while in range, maybe only take this line about 1/3 to 1/4 of the time.
Call or fold?
 
exer888

exer888

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At spot 1 i can say that you call any two cards from BB if button jam for 2.5 bb. You have no fold equity, and every pot can be decent because of ante. And be aware that in 6 max is hard to find a premium hand. So with that stack size i would call any two from BB.
 
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