Pre-Flop vs Calling Stations

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jn137

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I'm referring specifically to pre-flop action here.. but I have encountered this situation a few times where a table is full of "gamblers" who will basically call no matter what. We've all seen them.. money is pretty much not even a factor as the attitude is "Well, we haven't even seen any cards yet so how could I fold? I guess it just costs $X to play now.."

I'm not a huge fan of limping, except in certain situations where it can be beneficial. But, at what point does raising pre-flop just get thrown out the window? Or does it ever? If you are inevitably going to go 7-8 ways to flop, with almost no way of determining your opponents range(s), when does trying to get value out of your hand become too risky? Even KK, AA, AKs are very vulnerable when this many could hit some random two pair, trips, etc.

In the long run we can take advantage of these players almost every time, isolating them. But against an entire table.. things change. How do you handle these situations? Raise more, less? The same? Again, regarding pre-flop here specifically.
 
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droozy

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Exactly, raise more, ecpecially with AA, KK and QQ, even AK suited. If you are on the dealer and already pot has been built up, go all-in with these hands.
 
Phoenix Wright

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I don't know about All-in as Grizzly_88 is willing to do, but you bring up a good situation jn137. If they almost never fold preflop, then why are we building a pot without seeing the community cards ourselves?

I recommend open-raising the standard or larger with your value hands like AA, KK etc. and not bluffing. Why try to bluff the calling station? When you don't have a premium hand like mentioned (which will be most of the time since premium hands don't come around too often), then I'd be more inclined to make decisions as the cards come. The Flop comes down...who does this benefit more? You or the calling station? If the calling station is a fishy player (as they typically are), then you will naturally out-play them post-flop, so you WANT them in the hand when they can make more mistakes than you do :)

In the much less common case where your calling station opponent is a sticky player who happens to be good, then I'm more willing to value raise and bet because these players aren't calling with literally everything. Against a sticky player who is also good, then keep value betting with the mindset that taking the pot down before showdown is a good result because we really don't want to be playing the late streets with this kind of player anyway.
 
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droozy

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Why not to go all-in with premium hands if pot is already sweet enough with many calling stations called, especially in cash game? Calling stations like to call on every street, but they are usually reluctant to do one big call (all-in; especially on the river). With all-in move, you take that calling part away from them and put them in tricky situation. Also, if you have, for instance AK suited on the dealer and 5-6 opponents have already entered (sweetened) the pot, going all, you are guaranteed to see all 5 cards without tough decision for yourself. You mentioned out-playing a fishy opponent - but the question is: what do you mean by out-playing someone? You forget that many people, especially beginners and bad players, even pros are at whim when they do a decisions at poker table (Caro´s book of tells). So, you cannot say you can out-play someone who does not know what he will do by himself. Regarding decisions and final results, poker is relative - that is my empiric opinion based on experience. May the Aces be with you!
I don't know about All-in as Grizzly_88 is willing to do, but you bring up a good situation jn137. If they almost never fold preflop, then why are we building a pot without seeing the community cards ourselves?

I recommend open-raising the standard or larger with your value hands like AA, KK etc. and not bluffing. Why try to bluff the calling station? When you don't have a premium hand like mentioned (which will be most of the time since premium hands don't come around too often), then I'd be more inclined to make decisions as the cards come. The Flop comes down...who does this benefit more? You or the calling station? If the calling station is a fishy player (as they typically are), then you will naturally out-play them post-flop, so you WANT them in the hand when they can make more mistakes than you do :)

In the much less common case where your calling station opponent is a sticky player who happens to be good, then I'm more willing to value raise and bet because these players aren't calling with literally everything. Against a sticky player who is also good, then keep value betting with the mindset that taking the pot down before showdown is a good result because we really don't want to be playing the late streets with this kind of player anyway.
 
Phoenix Wright

Phoenix Wright

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Maybe more inclined to go All-In during a cash game when you can simply reload, but I was answering under the assumption of an MTT or SitnGo, or basically something with ICM considerations. In these events, survival is our number one priority and especially so if we believe we are the better player (should make us less willing to gamble on flips etc.). Due to this, even against a fish, we aren't thrilled with building the pot by an All-in. If we control the betting (not All-In), then we can control the size of the pot better.

Also, I've read Caro's book of poker tells too (one of the first books I read on poker although not my very first). True that players generally decide on a whim, but this doesn't mean you can't out-play them. Sure we can! :) Yes, they might not know in the moment if they will call or fold (some even do things like flip a coin to decide!), but it barely matters to us if we have value hands in play as I recommended earlier. Them calling with us favored is profitable for us and them folding gives us the pot and is also good for us.

Anyway, by "out-playing" them, I am basically saying you make better decisions more often, long-term. A lot of this can be simple preflop hand selection - it doesn't need to be weird plays and FPS (Fancy Play Syndrome).
 
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