If you cannot avoid making mistakes, you are almost certain to go home a loser. Today, let’s look at mistakes related to knowing your opponents’ playing traits, the most difficult of which are Calling-Stations.
Players’ traits include tight or loose, passive or aggressive (including “maniacs”), timid (easily forced out), and whether he is a Calling-Station.
Once a Calling-Station enters a pot – making a preflop investment – he rarely folds unless there is practically no chance of his winning the pot. Note: Calling-Stations are also prone to be chasers. (Chasers are bound to be losers.) More likely than not, they are weak players, often calling bets with relatively poor hands, and rarely raising.
On that basis, it’s great to have such players at your table – whether or not you have identified them as such. But there is one situation where your success may well depend on properly identifying any Calling-Stations: When you are attempting to pull off a bluff.
Assuming you do bluff on occasion (and you should), it could very well make the difference as to whether or not you go home a winner. But, of all the playing traits, this is the hardest to detect. Nevertheless, it’s a big mistake if you fail to try to identify the Calling-Station(s) at your table.
Almost every table is likely to have at least one, possibly several, Calling-Stations. How can you recognize them?
Whenever there is a showdown, look to see what hands the caller(s) held. In theory, it’s as simple as that. Most important, note when that player takes the pot on the showdown. Did he have a good hand? Those who frequently call post-flop with only a small pair, or with only a few outs, are likely to be Calling-Stations. Occasionally, they connect on the river, and win the hand.
Some players who have already folded may not pay any attention to the game. They are not involved, so who cares what hands the players held? They would rather look at the football game action on the big TV screen mounted up on the wall or have a conversation with someone not even involved in the game. Allowing themselves to be distracted from the game is a big mistake that may cost them chips later in the game.
Most who have folded, do pay attention to the game – but only to see who won, what he held, and how big the pot was. They pay little if any attention to the losers’ hands. Their mistake. That could have been a great opportunity to learn their opponents’ playing traits and identify Calling-Stations.
On the other hand, some sharp players will take an occasional break, and just sit at the table for a full orbit, during which they study how their opponents play their hands. Good idea. This applies to all player traits.
Now we get to the bottom line. The best reason for identifying Calling-Stations at your table is so you can avoid trying to bluff them out. He is bound to call your bluff; and the chances are he has you beat.
During a poker session, there will be many situations where a good bluff can take the pot for you. On the other hand, it would be wise to avoid trying to bluff that hand if a Calling-Station is in the hand with you. Along the way, you may very well convince the other opponents to muck their cards, but the Calling-Station is there to stay – all the way to the river and then the showdown.
Of course, it’s a much different story if you had been semi-bluffing on the turn and connected on the river – lucky you! In that case, you are happy to have the Calling-Station there to pay you off when you bet out.
We invite your comments.