When we are calling another player’s raise when in position we are going to want to have some clear ideas set in our head of why we are doing this, let’s look at what these are…
We will want to do this for value purposes firstly, which is when our hand is strong enough to play against the Villians opening range, but won’t be strong enough for us to want to 3-Bet our hand.
Benefits of flat calling include:
We don’t bloat the pot when we are in bad shape against our opponent’s hand.
We are able to outplay our opponent when they flop poorly post-flop.
We don’t end up folding to a 4-Bet if we 3-Bet with a marginal holding.
One downside is that:
We don’t force out hands pre-flop that would have folded to a 3-Bet that have equity.
A look at our Implied Odds
Whilst we might not have the best hand when we are choosing to flat call against Villians opening range, we are getting good odds, there are the blinds and antes in the pot already and now there is a raise the pot is larger again, so we are getting around 3:1 on a call immediately and we can win much more of our opponents stack on the occasions we flop a lot of equity.
Good hands to play like this in position are hands that make the nuts pretty easily, hands like 22–88 flop sets and suited Ace high hands that can get a tonne of value post-flop when they hit are perfect hands to flat call with, in position.
Decent Hands on the Button
In this pot we have ATo on the Button facing a Cut-Off open raise of 3BBs.
So the question is, should we 3-Bet or Flat call?
There is merit to both plays, but today we are going to be looking at playing these types of hands as flat calls and there are some good reasons for doing this with a hand like ATo here.
We are going to keep in some worse hands from bad players that may pay us off post-flop.
Let’s say if we 3-Bet all our opponents A2–A8 are going to fold, then we will lose value from them for the times they flop a piece of the board and we have them beat.
Another good reason is that whilst this type of hand plays poorly in 4+ way pots, in hands where we are heads up or 3 way our hand will play pretty well especially having position.
We will want to smooth call here when the blinds are pretty passive or poor players that we don’t mind if they are in the pot.
Typically we will want to be 3-Betting more often when there are good players in the blinds just to avoid them making moves on us in the way of them 3-Betting themselves.
So whilst we would want to smooth call with poor players in the blinds in this spot, 3-Betting to get better players out of the pot that will play well post-flop is going to be much better for our chances in winning the pot.
Flatting with Pocket Pairs
These hands are just slam dunk flat calls, I see people making the mistake of going to war with bad players with hands like 77, because they have seen them be very spewy in previous pots with marginal hands and we want to play in pots with bad players, but we will still always want to keep the pot as small as possible before we make a good hand.
In this pot, for example, we have 55 on the Button and our opponent has raised to 3BBs. There is no other option for us other than smooth calling here, we just want to flick in a small investment in hitting our set which will happen around 1:8 times.
Small pairs just play too poorly post-flop unless they hit the board, we would basically be playing our pair as a bluff by 3-Betting, so we will always just call.
A good note is that we will want to have around 25x the bet size in our stack to make sure we are able to play pairs profitably. So if you have 25,000 chips in a tournament and blinds are 200/400 and someone raises to 1,000, this is fine to call to set mine, it’s when you start to get lower than this that things get a little dicey with regards to getting the correct implied odds.
A good thing to do when you get lower than this 25x number is to take out some of our smallest pairs so that our pocket pairs will have more value post-flop for when we don’t hit out sets, so just remove hands like 22–44 and continue with 55–88 as an example.
So hopefully from this you will have a clear idea of when to utilise the flat call when playing from position, remember that if you are going to ever play hands from out of position you will most likely want the betting lead, but when we have position smooth calling is less of a disadvantage due to us being able to act last for the rest of the hand.
Look to use hands that would fold to 4-Bets but play well in single raised pots to add into this smooth calling range, occasionally mixing in some trap hands too like AA and KK can be good, this way we can’t always be squeezed off our equity and we will still have some hands that can take a tonne of action in our range not just hands that can’t 3-Bet.
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