I discuss the importance of being able to fold with made hands when you know you’re beat.
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Stop calling when you know you’re beat. You often do it in hopes that your 1 pair hand is good or that your opponent is bluffing. When signs point to your hand being beat, just fold and avoid giving value to your opponents. You’ve made these losing calls too many times, and for the sake of your bankroll and your sanity, stop it.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
Calling Keeps You in the Micro Stakes
We all know aggression wins in poker, but what does that mean for the passive play of calling? Well, just the opposite: calling doesn’t win in poker (in the long run). Calling is simply hopeful poker: you’re hoping to win at showdown or hoping that you hit a strong hand on the next street.
Aggression on the other hand, with bets and raises instead of calls, gives you an additional way to win the pot by getting your opponents to fold.
This episode isn’t going to be about turning calls into raises, though. I’m talking about turning calls into good folds in order to save you valuable chips.
What’s a good fold? A good fold is one that saves you money.
- Folding when you know your hand is inferior, no matter the strength of your hand
- Folding when you know you can’t bluff them off their hand now or later
- Mucking when you’re unsure of the situation
- Folding when they’re charging you too much to draw to your hand
- Folding in order to avoid a worse situation in a bigger pot later on
A penny saved is a penny earned in life and business, and it’s also true in poker.
Need to figure out if calling is one of your leaks?
What Makes a “Mark” a Mark?
“The longer you stay in pots with no hand, the longer you stay in the micros.”
Who are the “marks” at micro stakes tables? Mostly, it’s the Fish. They’re the ones you’re always trying to play hands against.
And what makes a Fish a Fish? It’s all the calling they do.
Fish call too often preflop because:
- They can’t just give up their blinds
- They love seeing flops
- “It’s sooted!”
Fish call too often post-flop because:
- They have some showdown value
- They’re on a draw
- They don’t understand the strength of their hand
- They don’t want to be bluffed again
The Fish don’t put enough thought into their calls, and many of them treat calling as a default. They don’t put much thought into the calls they make. That’s why they stay in the micro stakes: their calls are constantly -EV, so they’re giving money to their betting and raising opponents.
Calling with Worse Made Hands
Most of the time, our bad calls are with either a draw or some sort of weak showdown worthy hand like one pair.
For the rest of this podcast, I’m going to discuss folding pairs or better when you know you’re beat.
Folding draws is relatively easy, especially once you understand and practice outs and odds math. I’ll save that for a future episode.
Calling with a worse made hand is where we lose most of our money:
- Calling with TP vs a 2p hand (AK on the A7xxx board and Villain has A7)
- Calling with 2nd pair vs a bluffer (LAG Villain loves to bluff, so call and pray)
- Calling with a weaker flush
- Calling with a flopped straight vs a rivered flush
- Calling with a set vs straight or better
Folding Isn’t Glamorous, But There Are Benefits
If you watch televised poker, the most exciting moments are the big bluffs or the crazy suck-outs or somebody getting fooled into bluff shoving.
But, folding is never glamorous. There’s nothing exciting there (except for the other person when they pull off a great bluff).
Winning poker is folding poker
Think about preflop.
I ran a report to find winning players with over 3,000 hands in my database.
I have 32 winners at 3K+ hands, and their VPIP’s range from 11% to 30%. Let’s look at the highest %. If your VPIP = 30%, what are you doing for the remaining 70% of the time?
Yep, you’re folding. These winning players are folding preflop anywhere from 70% to 89% of the time.
Yeppers, winning poker is folding poker.
If I look at the winningest players in my database with a win rate >10bb/100 hands with at least 3K hands, they fold between 71% and 81% of the time preflop. Let’s just average that and say 75% of the time they’re folding, which means they fold 3/4 hands dealt to them. That’s a lot of folding, but it leads to winning poker.
How often do you fold preflop?
Just look at your VPIP and subtract it from 100%. That’s how often you fold. If you’re a constant loser at the micro stakes, my guess is you fold maybe 65% of the time or less. That means you’re VPIP’ing way too much and you must be more selective in your preflop hand choices.
What about post-flop?
Out of these 32 winners:
- 21 fold > 50% of the time vs a flop bet
- 21 fold > 50% vs a flop raise
- 17 fold > 50% vs turn bet
- 18 fold > 50% vs turn raise
- 25 fold > 50% vs river bet
- 18 fold > 50% vs river raise
Vs each of these bets and raises, more than half of the winners in my database are folding more than half the time.
How often do you fold on each street vs an initial bet or vs a raise? Is it more or less than 50%? If less, you’re probably not folding enough and your stationy tendencies are leading to losses.
Folding Lets You Learn
Folding allows you to exit the hand, but you’re still there to learn from it. You aren’t required to get to showdown to learn from a hand, you just need to observe it.
In LIVE poker, make sure you continue watching the action and learn how your opponents play.
Of course, online players should do this as well, but it’s tough when multi-tabling. That’s where database and hand history reviews with PokerTracker 4 come in handy. It saves the details of every hand for you. You just need to take the time to review your database in a study session and do hand reading exercises.
Let Break-even Calling Math Help Improve Your Calls
The break-even point is where your expected profits from making a play are equal to your expected losses in the long run. So, if you ran a break-even call 1M times, you're making (or losing) $0.
You can use break-even calling math to help you make better calling decisions. Here's the formula:
BE Calling Point = Call / (Pot + Villain’s Bet + Call)
- Villain bet $1 in a $2 pot on the river and you called
- BE Calling Point = $1 / ($2 + $1 + $1) = $1/$4 = 25%
This means that in order for your call to break-even, you must win the hand 25% of the time (1/4). If you win more frequently than this, it's a +EV call to make. If you're winning <25% of the time, it's a -EV call to make.
You can calculate the BE Calling Point every time you consider calling, but there's a mathematical consistency here that makes it unnecessary to do so every time. the Break-even calling point is the same every time based on the size of your opponent's bet in relation to the pot:
For example (chart above), every time you face a 50% pot-sized bet, your call needs to win 25% of the time to break-even.
When Are You Going to Finally Learn to Fold?
You know that you’ve made the same type of mistaken call over and over again. And I don’t mean mistaken call like you mis-clicked. No, you made a call that you should not have made. All the signs were there that you were beat.
You knew in your gut that they just hit there straight or their flush or they had a better 2p hand to beat your hand.
Maybe it was their bet size, maybe it was there HUD stats, maybe it was there tendencies or maybe it was the fact that you’ve played with this player over thousands of hands and you just KNEW that you were beat.
But what happened? You ignored your gut and your pride and maybe your heart took over and forced your finger to click CALL instead of FOLD.
Or, maybe you just haven’t learned your lesson yet even though you’ve made these failed calls time and time again. So, I’m gonna help you finally learn this lesson.
If you go to the show notes page for today you will find three different screenshots for filtering through PokerTracker 4 to find common terrible calling spots. I recommend you follow along in your own database right now as I discuss each of them. You’re probably gonna find that you are a big loser when making these common calling errors.
#1. Double-Barrel Cbetting Then Calling a River Bet with a One Pair Hand
In this situation, your opponent called the flop and turn (slowplaying a big hand or drawing) then they lead out on the river. They finally bet here so they don't miss out on value.
#2. Bet Then Calling a Raise on the Turn
Not the worst win rate, but pretty bad, especially when in the EP.
When I changed the filter from calling the raise to re-raising, my results were much different:
#3. 2bet/Call 3bet Preflop with Pocket Pairs, Suited-Connectors and Suited-Gappers
Add different hand categories one at a time
- PP’s: 22-77
- SC’s: 32s-QJs
- SG’s: 42s-QTs
Record and compare all the #’s (# of hands, $ Won and BB/100)
Which hands are costing you the most money? Which ones should you never 2bet then call 3bets with ever again?
Make note of any mistakes you catch so you can work to not repeat them in the future.
Support the Show
I held the ‘Playing to Learn Micro Stakes Webinar' the other day… and it's a hit! Great feedback and people are taking me up on the 30-day Micro Stakes plan I gave them. I want to thank these fabulous poker peeps for purchasing the webinar: Bryan Chancey, Garrett Romain, Andreas Triantafillou, Joel Spurny, John Walsh, David Ridge, Jerry, Cindy, Mantas Kurpius, Chris, Aleksey, Ernst, Stanley, Philippe Verhelst, Bud Kincaid, Perttu Leiniitty, Oliver, Darren Layne, Christopher Wasson, Ian Trickett, Asher and Koen.
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