Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Calling Station & The Straight Flush

I've been talking a bit about online poker.  U.S. Poker is a great site for news, info and about online poker and poker in general, you can find it here.

But back to live poker.  On this particular night, I happened to be sitting next to a guy who exemplified the term “calling station.”  He came to the table with $300 and somehow built upon that—for awhile anyway.  In the two-three hours I played with him, I think he saw every single flop. Seriously, he hardly ever folded preflop.  Maybe once or twice, when someone made a really big three bet or a short stack shoved.  But if he had to call $25 or less, he saw the flop.  Also, I don’t think I ever saw him raise preflop.  I don’t think he ever raised on the later streets but on rare occasions, very rare, he did lead out with a bet on a later street.  If you want to know what he looks like, just Google “calling station” and you’ll see his picture.

I am grateful to the Calling Station because if almost any other player in the universe had been sitting directly to my right, this hand likely never would have happened.  In the small blind, I had 4-6 of clubs.  It folded to the button, aka the Calling Station, who did what he always did—he limped in.  Most players there either fold so the blinds can chop, or raise and try to steal the blinds.  But neither folding nor raising preflop was in his repertoire.

For a buck I figured I would try for the flush to get a drawing ticket.  The big blind just checked and the three of us saw the flop with a humongous $6 pot.  It came 7-6-3.  The 6 was red and the 7 and the 3 were both clubs.  So I had a pair, a gut-shot, a flush draw and oh yeah, a gut-shot straight flush draw.  Considering the preflop action, there was a good chance my pair of 6’s alone were good.  Although not necessarily. The calling station could have easily had pocket Aces because if he had, he would not have raised preflop with him.

I was first to act and I checked.  Why, with all that equity I had, did I not bet?  Well, with such a small pot, I was actually afraid I would take it down there, and I figured I wanted to see another card and try to get that flush (for the drawing).  I figured it wasn’t going to be a big pot no matter what.

The big blind bet $15, more the twice the size of the pot, and the Calling Station folded.  Note, he was capable of folding after the flop, just not so much preflop.  I called.

As the dealer was about to put out the turn card, I was thinking to myself, “Gee, the 5 of clubs would be real nice, wouldn’t?”  But of course, you never get the exact card you want right?  Well this time I did.  Yes indeed the turn card was the beautiful 5 of clubs.

I checked and started thinking about how to maximize this monster.  And I flashed back to the time I bet $10 when I rivered quad 10’s.  That story was told very recently here, and once again I was faced with the dilemma of how to play a monster.  Though obviously, it’s a nice dilemma to have.

The big blind put out $20 and I called.  When I later told my pal Abe about this hand, he thought that maybe that would have been the time to have pulled the trigger.  What do you think?  Do you think check-raising on the turn would have better than waiting for the river?

I didn’t know what I wanted to see on the river but I figured another club or a card that paired the board might get me some more chips.  How about a club that paired the board?  But it was a high, red face card that didn’t figure to have changed anything.

Still thinking about the quad 10’s hand I just alluded to, I forced myself to check the river.  It was hard.  I was gonna be so pissed if he checked behind me and I didn’t get paid off.

And sure enough, I was pissed.  He just checked and showed his hand.  He had pocket 6’s.  He flopped a set but he was smart enough to check the river with that very wet board.  Damn him.

As I said, you just don’t get enough practice playing monsters.  With a set, I think he would have called a reasonable-sized bet.  But who knows?

I think one thing I learned is, the key to playing monsters is to only get them when you’re last to act. 

It was a small pot, but you know, it’s always sweet to a hit a straight flush. 

What’s not so sweet is to fold the best hand even if it seemed like a good idea at the time. Actually, this was a hand I played really badly on every street.  I throw it in for those of who think I only talk about hands I play perfectly!  In the big blind I had Ace-King offsuit.  It had been raised and re-raised ($7 to $15) when it got to me.  I’m never four-betting Ace-King so the question was, should I call?  The three-better was an aggro who usually raised to $20 preflop, so I was surprise his three-bet was so small.  I suppose I should have repopped it there after all.  But the original raiser was still behind me and I thought he might actually have a hand. From this distance it sure looks like calling was the worst option and that was what I did.

Of course, before it came to me the Calling Station called and then the original raiser just called.  So four of us saw a flop of K-7-7.  I should have led out, but I just checked.  I guess I was gun shy because it had been raised and re-reaised preflop.  The preflop raiser bet $25, the three-bettor just called, the calling station also called (of course) and I called as well.  The turn card was an 8 and this time, everyone checked around. 

The river was a deuce or a 3.  I checked, the original raiser checked, and then the aggro who had three-bet it preflop shoved.  He had a few bucks less than I did ($130-$140).  Then the Calling Station called (he had the first guy covered).  OK, that was good enough for me.  He called everything preflop, and maybe on the flop as well, but I hadn’t seen him make a lot of calls on the river unless he had a hand. And there was still the original raiser behind me.  So even though there weren’t a lot of draws out there, I had to figure one of these two players had at least a 7.I folded, as did the preflop raiser.

Aggro tells Calling Station, “good call” and shows Queen-Jack off (which he had three-bet preflop with).  In other words, he had nothing. Surely Calling Station had a 7 right?  I mean, he would have called $15 preflop with 7-deuce, easy.  But no, no, he had pocket 10’s.  Pocket 10’s?  Well, he was a calling station but he was smart enough to make a good read on the aggro.  More than I can say!  Actually, I think I made a pretty good read on the Aggro, but a bad read on the Calling Station….which I should have taken into account before folding.

All in all, I butchered that hand pretty badly and lost what would have been a real nice pot.

A while later I had King-8 of hearts in the big blind.  It was raised to $12 but there were already two callers when it got to me.  I’m sure most of you would have folded there but no, I called (sorry, Coach).  I guess I was thinking of those drawing cards you get for flushes or better.

The flop had the Ace of hearts and two non-hearts, neither of which hit me.  But it was checked around. 

The turn card was a second heart, still no pair, either for me or the board.  The aggro bet $25 and the Calling Station—are you ready?—called.  So with a draw to the nut flush, I called and the other player folded.

The river was not a heart.  It was a King.  I checked, and the aggro bet $35.  This time Calling Station folded.  For the size of the pot, it was a fairly easy call.  Besides, hadn’t I just seen him bluff and get caught?  When I called, he insta-mucked and said, “I thought you were gonna fold.”  What’s that saying?  “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, I pity the fool”?

Or something like that.

A bit later I had pocket Queens in late position and the aggro led out for $15.  I made it $40.  Only the aggro called.  The flop was low and he checked and I bet $60 and he folded.  “Your Aces are good,” he said.  Hey, I can three-bet with QQ against a maniac like you, fella! (No, I didn’t say that, I said nothing.)

I won a few small pots after that and left with a small profit. The Calling Station made a few too many calls and eventually busted out, by the way. It was an ok night (sure beats losing) but I played one hand really badly and also didn’t get paid on my straight flush.  As I said before, you just don’t get enough practice playing those monsters.


  1. I'm still waiting for the hand history against the Belgian guy where you 3bet and led large...

    1. You'll just have to wait a little longer. I'd rather play than blog, at least for the moment......

    2. oh man Rob....where do I begin?

      You can NEVER EVER check the mortal nuts on the river. you must try for some value there. I once read somewhere that when you are ina poker situation and you don't know what to do...bet 2/3rds pot....it can never be very wrong....I think that applies here.

      On the AK hand....you are in there with an aggro and a calling station....what are we losing to on that flop? AA, KK and a random 7. I am never folding that hand on that runout....no straight or flush possible and you have essentially the 3rd nuts...AND EVERYONE CHECKED THE TURN...they are going to have to show me the goods there.

      As to the K8 soooted ok you are getting decent odds here ....there is $39 in the pot and it xosts you $10 to see a flop....but lets look at an estimated value of these flush tickets.

      The odds of flopping a flush draw with two suited cards is about 9-1 (11%)

      Lets say your odds of getting your ticket drawn are one in ten...and the value of the ticket is between $100 and $500 weighted heavily toward the $!00 range...lets say $150...so that would make the value of a ticket about $20.

      then you have to factor in the many times you aren't chasing the nut flush and could lose the pot to a higher flush (everybody is going to be playing suited Aces herer for the same reasons)

      It all adds up to the promo not being a great value...as most promotions like that arent even though they appear to be on the surface.

      My suggestion...play your suited Aces when you can make the nuts and win a big pot against a smaller flush...AND get a ticket....but don't chase every suited sombo for a raise

    3. Appreciate all the feedback, bill, thanks!

      Regarding playing for those damn drawing tickets, I know I get sucked into playing suited hands more than I should, it's -EV. I'm trying to wean myself off that habit. But when it gets closer to the drawing time and I'm trying to get one more ticket, I tend to play a few hands I shouldn't.

      I've seen lots of people not betting the nuts on the river trying to get the other guy to bet when he would likely fold to a bet. So it's a tough call.But yeah, betting is more likely a better way to go, 2/3's is a good fallback play. I'll keep that in mind.

  2. MR T? WTF.GEEZ.if u r coming out then fine but damm. LMAO.kidding. anyway,we had a player like that one night . when ,we use to play 5-10 limit on the suncruz casino. he saw every flop. 3bet preflop? call.anyway,the funny things about it was 1)he basically broke even 4 the session which show that poker is a net zero game.2)every pot he was in with this regular in game, if it got heads up . he beat him.better flush.better hi card. better pair.3) when the action got to him everytime preflop. he would ask how much was the bet. it was so funny bcuz u r thinking does it matter. u know u r calling. it got so funny .he asked what the bet was and the reg that he was constantly beating. finally, just blew up and said what i think us of us were thinking"what does it matter ? u r calling." also it is limit ,so the bet is alway 5 preflop and flop and 10 on turn and river.even the dealer was gettting a little annoyed. man, i miss those days lol

    1. Thanks, anger. Next post should have a pic more to your liking.

      This reminds me of when I was playing 2-4 and a player would be there all night and never stop asking, "Can I bet 2? Can I raise 4? What's the most I can bet.?"

      You see a lot of calling stations at low limit but in a NL game, this guy really stood out because he never, ever folded.

    2. i hope so.lol. too true.i just thought it was so funny that those kind of ppl ask how much is the bet bcuz u know they r calling

  3. Replies
    1. I remember this one from high school.....when in doubt, whip it out.

    2. .sounds like something mark damone from fast times at ridgemont high would say lol

  4. Hi Bob,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and I always wondered if you keep track of your sessions as to whether or not your a winning player in NL holdem....or are you strictly a recreational player and do not see the need to keep such records?

    1. I have started keeping track, Jumper. I am a (slightly) winning player but not enough to be anything more than a recreational player.