Flat-Calling Tactics

It should be rare for you to flat any pre-flop opening raise. You need much better odds to call than is required by deeper stacked players, and almost always do not have enough money behind to speculate. As discussed previously, you need to be getting at least 3 to 1 direct odds against your average opponent. Therefore, there generally need to be two or more people already involved before sufficient odds are obtained. I recommend never flatting with less than 20 big blinds, no matter how good your pot odds are. It is much better to shove or fold these situations.

You must also consider the opening range of the initial raiser. The tighter the player who opened the pot, the more profitable it is to flat their raise with speculative hands. This is because, as a rule, tighter pre-flop ranges are more likely to commit post-flop. Your implied odds are therefore increased when flatting a raise from tight players.

The opposite is true against loose players. Wider ranges are less likely to hit flops, and your implied odds are thus decreased. The exception is if your loose opponent is a complete post-flop maniac and willveryfrequentlypayyouoffwhenyouconnect. Justkeepinmindthatyoushouldbewidening your post-flop stack off range against these types of players as well.

You also want to avoid flatting with hands that are easily dominated. Hands like KJ, KT, QT, Q9, and Ax hands weaker than AJ can get you in a ton of trouble. Much better are all suited connectors 32s to QJs or mid non-suited connectors like T9o or 98o. Any pair that cannot profitably shove is good as well.

Here are the guidelines I use when considering calling a pre-flop raise. In most situations, all of these factors need to be going for you in order to contemplate a call:

You have a hand that can flop a monster that does not have reverse-implied odds problems. The hand is multi-way with at least one other caller already in.
There are no aggressive squeezers behind you.
You have direct pre-flop pot odds of at least 3 to 1.

Shoving does not appear to be profitable.

Just remember that the majority of the time you will not flop big, so make sure you don’t get married to mediocre post-flop hands. Because you had good implied odds for making the pre-flop call, it is not necessary to commit unless you flop very well. You should only be looking to commit with hands that either have your opponent crushed or, at least, have very good equity against their range.

Hands to stack off with post-flop after flatting with speculative holdings:

  • Flushes, Straights, and Full Houses
  • Two-pair
  • Sets or Trips
  • Open-ended Straight Draws
  • Flush Draws
  • Combo Draws

Notice that top pair is not in the list. It does not mean you will not be committing with that hand, it just means it is not always a sure thing.

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