What Hands Should You Call a Preflop Raise With?

Not many. I don’t need to talk too much about calling a raise because you shouldn’t be doing it very often! This is another common leak of players at these limits. Even though we know that we need to adjust our opponent’s range depending on their position, it doesn’t mean that we want to be calling them very often.

And this just goes back to the importance of having the initiative in the hand. Calling is a passive play just like limping. It is much more profitable to be in control. So most of the time when facing a raise we should either be looking to 3bet or fold.

However, there are some situations where calling a raise preflop is the best option. There are 3 in fact.

1. You have a pocket pair and you want to set mine.

Calling with a small to mid pocket pair in order to set mine is by far the most frequent situation in which I will call a preflop raise. Set mining is incredibly profitable at the micros since most players have a difficult time folding an overpair or top pair type hand.

We don’t want to fold these types of hands preflop to a raise because they can hit the flop extremely hard and win us a huge pot. However, we don’t want to 3bet with them either, because we can’t stand a 4bet and we will often have a difficult time winning the pot when called. So calling is usually the best option. I will have much more to say about set mining in a bit.

2. You have a big ace or a fairly big pair and don’t want to 3bet.

I rarely just call a raise with my big aces (AK, AQ) and I 3bet quite frequently with hands like QQ and JJ as well. But there are a couple situations where calling might be a better option. The most common one by far is when a nit opens in EP. As we discussed above, someone’s range is usually at its tightest in EP. And nits are already very tight to begin with. These hands are far too strong to fold preflop. But there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to 3bet in this spot either since our opponent’s range is so strong. So calling is often the best option here.

3. You have a speculative hand IP and there is a fish involved in the pot.

And lastly, as mentioned, playing against the fish is of vital importance no matter what stakes you play. These guys lose money at a truly incredible rate and you should go out of your way to get involved in pots with them.

So if I see that a fish is already in the pot I will often call with a wide variety of speculative hands such as suited connectors, suited aces and broadways. On the contrary, I will often fold these hands outright to a raise if there are no fish in the pot. Lastly, I want to be IP at all costs with these types of hands. Therefore I will usually fold if I am in the blinds regardless of who is in the pot.

So just to sum up, if the pot has been opened before me, I am looking to either 3bet or fold the vast majority of the time. And usually fold. I want to have the initiative if at all possible and I have no problem folding some reasonable looking hands if I know that I can’t get it.

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