Cold Call in Poker is Still Ok

cold call poker

Poker is continuously evolving. With it, comes new ideas that catch on and new ways of playing that appear revolutionary. Sometimes a new idea can be amazing and the best thing since sliced bread. Other times it’s awful but people don’t like to say it is or perhaps don’t see it. One idea circulating around poker the last year or two is the idea that one should never be making a cold call in poker cash games. This concept has resonated with many players and convinced people to alter strategy radically. This article will look at the problems with only re raising or folding and reasons why a cold call is perfectly fine.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is a cold call in poker?

It’s where a player calls an initial pre flop raise when he/she was not invested. It’s commonly associated with a player who calls after a raise and call or raise and 3 bet.

3 Betting too much

To advocate only ever folding or 3 betting means you are going to have to 3 bet a lot of hands. Let’s say you have pocket 3s facing an early position raise from a tight player. Are you seriously thinking a 3 bet is good here? You will likely face 4 bets or being called by big pairs. The very best scenario you can hope for is that your opponent has AK/AQ and will be kind enough to flat call, then miss, and check down with you. By choosing to only ever play 3 bet or fold poker, you will be 3 betting far too much. Attentive players will pick up on this and can drastically widen their 4-bet range. Sure, you’ll get more action but you will also lose a lot of money in 3 bets.

High Variance

Professionals are unanimous that variance and luck is the enemy of the winning player. The best players are not casino gamblers looking to flip coins and put all their money in bad shape. They want to make money on the back of good decision making. Employing a style that involves only playing pots that are 3 bet pots leads to bigger pots on the flop and more volatility. If you are happy to play this style, more power to you, but ensure you have a very large bankroll when you do.

Knocking out the fishes?

By never making a cold call in poker, you’re likely to only ever play heads up pots. You’re also eliminating the chance to play with other weaker players at the table. This is true on most sites, particularly the American ones. Our friends USA poker site list can help you find these. I accept that your equity in a hand drops the more players that are involved, but you’re less invested and should welcome playing pots with bad players. Why would you want to make them fold ace rag or K9 by 3 betting the reg at the table? It makes no sense to me.

Poker is a people game. It’s fluid and unpredictable. If everyone took to a never cold calling mentality, poker may as well be played by robots.

Let’s look at 4 reasons why making a cold call in poker is not just fine, but actually better than only 3 betting or folding.

Cheap flops

Don’t you love playing poker? Being involved in hands like J9 suited for just a couple blinds? I love being able to play hands that are speculative and trying to make a hand that can bust a donkey. If you decide to never cold call, you will either be 3 betting and trying to win it pre flop or just folding. No more cheap flops.

Playing poker in position

One of my favourite things about Texas Hold’em is playing post flop poker, in position. Even if you told me my opponent had me crushed before the flop. It doesn’t matter too much to me, if stacks are deep and I have position. If you are choosing to never cold call in poker, you are going to play less pots in position. Bad players will call your 3 bets and you will get to play more, but it isn’t the same is it? You may have enough money to get to the turn and have a pot sized bet left. It’s not real poker and you’re not taking advantage of the informational advantage position gives you. You’re wasting position.

Multi-way poker improves you

Making a cold call in poker entices other players to enter the pot. I will often think to throw away 4-6 suited to a single raise but want to call if another player calls in front of me. Players don’t love playing multi-way, and with good reason, but it does improve you as a player. Being in lots of different scenarios, with different opponents and stack sizes is beneficial to your personal poker development. These situations will make you a better player. The more experience you get, the more accustomed, less nervous and more proficient you will be overall. Do you want to become a one trick pony or an all-round player? Are you competent heads up? Out of position? Playing from the blinds?

Setting traps

Making a cold call in poker can be a way of trapping. It’s fine to occasionally flat call a monster hand, knowing you may get a squeeze from one of the regs, or perhaps a fish overplaying a weaker hand. It’s a great way to mislead your opponents and disguise your hand. Player’s never give you credit for aces or kings when you flat call. Trust me. If you call an initial raise with aces and someone 3 bets behind you with jacks, they rarely fold and often jam thinking you have 8s/9s and taking a stand against a squeeze. I appreciate that the 3-bet strategy can be setting a trap if you over use the 3 bet but it’s a more costly one. If you don’t get squeezed, its not the end of the world. Playing a flop with a big pair isn’t so bad.

Final comments

I am a big fan of calling raises still in poker. Of course, there are situations when it’s better to re raise or fold, but not universally. It’s a waste of value for suited connectors, low pairs, and low suited aces. Why would you give up the value of hands that play beautifully post flop? Hands that rely on investing little to win lots? A day may come when I am proved wrong on this issue. For now, I will be on the its ok to cold call in poker bandwagon. If you have any comments or feedback, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: