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The Mysteries of Cold Calling Preflop

The act of cold calling preflop divides opinion, with some going as far as claiming it is the move of an amateur. With that in mind, are there any merits to the preflop call? Should you do it, or is it the number one cardinal sin to avoid when sitting at a poker table?

The Move of an Amateur?

Cold calling preflop is the act of calling a preflop raise, instead of folding or three-betting. It's generally considered to be a weak move, as there is very little equity is calling an opponent's bet this early in the hand.

To begin with, it is highly likely that the initial raiser has a strong hand, immediately putting them at an advantage. Even if the cold caller connects with the flop, there is a chance they are still behind their opponent, increasing the risk of losing a large chunk of their stack. Secondly, by playing passively, the cold caller loses control of the table, inviting pressure from one or multiple opponents.

When faced with a preflop raise, it's considered better to either fold or three-bet. By three-betting instead of calling, you increase the chances of isolating your opponent from the rest of the table, increasing your odds of victory. It also makes your hand seem stronger than it might actually be, handing you a greater opportunity to bluff your way to success.

There are occasions where a cold call is acceptable, but these are rarer and generally dependant on factors such as the strength and personality of your opponents. For instance, if you're facing a player that is either super aggressive or tilting, you might consider cold calling in order to catch them in a trap. Cold calling is also a good way to invite multiple players into a pot, however, this also increases your risk of being beaten, so you must ensure you have a very strong hand in order to pull this off.

Bet, Fold or Call?

Poker is a game of strategy and sometimes it can be a good idea to mix things up in order to throw your opponents off guard. However, when it comes to cold calling preflop, it's always a good idea to consider whether folding or three-betting would be a better option, especially if you're playing strong or conservative opponents.

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