How To Beat a Calling Station Every Time

Learn how to identify a calling station and discover how to beat them at the poker table

Every poker player has crossed swords with a calling station at some point in their career. They mostly frequent low stakes online poker cash games, but all levels house these frustrating creatures.

Most people who struggle to beat a calling station are their own worst enemy. You’ll find out why soon enough. We need to look at what a calling station is and what their tendencies are before we learn how to combat them. So let’s do exactly that.

What Is A Calling Station?

Have you ever come across an opponent who finds it difficult to lay down any hand. They call you down on all streets if they connect with the board in any way shape or form. You have met a calling station, my friend.

Let’s get one thing straight before we get into the guts of this article. A calling station is not a good poker player, not even a remotely decent one. They win money when luck is on their side. Their win rate has little-to-nothing to do with their poker skills.

Their biggest downfall is their inability to fold a hand. Folding and conserving chips is as important as betting and winning them. Even Kenny Rogers sang about the concept in the song The Gambler.

Why do players struggle against a calling station if they’re so bad at poker? Like a lot of things in poker, it’s because they fail to adapt to their opponent.

Why Do Players Struggle Against Calling Stations?

Failing to adapt to a calling station opponent is the number one reason for losing money to them. They play their usual game and allow the calling station to help themselves to their stack.

This is true of all player types. Loose-aggressive, loose-passive, or tight-aggressive, it doesn’t matter. Fail to adapt and you fail to hold onto your chips.

How Do You Beat These Players?

Study your opponents before trying to devise a strategy to combat them. There’s a train of thought that says you make more money from poker doing the opposite of your opponents.

For example, tighten up when playing loose players, and loosen up against tight players. Take advantage of their weaknesses and you won’t go far wrong.

We’ve already agreed a calling station calls too much, so let’s use that against them. Reduce, if not completely stop bluffing them. Just don’t do it because they’re going to call anyway. I’ve lost count of the money I’ve lost bluffing on the river of a 2c-Qd-4s-9s-Ah board after being called down and my opponent shows something ridiculous like 6c-4s.

Your bluffs will be called so save yourself some chips and your sanity and stop bluffing a calling station.

The majority of poker players with a solid grasp of the game have set bet amounts. They bet the same whether they’ve got a made hand or a drawing hand to disguise their strength. These opponents don’t care what size bet you make; they’re calling it anyway!

This leads us down the path of another area to attack. First, make larger bets with strong, made hands. Your bet size is player dependent but bet as much as you can get away with. Flopped a set? Bet the size of the pot. Think you have the nuts on the river? Consider an over-bet shove. Betting big allows you to extract a heap of value from this player type. If they will call a $10 bet 100% of the time, they’ll probably call a $20 bet 80% of the time. That’s $16 whenever they call, $6 more than what’s guaranteed. It all adds up in the end.

You should also go for thin value too. You may consider giving up on the river Td-Tc after being check-called on a 3s-6h-7c-7d-6d board against a typical opponent. Bet for value against a calling station and get shown some bizarre hands!

One thing to note is be very weary when a calling station shows some aggression. They’ll sometimes lead out and take a feeble stab at the pot. Don’t worry too much about that. Be more concerned when they put in a raise, particularly on the turn, because they almost certainly have a monster.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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