Calling is often the safe bet in a game of poker. Calling is a good way to keep the stakes low and keep the pot at a smaller size when you don’t have the nuts or aren’t so sure about your hand. However, if you consistently fall back on calling you are only hurting yourself in the long run.
This may come as a surprise to many poker players. However, there is a very good reason why calling can hurt your poker strategy. When you consistently call you don’t have the opportunity to read the other players’ betting patterns to discover things that you could use against them. For instance, many players will stay in when you call with any hand. However, there are players who will fold when you bet or raise if they are even the slightest bit insecure about their hand. If you never call or raise then you may never find this out, losing you more hands than necessary.
Some players who are used to slower, less aggressive poker play may feel uncomfortable with betting and raising. The good news is that it gets easier with practice – trust me. Try it out starting with free practice games online or with low limit cash games, small buy-in tournaments and freerolls. Before you know it you’ll be betting and raising like a pro and noticing patterns to help you win more when you play poker, online and off.