The recipe that leads to this frequent error is a simple one: low-stakes players play too many hands, and they don’t 3-Bet nearly as much as they should.

So what exactly is the problem with calling lots of preflop raises?

The biggest issue is one of domination. The hands that people like to call preflop raises with are often dominated by the hands that people like to raise. Really stop and think for a moment about how hands like Ace-Jack, Ace-Ten, King-Ten are faring when a tight, or even a competent player raises.

Frequently seeing flops with dominated hands, and without the aggressive lead, creates a perfect storm for making mistakes.

Another troublesome component is the fact that in low-stakes games, calling breeds more calling. With every call in front of them, players are more likely to also call behind, with all sorts of hands. Since there isn’t a ton of “squeezing” in these games, it just creates lots of bloated multi-way pots.

Multi-way pots are hard to navigate, especially for novice players. As more players enter the pot, your equity in the hand goes down, and the strength of hands needed to continue goes up.  

As if these problems weren’t enough on their own, many players make this mistake of calling too widely when they are in the blinds. They are out of position for the rest of the hand. Calling preflop raises with marginal (and easily dominated) hands is hard enough to hurdle on its own, but when you add in the disadvantage of having to play from out of position, you’re looking at quite the uphill battle.

As was the case with “Too Much Limping”, the quickest fix for calling too many preflop raises is to simply fold some of those hands instead.

Simply put, calling a preflop raise just doesn’t make much sense, and is often the worst of your three options.

If a player is on the tighter side, and raises relatively infrequently, then why are we looking to call him with marginal hands that are easily dominated by his common raising hands? And if a player is on the looser side, and raises quite frequently, shouldn’t we be looking to 3-bet him more?

We have to always remember that we profit in poker by forcing our opponents into mistakes, and avoiding mistakes ourselves.

Far too often in low-stakes games you will see this scenario play out:

  • The table maniac has clearly shown that he is raising far too many hands.
  • Players respond by calling a wider range, inviting other players to do the same, leading to frequent multiway pots with marginal and weak hands.
  • Essentially people are attempting to “draw out” on the maniac.

The beauty of live low-stakes poker is that most players are fairly easy to get a general read on. Use this information, and adjust your preflop calling ranges accordingly.

  • Tighten up your calling range against tight players, who you know are likely to have your marginal hands dominated.
  • Against looser opponents, take a more aggressive strategy, through 3-betting, as opposed to just calling and putting yourself in difficult multi-way postflop scenarios.