I have been having a lot of trouble with a calling station player recently in tournaments. Although sometimes I have gotten the better of him, he has been a thorn in my side.
Here is what I have observed about his play.
- He limps in nearly every hand, and never raises preflop. Will play any suited hand and many others.
- He will call any raise preflop from any position with junk cards.
- He always limps from SB, and always calls any raise when he is in BB.
- He calls every flop bet regardless of whether he has top pair or nothing at all, but never reraises on the flop. Hence it is almost impossible to put him on a hand or a range.
- He seems to make flushes on the turn or river with a much greater frequency than 1:3
- His usual modus operandi is to call everthing down to the river, then make a bet when he thinks he may be ahead.
In theory it should be very easy to exploit such a player by raising and betting strong hands preflop and betting strongly with good flops, but in practice he is quite crafty and seems to make good results in tournaments, often making final tables. When he loses pots they are small pots, but when he wins them, often with low flushes, they are usually big one.
In the comments box last night he stated that he never seems to get good cards on the final table. I felt like writing a response that the calling-station style of play does not usually do well on final tables, but thought the better of it, as I am still trying to develop a better strategy to counteract him.
Instead of betting the pot when I make top pair or a good draw, betting double the pot. He is more likely to fold, but then I am putting a large percentage of my stack at risk on a marginal hand.
Avoid playing pots that he enters, except with superstrong hands. Problem with this is that he limps almost every pot from any position. If you are seated next to him, folding all heads-up hands is not really an option.
Play smallball poker against him down to the river on every pot and bet or call only your strongest hands at river. The problem with this is that you may flop two pairs, like AQ on the flop after you have raised and he has called and slow play them, only for him to draw to a low flush. On the other hand, if you bet big on the flop, he will still call any flush draw, and if he hits it, your stack is badly damaged.
I know that the logical response is that calling any draw to a flush is a losing strategy, but I don’t like to lose whole stack or be crippled early on chancing it against flush draws.
Perhaps it is just part of the nature of small stack tournaments that everyone must lose except for the winner.
In a tournament last night I was bitterly disappointed (for a few minutes) to go out in 5th place–in the money for sure–even though several players on the Replay tournaments GOAT list went out before me. I guess I just want to win every time, and if some pros can do it with their own hole cards COVERED UP, then my potential for improvement in reading opponents must be infinite.