MCU poker tip: Sometimes call with bad odds

On that last (river) card in 7-stud games, you want to be able to make good laydowns sometimes. Of course, mostly you’re supposed to call unless you have strong reasons not to, because the pot is usually very large relative to the size of that call.

The rewards overwhelm the risks. Fine, but if you take poker seriously, you will look for opportunities to make quality laydowns. Overall, these save you money. Sometimes you can fold a strong hand when it’s obvious that your opponent must have you beat.


But wait! You usually don’t want your opponents to know you folded a strong hand, otherwise they’ll be inspired to take shots at you in the future and steal whole pots when you least suspect it. And that applies to other forms of poker, not just stud.

For this reason, I seldom fold strong-looking hands on the river in 7-stud. If I have aces-up with aces showing among my face-up cards, I’m less likely to fold than if I have aces-up with no pair showing.


Once an opponent realizes that I’m making rational laydowns with quality hands, I’m a target. I’d much rather have opponents think I’m going to call everything unless I have nothing.

My general philosophy of poker is that I want to compete against loose, meek opponents who call me but don’t bet into me. I don’t want those players to learn a new trick and start bluffing unexpectedly, simply because I seem to have folded a strong hand. If that happens, opponents who almost never bluff start to bluff occasionally and take a whole pot from you once in a while — instead of never.


If I can promote their weakness without inspiring them to improve, I’ll often call, even if it’s against the odds. When I have powerful cards showing, I’m often going to make that call, despite any slight-to-moderate disadvantage. — MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.

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