Most players know all of the available actions in a poker hand (check, call, fold, raise). These four terms are learned right away, but there are more to learn. For example, knowing the meaning of terms like “flat call” can help you develop new strategies.

What is a flat call in poker?

We’ll talk about the definition of flat calling, which hands are more suitable for it, and which methods can train you for these spots. By the end, you’ll be very familiar with flat calling and know exactly how to use this move.

Flat calling is not the same as regularly calling, because of your intentions

Flat calling is a tricky technique that can be used to hide the strength of your cards, among other things.

In poker, you don’t always need to play straightforwardly. If you’re dealt pocket Aces, sometimes raise or reraise, but don’t be too predictable. Sometimes the strength of your hand needs to be hidden to lure your opponent into a trap.

A flat call is a passive line to take. You’re just matching the bet from another player. This action can be used as a deception technique, also called “slow-playing” (not the same as “slow-rolling”).

You need to understand that flat-calling will be most effective in pots where you find yourself heads-up with your opponent. In a multi-way pot, the equity of your hand (even with pocket Aces) is significantly reduced with each additional player in the hand. Also, letting everyone get a free peek at the flop isn’t a great idea (unless it’s a freeroll tournament).

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Be selective with the starting hands you choose to flat-call with. It shouldn’t be done with your entire range. Avoid making this move with a weak or medium-strength hand since you’ll create a difficult postflop situation. You’ll face more bets from your opponent and miss the flop ‌too often.

There’s no set-in-stone range of starting hands with which it is correct to flat call. That range will differ for every table. Use these tips to get an idea of which hands to use:

  • Choose strong starting combinations: This applies to hands such as pocket Aces, Kings, Queens, or suited Ace-King combinations. This way, you create the impression that you do not have a “monster” in your hands, but a more average-strength hand. When calling a bet preflop with Queens or Kings, it is important to be prepared for the dealer to show an overcard – and to have a plan B if this happens.
  • Consider flat calling with the nuts: To avoid spooking an aggressive opponent, it’s sometimes better to choose a passive line of play. Choose your hands carefully. For example, a made ♥ flush on the flop with a hand like 3♥ 4♥ is not the best combination for a passive play. Any heart that appears on the turn or river will seriously reduce the equity of your hand.
Slow-playing with 2-3 suited in such a situation is extremely dangerous

There are several typical situations when using a flat call would be justified.

  1. Big Blind defense: On one hand, a reraise from the BB always looks very strong. On the other hand, calling is a more standard action. This means that your opponent may think that you will easily give up on one, maximum two bets postflop. However, it is important to understand that against the entire table (except the small blind) you will be playing out of position, which makes the hand more difficult.
  2. Hoping to provoke a squeeze: This creates a dangerous situation, since you may not get the expected squeeze from someone at the table. If nobody raises after your flat call, you risk playing a multi-way pot. However, if you have notes on one of the opponents, it may be less risky.
  3. Playing on the button: Let's say one of the opponents made an open raise from an early position. You don't want to scare him away with a 3-bet from the button and so, you just flat call. This action can have a double effect:
  • The small and big blind might be tempted to squeeze (3-bet).
  • You are not showing any strength – so the preflop aggressor will likely continue his line postflop.

There are several ways to call that you might not know the term for.

  • Cold call: A call from a player who has not previously taken any action in the hand. For example, you are on the button. There was a raise and a 3-bet before you preflop. If you call a three-bet, this action will be called a cold call. Cold calling is often played by beginners who put themselves in a difficult situation.
  • Insta-call and snap call: These names are for the action of lightning-fast calls, where there’s no visible hesitation. It doesn’t happen that often in live poker, except when a player has the absolute nuts and his opponent is all-in.
  • Hero call: This is when you call your opponent's bet holding a not-so-strong hand that only beats a small amount of bluffs. Some hero calls are great, and some are legendary, like the infamous Jack-four hand.
Calling a large bet on such a board is a clear example of a hero call: you only have ace-high

Effective Ways to Learn Poker Skills

Anyone can learn to win at poker by applying themselves correctly. The game has simple rules that can be understood in an hour, but this will not be enough to play profitably over a long period. Skill is important, needing constant improvement and cultivation.

Everyone is looking for their own approach to learning. We recommend starting with the basics, like poker combinations and our simple guide on how to play poker.

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If coaching or poker schools interest you, send one of your support staff a message. We’re online 24/7.

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