If you have any time at all on the tables, be it online or live, you have had to deal with bad players that we lovingly refer to as calling stations. If you don’t think that you have, you are probably one of them. A calling station is someone that will not make a raise pre-flop unless they are sitting on a monster, will probably rarely raise post flop and will call you down if they hit any portion of the flop, including bottom pair with a weak kicker.
You can make a lot of money off of these players, but you can also cost yourself a lot if you don’t know how to react to them. Online is easy as you can take notes and when you sit down at a table you will already know their style. If you are playing live, you are going to have to pay attention to every hand and make sure you pick up on their play. Once you have them identified, you can adjust your play accordingly when they are in a hand.
Calling stations are notorious for passive play. They will usually only raise pre-flop with hands like AA, KK, QQ, AK, JJ, 1010. Anything else, they will tend to call down any raise prior to the flop and pray to the poker gods that they hit something. If they did raise pre-flop with a hand and do not hit, they will more than likely check. However, keep in mind that if they raised with a hand like 1010 and the flop comes out K72, they are going to check, but if you bet, they are going to call you all the way down to the river in the hopes that somehow their 1010 will hold up.
A perfect example of a calling station hand would be you are dealt AQ and the station has A3. You pre-flop raise and are called. Flop comes out K-10-3. You fire and the station calls. Turn card comes out as a 7. You bet and the station calls. River card is an 8. You now have 4 over cards and a possible straight on board. You fire a river bet and are called and lose the hand because the station made one of his cards and cannot let it go. Does it make sense? Absolutely not, but it happens time and again.
How you change your play is going to be dictated after the flop and what happens on that first bet. If a calling station makes a pre-flop raise and then fires again on the flop, you can be pretty certain that they have either hit their hand or are sitting on a pocket over pair. They do not comprehend continuation bet so you are all but guaranteed that they are alive and well in the hand. If you haven’t hit, just dump the hand and wait to catch them later.
If you pre-flop raise and then fire a continuation bet on a missed flop, they will call you if they have anything working off of that flop. You have to fire that continuation bet, but from that point you are going to have to play very cautiously. You can still fire on the turn just in case they are on a draw, but if you miss the river, you are going to want to show them a hand. The amount of money you will save by doing this on the river will more than justify the play.
The bottom line is that you cannot bluff a calling station out of a hand. If they are in after the flop, they have more than likely hit the flop in some way or have some type of draw working. Your river bet is the biggest bet you are going to make in the hand and when you miss and fire, you are dumping chips. If you have a hand, you can absolutely bet as they may be sitting there with bottom pair. However, firing on the river with nothing is just going to decrease your stack against this type of player. Adjust your play and you crush this type of player and avoid losing unnecessary money.