Featured Guest Blog Post by Zachary Elwood, author of the critically acclaimed book Reading Poker Tells, shares his knowledge on immediate calls in Poker. You can visit his website to purchase the book here and to learn more about Reading Poker Tells.
One of the most important bet-timing tells is the immediate call, also called the “snap call.”
When a player calls a bet immediately (and assuming there is still money behind and action left), it’s telling you that they consider their hand obviously strong enough for a call but not worthy of considering for a raise. Most players, when they have strong hands, will at least consider raising for a few seconds, even if they end up just calling. So an immediate call will narrow down a player’s range to medium-strength hands.
For example, a player with A8, on a board of AK9, may call a pre-flop raiser’s continuation-bet immediately, because he believes his hand is obviously worth a call but also obviously not strong enough to raise with. A player with AK, on a board of A26, will be unlikely to snap-call, even if he does end up calling, because he will most probably think for a couple seconds about the merits of raising. Most players with strong hands are concerned foremost with maximizing value, and this is why this tell can be so important.
Another example: you raise and the flop comes 882. You c-bet and your opponent calls immediately. It is very unlikely that they have an 8.
This tell is most useful on the flop and on the turn. Pre-flop, it is less useful, because there are many strong hands (for example, AQ, AJs, JJ, depending on the player) that a player may not consider a raise with. But a player calling a pre-flop raise immediately can still be useful for removing very strong hands like AA, KK, and QQ from a range.
This can even be an important tell online. Online, it’s often hard to trust the reliability of how long it takes someone to act, because someone could be multi-tabling, or could be away from the computer for a few seconds. The nice thing about the immediate call is that there’s no faking it. If a player who usually takes a couple seconds to act in most spots is now calling quickly, there’s a reason for it. And most of the time, that reason is going to be that they are vulnerable.
The question then becomes what to do with that information. If I’m playing with a player who usually takes a few seconds to call and now I bet the flop or the turn and the player calls immediately, this information is going to make it more likely for me to bluff the next street, knowing that they are most probably in defensive mode.
This isn’t as simple as it at first sounds; there are a few other factors that go into snap-calls, such as: the size of the bet (smaller bets are more likely to be snap-called with a wide range), the texture of the board, the length of time a first-to-act player takes to bet, the typical amount of time a snap-caller takes to act, and the dynamic between the two players (very aggressive players are more likely to be snap-called). But generally, it’s a good rule to assign medium-strength value to people who call immediately, provided you haven’t witnessed opposing information.
Zach Elwood is the author of Reading Poker Tells, and he writes more about immediate calls and other bet-timing poker tells on his blog www.readingpokertells.com.
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