Hero call: how to make the correct call & win with a marginal hand
Make the call
A hero call is one you make holding a poor hand because you’re sure your opponents have a worse one! It’s not about going all-in with a 7-2, that’s suicide, but calling with ace-high when someone’s raised you all-in on the river.
Working through a hand, you’ll get a feeling you’ve got the right odds with a mediocre set of cards. You can play poker all your life and never make a hero call so use all the information you can gather through the hand to decide whether a marginal call is profitable.
In this example the table is deep-stacked and everyone has limped round to the player in the big blind position who has made a big raise. The other players fold but you decide to call from the small blind with 6♦ 4♦. The flop is Q♣ 10♥ 2♦ so you could be forgiven for thinking you’re done with the hand.
But then the player who raised pre-flop decides to check. They’re either trying to get some value out of you or they’ve just missed out on the hand they were expecting from the flop. The turn gives a 7♦ and you both check again.
The river brings a 6♠ so you’ve got a pair, but it’s only the fourth-best pair on the board so you check again. Suddenly, your opponent bets just under the pot. This is confusing behaviour, as they could just turn over their hand for free if they are confident of winning the pot. If they had a big hand they could have raised you earlier and got more money out of you. You call and win the hand after your opponent shows A♠ K♥. You have just made a hero call!
Adjust your game
As with everything in poker, you have to adjust to the players, the table and the hand. If you’re out of position and have tried to control the pot, be aware that you look weak to your opponent and they might use that to their advantage. Be prepared to call a lot more on the river, even if a scary looking card appears. If a scare card appears on the river after you’ve called or checked your way through the hand and your opponent still puts money in the pot, you’re in a conundrum. They might have a big hand, trying to get you to give up some money, or they might be trying to force you out. Use the pot odds to decide if it’s worth taking the risk.
Be wary of players trying to make money out of you by tempting you to add your chips to the pot with a bad hand. There’s a fine line between making a good but thin call and paying off like a slot machine.
Remember: never make a hero call to show off – do it because it’s the right thing to do