What is a ‘Call’?
A Call, in poker, is when a player chooses to match a bet placed at the table, rather than folding or raising. Once a bet has been placed at the table, all other players must ‘call’ and match the bet to remain in the game until the next phase.
If a player chooses to raise, by betting a higher amount than the previous bet, the other players will need to call the higher bet (or raise again.)
If players do not wish to call or raise, they must fold, sitting out the hand and losing any money they have contributed to the pot from previous bets, calls, raises, blinds or antes. The play will thus continue when all players have bet an equal amount (excepting all-in players.)
The Call explained
Calling – matching a bet – is considered a passive move in the game, in contrast to the more aggressive ‘raising’. Many poker strategy guides, particularly for beginners, will advocate a ‘tight-aggressive’ style of play, encouraging players to play fewer hands and to raise when in a good position.
However, more experienced players with strong hands may use calling to deceive opponents into thinking they lack confidence due to a strong hand. This is known as ‘slow playing’ – the appearance of playing passively by calling is intended to encourage other players into reacting aggressively by raising. This helps the play to earn more money from winning hands, where a very large bet could scare other players into folding. Calling can, therefore, be a complex move in poker, with many possible ways to interpret it, depending on both the player and the situation.