Calling is one of the options a player has when it is his turn to talk in the round. These basic actions are call, raise or fold. Call is used to call the bet that the previous player has made. Commonly, when someone calls it is said to “go” or “call”.

Raise is used to raise the bet. It is not only done by someone who “goes”, but who is so sure that his cards are better than those of the opponents who have bet before, that he increases the bet.

A raise can be called a fold, a term used in poker to mean a doubling of the previous bet. There are several modalities of raise and different ways of approaching it. Even as a bluff, or simply to start playing with authority (preflop raise).

Fold is the action that a player who wants to fold can take. By folding, the player is discarded from the round and must wait for the next street to continue playing.

Flat call in poker: what it is

These three actions hide a whole world of possibilities. In this post we are going to focus on the call, the action of calling, and we are going to see what the differences are between what is known as a flat call, a smooth call and a cold call.

In poker, we call a flat call the action of calling with a marginal hand, both preflop and postflop. It is something that is usually done with a continuation bet or when we are 3-bet.

Actually, the term “flat call” is redundant, because both words refer to the fact of calling. The flat as a poker strategy is interesting because it can be used in multiple situations.

For example, a flat call when you manage to hit a monster or a powerful play is a real help in the framework of a conscientious slow play. This will put us in an advantageous position on later streets.

It is also a recommended action when we want to be in sync with the pot. Let’s develop this. If the pot is getting fat, something we are interested in with a strong hand, we most likely don’t want to x-ray our play. So, we will try to be in tune with the pot, favoring our play to keep getting fatter, but not too fatter. A flat call is helpful when we want to fatten the pot, but just enough.

Smooth call in poker: what is it?

Let’s talk now about the smooth call. A smooth call is often used as a synonym of flat call and can be used interchangeably.

Therefore, we are talking about a smooth call, which is helpful to limit the pot increases and that makes our continuity in the hand flow by matching bets, but in a very flat and smooth way, ideal for keeping low profiles in situations such as hitting a monster.

Is it the same as a hero call? Not at all. In fact, we can say that they are antonyms, because a hero call is to call a bet on the river in an unexpected way, with the odds against, leaving in tilt the one who was already the winner.

There are contexts in which it will pay to pay the bluffs, and wait until the river to uncover them with a hero call. It is a very good strategy to make the pot bigger and to discover those who have been bluffing all the way to the last street, but it is something reserved for the pros, since paying bluffs that you are seeing that they are bluffs exposes you to unnecessary risks if your hand is not good enough.

Therefore, a smooth call in poker is considered the same as a flat call: a flat, soft and light call that limits pot raises and keeps a low profile in the round. A hero call is a call made on the river to uncover bluffs.

Just a nuance: a smooth call is usually a call made, preflop or postflop, with the best possible hand. A flat call is not necessarily made with the best possible hand, but also with marginal hands, although the concept is the same and the only difference is the range of hands of the player who calls.

Cold call in poker: what it is

Let’s talk now about cold calling. Cold calling is a concept associated with somewhat daring players. A cold call consists in calling a preflop bet against a player, without having invested any money in the pot before the hand.

Cold calls are very typical in poker tournaments, especially those with lower buy-ins. It is also a common play in freeroll tournaments. 

Abusing cold calls can be bad because cold calls are usually associated with players who are not too strong. This symptom of weakness can compromise them in postflop play. Hence it is almost always recommended to raise or re-raise interspersed with cold calls.

When playing IP it can be a good idea to cold call. Cold calls with marginal or not too strong hands can work, but they are not a good option with big hands. It can compromise your flop and make you lose the hand if you don’t manage it well.

In addition, with big stacks a cold call does not give any advantage, and if we manage big stacks what we are interested in is to make the pot grow, not to call cold.

Basic differences between them

In short: a flat call and a smooth call can be considered synonyms, but with nuances. The former is used more with marginal cards, and the latter with the best possible hand.

These flat calls and smooth calls have nothing to do with hero calls, which are actions to match bets made on the river to uncover bluffs and turn the tables of the game.

Coldcalling, on the other hand, is the action of making a cold call, by which the preflop bet of the previous player is called without having put money in the pot yet.