There are many misconceptions within poker and one such misconception is in how actions like limping and calling raises are weak poker plays. This is where it can get very confusing because these actions are often the sign of a weak poker player. There is a very simple reason as to why that is the case and it is because when weak poker players take these actions then they tend to be the first stage of a line that is weak from start to finish. So what is the difference between a good player calling a raise with 5c-5d and a bad player doing it?
The difference lies not what they have done pre-flop but how they play the hand post flop. For example the weak player will call the raise without many thoughts on their implied odds or in how to win the pot without making the best hand. The bottom line is that they play what is called “fit or fold” poker. This means that they do not continue with their hand unless they hit a five for a set in this instance. This is not a bad strategy if several factors are in place which tend to be several opponents of which some are weak and thus far higher implied odds.
When implied odds are hit as a result of your opponents being far superior then calling raises with the intention of playing fit or fold simply is a losing strategy over the long term. Now let us compare that to a strong player that calls a raise with 5c-5d. The flop comes 10d-7h-4s and their opponent makes a c-bet. This is where we often get diversification because the weak player will fold. Some very weak players simply call down and are known as “calling stations”.
This is also massively exploitable because your opponents will simply value bet you to death with a much wider range of holdings. Strong players may raise the flop for two reasons. Firstly they have some fall back equity with the pocket pair but mainly to put pressure onto a hand like big cards that have failed to connect with the board. So you can see how a strong player can win the pot by also making the best hand but also retains the possibility of winning the pot without making a strong hand as well.