What is a Hero Call in Poker? When is it OK?

Making the correct decision in a bluff-catching situation can be difficult, but you can make better decisions by focusing on key factors. Knowing your opponent’s tendencies and what hands they are likely to have is essential, as it has a good understanding of the pot odds. 

In this article, we explain what a “hero call” is and when you can make it.

By taking all of this into account, you can make more informed choices in Texas Hold’em game and improve your chances of success.

Explanation of a Hero Call

If you can only beat a bluff, and you still make the call on the river — this is considered a hero call. It’s a lot harder to do when the stakes are higher because we can’t beat anything other than a bluff. And even then, we might not be able to beat all of his bluffing range.

This is not the same as bluff-catching, where we beat all of our opponent’s bluffs.

For a hero calling to be accurate, we need to know the type of hand our opponent is using.

Hero Calls Can Be Part of Your Strategy

It’s not usually a good idea to hero call in poker — only do it if you have a very specific read on your opponent.

For example, if you know they always bluff at a certain point in the hand, then it can be profitable to call even if you lose to some of their bluffs.

If a certain bet size shows that our opponent is always bluffing, we can often make the hero call even if we lose some of their bluffs.

The Number of Times You Can Call Depends on the Bet

When considering whether or not to call a river bet, the size of the bet should be one of your main considerations.

In a hand that Jason McConnon played at $2/$5 Zoom on PokerStars, he faced a flop bet of $27.99 into a pot odds of $103.  His opponent’s small bets on the flop and turn allowed him to call with a larger range than if he had made larger bets.

Bet size divided by (pot size + call size) is the pot odds formula we need to factor in. 

In this case, we would divide the $27.99 call into a total pot of 130.99 giving us 4.67 to 1 odds. In this case, our hero call just needs to be accurate 21.36% of the time to break even. 

Because his opponent was choosing small bets throughout the hand, he only needed to win about 1/5 of the time for his call to be profitable.

Now let’s say the pot is $100, and the river bet to call is 100. This means the odds are 50/50 and you need to win at least half the calls in this scenario to be profitable. 

What Betting Range Does Your Opponent Have?

When deciding to make a hero call, you need to think about the range of hands your opponent may have.

For example, a button raise pre-flop with no one else in the hand could mean a much wider range of hands. If there are several callers and the big blind raises, it could be a sign of strength since he’s out of position.

Additionally, you need to consider the betting patterns of the current hand, as well as what that player has done previously.

You should be aware of the betting ranges of your opponent as you play through the hand.  Click To Tweet

When Hand Strength is More Important Than Blockers

 If your hand doesn’t beat your opponent’s value range, the strength of your hand isn’t important.

 The effects of your hand’s card removal are what count. The best bluff-catching hands block your opponent’s value betting range.

 If you want to build a calling range in these spots, you need to consider your opponent’s set range.

Backup Equity is Needed on the Flop and Turn

An emergency exit hatch is important when you play poker. If you run into your opponent’s upper range, even if you have a perfect bluff-catch hand, it’s always worth it. It’s helpful for your hand to have some backup equity, so you can improve when you’re behind.

Always leave yourself outs.

This is important because it indicates that you still have a chance your hand can improve. Nothing is worse than hero calling your opponent who has A high and you made the call with K high.


The hero call is something you need to be able to do to keep your opponents honest. You don’t want them thinking they can just bluff any pot. 

However, you need to have had a good reason for doing so. Whether it’s hand ranges you have put them on, betting patterns, or even just pot odds. Don’t make a habit of making these calls though as you can go broke quickly making too many.