The term “call” in poker applies to one of the main options players have to choose from if they want to participate in a hand. When it’s a player’s turn to act, the main options are to:
- fold, i.e. give up on his and
- call, which means to call either the obligatory bet (i.e. big blind) or call a raise
- raise when you want to put more money in the pot.
Of these three, raising is the most aggressive option, while folding is the most passive one. Calling is more neutral and it doesn’t show any aggression at this point. Of course, there are different strategies, and sometimes players decide to only call with their premium holdings (AA or KK, for example).
If the pot hasn’t been raised before you, to call, you will need to put 1 big blind. That is the minimum amount to participate in the hand preflop.
If there has been a raise before you, to call, you will have to match the bet that has been made. The bet could be just 2 big blinds but could be more. Most competent players would usually bet 2 or 3 times the big blind preflop.
Sometimes there will be an all-in announced before you, so to call, you will have to match the allin of the player, which could be a substantial part of your stack.
After the flop (when the first three cards have been dealt), players will again have the option to call someone else’s raise. This time the raise would be a percentage of the pot. For example, if there are 10 big blinds in the pot, some players may choose to bet half of that. So, in order to call a half-pot bet, in this example, you will need to put 5 big blinds. A similar situation will happen on the turn and on the river.