Playing Aggressive Poker

aggressive poker playerIf you’ve ever sat at the table with a competent, aggressive player, then you know how difficult it can be to handle a balanced aggressive attack. Learning to play aggressive poker is a key part of making the transition from winning player to shark.

Aggression should fit comfortably within your preferred overall style of play. If you are a relatively tight player, then you should learn to play more hands in position and play aggressively in response to strong LAG opponents so you don’t get run over. If you like to play a lot of hands then you should attempt to dictate the action yourself.

Learn to complement your style with aggression and you will make more money. These are our tips for playing more aggressive poker.

Top 5 Tips for Playing Aggressive Poker

1. Destroy the Opposition from Late Position

In late position, and especially on the button, you should be raising with regularity. People often talk about defending your blinds (usually in a tournament poker setting), but in a poker cash game with deep-stacked opponents, you should defend your button. If a player in the cut-off is regularly raising, that should be considered an assault on your button and should be met with aggression.

Regardless of your tendencies towards LAG or TAG play, you should be raising at least 25% of your hands from the button. This figure may shift if your table is very loose or very tight. 6-max players should raise more frequently than full-ring players as well.

Raise frequently, isolate limpers with regularity, re-raise opponents who consistently raise when you are on the button. Learning to identify different types of players is key here.

2. Balance your Range in Early Position

In order to avoid playing too predictably, you should occasionally raise a suited connector in early position. This will allow you to show up with an unexpected hand often enough that you’re opponents can’t consistently put you on big pairs and big slick. Obviously this is predicated on the idea that at least a couple of the people at your table are paying attention, so it isn’t really applicable to games below 5c 10c no-limit holdem. In the super-micro-limit games you can get away with playing the top 2% of your range.

When I do have a suited connector in early position, I tend to play my draws very aggressively. This allows me to represent an over-pair to the board and surprise my opponents if I hit my draw. As with everything in poker theory, adapt this suggestion to the situation and the opponent(s) in front of you.

3. Learn to Play Draws Aggressively

Learn to play draws aggressively. You can occasionally play a draw slowly to protect your made hands on the occasions you decide to slow play them (this refers once again to balancing your range for deception). But you should certainly play your draws very aggressively a good portion of the time as well, both for deception and value.

Your opponents aren’t likely to hit the flop hard enough to put up significant resistance when you play your draw fast, and when they do hit the flop hard you will be drawing with exactly the type of hand to beat them. Consider making this play when your opponent leads at the flop. A re-raise on the flop shows additional strength and forces your opponent to make a difficult decision. It also limits your opponent’s options. It is very difficult to float vs. a re-raise.

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4. Target Weakness

Look for calling stations, and play them aggressively for value.

Look for one-and-done tight aggressive players, and force them to tough decisions.

Look for maniacs, and trap them.

Look for and target weakness at every opportunity. The operative word here is look. Whether you are in the pot or not, you should constantly be looking for a hiccup in the game of the player across from you. Once you notice that a player has a particular tendency, ask yourself “what is the best way to exploit this player.” If you consistently think in these terms at the poker table you will have little trouble making money.

If you cannot spot anyone’s weaknesses after a few orbits you may be playing at a table full of regulars, consider a table change.

5. Value Bet Aggressively

In lower stakes games there are a lot of players who are just bad. They call and chase way too much. The best way to exploit players like these to value bet. They will look you up with weak top pair hands on dry boards and even worse on a board with a missed draw. Plus, value betting bad players aggressively will help you get paid off when you hit a monster against a TAG opponent.

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