Aggression in poker

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Mark | Poker Articles, Poker Strategy

Submitted by Matthew Tonge this article about aggression in poker belongs to the Poker Strategy Series.

This article series contains 5 key steps  to go from break-even to a winning player in poker. This fourth step deals with aggression in poker.

Overview of the entire article series

  1. Which starting hands to play in poker
  2. Poker hand strength
  3. Bet sizing in poker
  4. Aggression in poker
  5. Position in poker

Aggression in poker

Summary: Be the aggressor – you have more chance to win the pot if you don‘t have a good hand, and you can build a nice big pot if you do have a good hand. And don’t give your opponents cheap cards to beat you.

Be more aggressive! So, you’ve learned to fold your weaker hands. But what about hands you do want to play? Beginners tend to ‘limp in’ (call the big blind) too often pre-flop, and just call other players’ bets on later streets (on the flop, turn and river). You should try to bet and raise more often. This gives you a better chance to win the hand right away, as you will look like you have a strong hand, whether you really do or not! Also, if you have pocket aces, you don’t want to limp in and risk having 5 or 6 other players in the pot, as there is a higher chance that one of them will beat you. With every extra opponent you have, the chances of your Aces winning decrease. In fact, if your Aces are up against 4 other hands, you are more likely to lose than to win. You should raise, ’thinning the field ie. Forcing other players to fold and hoping to get only one or two callers,’ meaning a higher chance that your aces will remain best. If you have Ace-Queen, and raised before the flop, your opponents already believe you have a strong hand. Therefore, even if you completely miss the flop, you can bet again and still win! If you flop 2 pair, you want to build up a nice big pot as you are likely to have the best hand. You aren’t going to achieve this by checking and calling. Also, you don’t want to give your opponents the chance to see cheap, or even free, cards to beat you.

An example of aggression in poker

Take this hand for example. You are in early position and are dealt Ace-King off suit. You raise, and the button and the big blind call. The flop comes King, Nine, Eight, with 2 hearts. The fist player to act checks. Now, you have a strong hand – top pair, top kicker, and you might not want to scare your opponents away and not make any more money from the hand. But there are 2 hearts on the flop, and a possible straight draw if your opponents have a hand such as Ten-Jack. So you need to bet. Do not make it cheap for them to beat you. And if they fold, remember it is better to win a small pot than lose a large one!

Matthew Tonge

For free poker tutorial videos, please visit my YouTube page at you

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