Aggressive players can be a lot of things. They could donate
tons of money or they can dominate your tables. Of course, you
would much rather face those players who are going wild with no
sense of direction than those who actually have a clue as to what they
are doing. This article is going to focus on both ends of the
aggressive spectrum, from winning to losing players. Formulating
a winning strategy against an aggressive style of play isn’t as
cut and dry as it might seem. There are always unique types of
players even within one set style of play, and you need to be
able to adjust accordingly.
Aggressive poker wasn’t only the most successful way to
play. In fact, it’s one of the most notable creations of the
modern age of poker. Prior to the mid-2000s when the trend
started to gain traction, the most successful poker players were
relatively tight and knew how to capitalize on big hands while
losing the least with their weak hands. If you applied the same
very strong strategies of those days to today, you might be able
to turn a profit, but you won’t be making nearly as much as
those who are more aggressive.
The reason that aggressive play works is because it puts
other players on the defensive. This can mean that others are
intimidated and don’t know how to react to aggression or it can
simply mean that they are confused by the play itself.
Non-showdown pots are the time where aggressive play is really
focal. Players make the most money from being able to pick up
small pot after small pot without much opposition. If you can
effectively fight off these repeated attempts to win the “easy
money,” you’ll already be one step ahead of the game. You
shouldn’t be playing for the sake of simply catching an
aggressive player in the act though, as this is only a recipe
Beating Losing Players
You would have a tough time finding any poker player who
doesn’t like sitting in a game with action junkies who play
every hand. Whether you have a losing player who also loves
action or a winning player who likes money, no one wants to see
a reckless player leave their game. In fact, the players who get
upset by reckless plays are usually some of the biggest passive
losers around. They think that wild play is somehow ruining
their chances of success, when in reality they should only be
multiplying their likelihood of walking away a big winner. The
point is that if you are scared or do not like crazy aggressive
players, poker isn’t the game for you.
The pre-flop play for beating losing aggressive players is
actually quite simple. You should be looking to get in as many
pots as possible with the player(s) in question. Some poker
strategy will say that you shouldn’t ever target one particular
opponent, but this advice isn’t applicable here. When someone
says that you shouldn’t “go after” one player at the table, they
usually mean in the sense of revenge or payback. When you are
just looking to capitalize on someone’s bad play, however, it
makes perfect sense to chase after the easiest money available.
Normally folding a hand like A7 suited would make sense
against a raise pre-flop, but this is the type of hand that
could pay off big time against a maniacal player. The important
thing is that you are entering pots at the lowest price
possible. If you are regularly calling off huge bets in the hope
of flopping hard, you will still be losing money.
The post-flop strategy against these players is almost as
straightforward. You should very rarely be making bluffs or any
other type of move that requires your opponent folding a good
portion of the time since they tend to be calling stations.
Instead, value bet hard when you connect and give up without a
fight when you miss. Value betting and folding are the two most
primary skills that you could put into play against these
players. Anything else, for the most part, is just unnecessary.
Beating Winning Players
Learning how to profit against winning aggressive players is
many times more difficult than it is against losing players, and
for some very obvious reasons. First, you are going to have to
think when you are playing these people as they are often times
going to be the toughest opponents in your game. You won’t be
able to apply a very simplistic strategy as this will be ripped
apart in no time at all. You need to have confidence that you
know what you are doing and you need to be willing to take some
risks. If all of this isn’t in play, you are going to struggle
against any strong opponents who tend to play aggressively.
Pre-flop strategy against winning aggressive players calls
for you to mix it up from time to time. If you are playing ABC
poker, there isn’t much that a thinking player won’t be able to
pick off. If you are tossing in some 3-bet bluffs and steals,
however, you are going to balance your ranges much more
effectively. As backward as it might seem, you need to be OK
with losing some in order to win more.
Hand selection is going
to be up to you. You can tighten up to take advantage of their
widened ranges, or you too can be more loose and outplay your
opponent post-flop. How you play pre-flop should largely depend
on how confident you are in your post-flop play.
Post-flop strategy is the trickiest element in this entire
equation. Not only will you have a tough time putting the other
players on a hand, but you’ll also need to work towards being
as deceptive as possible. You don’t want to be implementing a
strategy where your hand is always somewhat obvious. This will
disable you from being able to value bet or bluff, rendering
your strategy all but useless.
There’s no easy way to explain
exactly how this strategy would look. While beating bad
aggressive players is a walk in the park, beating good
aggressive players is the polar opposite. The best advice
against these opponents is to practice, experiment, and be
prepared to fail. You’ll find that you are more prone to
variance against these winning aggressive players, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be beaten over the long run. They are
just like you and are in the game to make money, but someone has
to be a loser. If you are more creative and are willing to take
some risks, you are more than capable of coming out on top.
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