Controlled Aggression In Poker

Controlled Aggression in Poker

Controlled aggression, and not just flat out aggression, is key to winning no-limit hold’em cash game poker. Once you start playing enough 6-max poker you will inevitably find players who adopt a loose-aggressive style, and it’s not just found in the shorthanded ring games, online poker in general is a more aggressive game.

The reason that aggression has gained in popularity at the poker table is that when it’s executed correctly it can be very profitable. The aim when you are playing poker is to be deceptive so your opponents have no clue what two cards you are holding, get paid off when you have a big hand, and to lose the least amount possible when you think you are beat.

Bad players tend to be weak because they are very transparent in how they play. They only play premium hands, they will four bet you to let you know they have pocket aces, will never bluff you off a weak hand, etc. This playing style can work against weak opponents, you will get paid off with your big hands, but against better players you need to up the aggression to add deception to your play.

New players understand that they need to play aggressive poker if they want to dominate the games they play in, but in reality they are just spewing chips at the table because they lack the experience and controlled aggression. You need to be able to pick your spots at the right time, not just mindlessly raise or make a bet with a specific purpose. If you don’t adopt controlled aggression, then you are raising just for the sake of raising, which is a bad idea. You always want to have a plan in poker.

Raise To Gain Initiative In The Hand

If your hand is not good enough to raise from your position then fold! It would be a mistake to limp in when you are playing shorthanded poker. In aggressive games, if you limp in you can expect someone who is still yet to act will raise, and they will gain initiative in the hand.

You always want to have the best position in the hand, and raising gives you the best opportunity to get that. If it was folded to you in late position, when you raise you only have to worry about a few players re-raising you in the blinds, which they will really only do with a premium hand.

When you are the pre-flop raiser, you let every player at the table know you have a strong hand, so even if you get called by 1-2 players which is often the case in 6-max, even when you miss the flop you can win the hand with a continuation bet if you feel it missed your opponent’s range. You also gain the most information possible when you make a raise, because if you get re-raised, the other player is saying you may have a good hand, but mine is better. For example, let’s say you are UTG with ATs and open with a raise, but a tight player in MP decides to 3bet. You have a pretty good hand, especially for a big multi-way pot, but considering the player has played straight forward against you and is fairly tight, you have to consider you are beat, and can fold.

Raise To Frustrate Your Opponents And Put Them On Tilt

In passive games a lot of time weak players are allowed to limp in a lot and see a lot of flops without risking many chips. They prefer to play this way because they are risk adverse, but if you come to the table with a high degree of controlled aggression, you will find that you can get these passive players out of their comfort zone and get them on tilt, which is a license to print money. The weak players who are constantly limping in will end up playing back at you due to frustration, start playing too many hands and will overplay a mediocre hand. This is when you punish them for it.