Can A Little Aggression Be A Good Thing?

If you are talking about poker play, either at home in your local hangout or online with some tougher competition, the answer is a resounding yes. Note, this is not about being obnoxious at the table; nothing like that at all.

Start with a good working definition so everyone here is on the same page. What is aggressive poker play? In poker land, accepted wisdom is that opens and raises are considered to be aggressive plays. On the other hand, calls and checks are considered to be passive plays. (Side note, not to make this complicated, but it is also true that a check-raise would be viewed by most as a very aggressive play).

You may hear some old-timers making statements like “…aggression has its own value..”. What are they talking about? Consider the wisdom of poker theorists such as David Sklansky and Doyle Brunson. They make the case aggression is an important tool. For example, aggressive plays can even make money with weak hands.

It works like this: opponents more often than not respond to aggressive play by playing more loosely. The problem with playing loosely is that it often shows up as more opportunities to make simple mistakes.

It is important to note that aggressive play should not ever be confused with loose play. Loose play, which can also be referred to as playing recklessly or wild gambling is a sure way to empty your wallet in a hurry, especially against more seasoned players. Another way this shows up is that loose players may tend to play more passively, effectively giving over control of their game.

Here is the thing, aggression is absolutely called for in some circumstances. For example, if you find yourself holding a very strong hand from the very beginning, that is the time to bring out the aggressive play tool. Here is an illustration: say you are dealt a hand more likely to win with a straight or a flush. This is the type of hand that you play more aggressively.

Not only that, by playing this way, your aggression actually turns out to be deceptive to your opponent. Here’s why: your low and unpaired ranks of your starting hand require a big improvement to end up as a winning hand.

As you can see, there is room for aggression in your poker play. Take this new tool and use it wisely

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