Poker Cash Game Pro Guide III. - Concept of Aggression
Be a Poker Cash Game Pro III. - Concept of Aggression
Poker is a very difficult game to master and there are many play styles that lead to victory. However, there is one that always fails and that so many bad players practice. It is being too passive and waiting for what others do and then simply do the passive line of checking or calling. Even though it might seem as a low-risk strategy, it just never works in the long run. If I see a passive player, I always mark them as a fish. There are no exceptions to this rule. Someone who never or almost never bets or raises will never beat this game.
Being aggressive in poker doesn't mean that we punch other players in their faces, but that our play style leans towards betting, raising and folding (yes, folding is an aggressive action, I will explain later) instead of passive checking and calling. This doesn't mean that we should never check or call, but that doing just that is not good and we would be letting players dictate the tempo of the game and put as much money into the pot as they like.
To practice controlled aggression and knowing when to be aggressive and when to be passive is really all it takes to beat other players in poker.
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It's Hard to Hit a Hand in Poker
In Texas Hold'em, it is very hard to have at least some sort of a hand. If we have two unpaired cards in our hand and a flop comes, we only have about 1/3 of a chance to hit at least one pair or better. Even that one pair might not be the highest pair. Sometimes we hit some sort of a draw, but it is quite rare to seriously hit the flop very hard.
This means that most of the time, no one actually has anything or they are very weak. In these situations, the player betting the first usually takes down the pot uncontested. It might not be the rule against proficient players, who know that you might just be betting to take down the pot. Even good players who know exactly what you are doing will just let you take the money, because there just isn't a lot they can do about it without taking some big risks. This leads us to the first advantage of being aggressive. Aggressive play can win uncontested pots.
What If Everyone Was Passive
Let's assume that every player plays passively and nobody ever bets or raises. Every game would go into showdown and every game would be decided by who hit the best hand. In the long run, everyone would win the same amount and everyone would lose because of the rake they pay. If everyone was passive, the game would just be a coin toss between players.
Now if one player was passive and could only check or call, and the other could incorporate aggressive actions of betting and raising. If the passive player hits hard, there is really nothing he can do about it and can only hope that the other player keeps betting to get some money into the pot. The aggressive player can really decide how much money he wants from his hand. He can just check down if he has nothing or bet on all the streets if he hits hard, or anything in between. He has a clear advantage and will win over the passive player. The number of pots won by either will be the same (notice that neither can fold), but the aggressive player will win much juicier pots when he hits, and will only lose big pots if both of them hit hard.
This leads us to the second reason of aggressiveness - an aggressive player dictates the tempo of the game and how much money will go into the pot.
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Why We Need A Strong Hand to Call
If we make a call, we usually have some sort of a hand that might either improve on later streets or we can showdown our made hand. Either way, we have something worth calling. As I already said, it's pretty damn hard to hit anything in Texas Hold'em and we would love to win some pots even without any sort of a hand. In short, a calling player always has something, whereas an aggressive player can bet or raise even without a hand.
That's why aggression is so important. An aggressive player can take down a pot even without a hand.
Being aggressive allows us to win pots without having any made hand or draw, or we can win in the showdown when we actually hit something.
Again, this doesn't mean that we will never take passive lines, but that to do so, we are sort of exposed and we give away a lot of information about the strength of our hand, which is not weak enough to fold, but not strong enough to raise. This topic is certainly not complete as we will cover that later when discussing slowplaying, but it is safe to say that you will do much better when betting and raising with a strong hand instead of waiting for the actions of our opponents.
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Why Is Folding an Aggressive Action
This is sort of counterintuitive, but folding is indeed considered an aggressive action. By folding, we are replying to someone else's aggression and not waiting for the outcome is aggressive, therefore folding is aggressive, while calling is passive. Yes, we are giving up, but that's not a bad thing in many cases.
When two aggressive players clash, one of them usually folds at some point of the hand, unless both of them have some goodies.
Folding is another tool so many bad players should incorporate into their play style. It's a lot cheaper to just muck the hand and wait for another opportunity to hit a hand or to be aggressive themselves. Calling and making the opponent push us out of the hand later, or making us pay when they have it, is a very expensive hobby, which we would love to avoid at all costs.
Being aggressive in poker leads so success. We should never take it out of proportions and just blindly bet or raise everytime we are allowed to. We should know why aggressive lines work a lot better than passive lines most of the times and that folding is perfectly fine. Betting or raising can lead to much better results and we will become a much more of a pain to other players, who will just let us get away with stealing a lot of pots.
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