Being The Aggressor

How is any battle won? Does a player or team achieve victory by standing around and taking punches or do they counter with new moves? The most successful online poker players are creative and relentless. Phil Ivey is one of the most well known players in the world, this is not because he is lucky, it is because he is a fierce competitor who is always one step ahead.

He forces the action and fills his opponents with fear. Weak poker players don’t often fill others with fear, quite the opposite, actually. You must be the one controlling the action and calling the shots, otherwise you are simply falling into the other player’s hands.

What is an aggressive play?

The most basic way to see if you are a passive or aggressive player is to see how you react to situations. When a player ahead of you makes a raise is your first instinct to re-raise and take away the pot or is it to simply call. If you said that your first instinct was to re-raise you are likely an aggressive player, by contrast if you said that you would call you might be playing a bit on the weak side. There is a fine line, however, between aggressive play and reckless play. The line is so fine in fact that many players step over it and don’t know it.

What separates aggressiveness from recklessness?

Aggressive poker players are nothing if they are uncontrollable. You should be smart and aggressive, one accomplishes little without the other. Some of the most brilliant poker players don’t have the guts to pull the trigger in crucial spots, even when they know they should. The reckless players make bets even when they know they shouldn’t.

An example of a hand as played by an aggressive player and a reckless player

Both the aggressive player and reckless player are sharing the same hand, you will see the contrast in how they play it.

The hand you are dealt is Qc Kc. You are playing .50/1 and are on the button.

One player raises ahead of you in MP to $4.

Both the aggressive and reckless player decide to flat call.

The flop is 10c As 7c.

The MP raiser bets $7 into the $9.50 pot.

The aggressive player raises to $18.

The reckless player raises to $18.

The MP player calls the raise. The pot is now $45.50.

The turn is a blank, the 4d.

The MP checks and the aggressive player either makes a moderate bet, $22 or so, or checks back.

The reckless players shoves the rest of his stack hoping he has some fold equity. He is instantly called by AT and loses a large pot.

The aggressive player was able to be aggressive but played smart too. The reckless player shoved everything in and prayed for a fold. Now the aggressive player might have lost the $22 turn bet if he was raised, but he didn’t lose his whole stack like the reckless player. If he checked it back he got to see the river for free.

Passive vs. aggressive vs. reckless

It is best to be aggressive, but it is better to be passive than to be reckless. Think of poker as driving a race car. In order to win the race a driver would need to be extremely aggressive, but he would likely end up crashing or falling back if he drove recklessly. If that same driver took a passive approach to the race he would end up getting, well, passed. The passive driver finishes the race but is well behind the leader, the aggressive driver finishes the race near the top, and the reckless driver is done before the race is completed.

Reckless poker players lose their money quickly. Passive players lose less money than reckless players or at a slower pace. Aggressive players take the money from the reckless and passive players. Now, which one do you want to be?

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