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Aggression in Poker


In order to be a successful No-Limit Texas Holdem player, you have to be aggressive. This is a truth that even Tina knows well.

Aggression is shown at the poker table by making bets, opening the hand or raising. It is a show of strength that has just as much to do with player psychology, as it does with the cards that a player is holding. Aggressive players do not sit back and let things happen to them in a poker game. Instead they make things happen.

Most players do not bet and raise nearly enough. Of course, with more and more poker on television, and many books such as Doyle Brunson's Super System, which teach how to play power poker, it is not a secret that being aggressive is the way to go.

Most successful poker pros use aggressive tactics successfully such as Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey and many others, and aggression at the poker table is definitely on the up-swing. Online it is ever more prevalent than live.

Although being aggressive is good, you have to learn how to manage it by picking and choosing times to make aggressive moves. Aggression for the sake of it does not work, it needs to be used intelligently.

And this is the art of it. This knowledge separates good players from great players. The concept of selective aggression is referred to as controlled, or managed aggression.

This sounds like a difficult concept unless you think of your actions at the poker table as a form of communication. When you bet, you are saying something. How much you bet can be likened to how strong you are saying it.

For example, an all-in is a huge, in-your-face scream that says, "I have the best hand. Back down everyone. This pot is mine."

So, just like anywhere else in life, you have to watch what you "say" at the poker table. When acting aggressively, here are examples of what your actions could be saying to those playing at the table with you:

  • Check:  "Go on, buddy. Just bet into me. I got you beat, just waiting for your bluff."
  • Bet:  "I am here. I am playing in this hand, and I am strong. If you want to play, you've gotta pay."
  • Raise:  "You're hand might be big, but mine is bigger. And if it's not, I'm still gonna make you think it is."
  • Check-raise:  "Hmmm. So, you think you're more aggressive than I am. I don't think so. I want this pot, so back off."

Good Game at the tables!



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