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The Last Bet

Poker Strategy: Understanding Aggression in your Game

The advent of online poker over the last decade or so has radically changed the way that players engage the game and each other. Nowadays, in order to be a winning player, you have to be an aggressive player, especially when playing No Limit Texas Hold'em and the like. With aggressive poker play, you can win bigger pots and control the board, giving you more chances to win. Knowing when and how to apply aggression lets you maximize the money you make from your good hands and shapes the way the others see the game as well.

Poker Strategy: Applying Aggression on Borderline Hands

Let's go with the latter first, as it's a bit easier to understand. One of the best applications of strategy aggression in poker is when you're holding a perfectly playable hand that could become less valuable as play progresses. In this example, let’s say that you’re holding AhKs when the flop hits with AcTd7d. You’ve got the top pair with the top kicker at this moment: two aces and a King, but if play continues to the turn, the odds that someone else can create a hand that can beat you increase dramatically. Hands of poker are rarely won with top pairs with top kickers, after all, and poker bonus money alone can't keep you in the game.

In a case like this, you'll want to push your opponent into folding so they're unable to see a card that could give them the upper hand. Being aggressive with strong betting in a case like this pushes your opponent's pot odds into the red and makes improving their hand more expensive than sensibility says works. Don't just call; bet hard and stand by your bet at this moment.

Poker Strategy: Buying Position with Aggressive Play

Forcing others to fold is just the beginning when it comes to aggressive poker play. By being aggressive, you can quite literally buy position and give yourself an advantage from the very beginning. Let's say you're two seats from the button in a middle-stakes cash game while holding a pair that can help you make a good straight or offer up good pairs when the game proceeds: QcJc. Everyone folded their way to you except for the player on your right, who limped in.

In a moment like this, doing something very aggressive such as raising the betting to four big blinds can actually kick the rest of the table out of the hand, essentially letting you buy the button for yourself. This gives you table control by letting you be the last to act for the rest of the hand. This strategy can be especially useful during single-table online poker tournaments, where you’re trying to outlast the rest.

Aggressive Poker: Conclusion

Betting and raising aggressively can give you an advantage over your opponents thanks to elimination alone, but it can also give you a chance to exploit your better hands by pumping up the pot. Make sure that your aggressive poker play doesn't extend too far, though. Keep a cool head and clear eyes during your poker game.

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