Feb 3 2010

Dealing with Aggressive Players

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 1

Aggressive poker players are can be annoying. Aggressive poker players with too many chips ARE annoying AND dangerous. So how do you deal with them? By taking advantage of vulnerability many of them share: they lack balls. That’s right, you read this correctly. Many aggressive players lack balls because many of them love to push people around, but when someone pushes back, they pull their tails between their legs and run like little girls! Their poker strategy relies on bullying and when it’s not working, they get nervous.

Here’s a poker strategy that can do wonders against aggressive players and this works well in Sit N Go settings or in cash game settings. Aggressive players love to do two things pre-flop:

  • See cheap flops when they’re in early positions.
  • Steal pots from late positions. Particularly when blinds get more expensive, or when they sense weakness (i.e. opponents limped in before them).

Your first task is to identify who’s an aggressive player at your table, and that’s fairly easy to pick up. Just look for the following:

  • The number of hands they play. Aggressive players play more hands while tight players tend to fold a lot.
  • Frequent raising post flop.

Once you know who’s aggressive at the table, it’s time to exploit them. Basically, you want to look for scenarios where aggressive players would normally attempt a bluff. What you’ll want to do is check raise them. You check to give the illusion of weakness, they predictably raise, and you reraise to get them to fold. This works best when the aggressive player is on the button or in the blinds. From those spots, they will take more risks to see a flop. If they’re on the button, they do this because they’ll have position advantage on subsequent rounds. If they are in the blinds, they’ll do this because they already have money invested in the pot.

Ideally, you want to do a check raise move when you’re just facing the aggressive player, or very few players. It’s generally not a good play with too many players in the pot because this poker strategy has greater chances to backfire.

What’s bound to happen is the following: If the aggressive player was in the blinds, they’ll act first on the next betting round, and they’ll normally open with a large raise to get you to fold. This is where a re-raise usually closes the deal when it didn’t work pre-flop. Think about it for a moment. You have the aggressive player whose poker strategy involves stealing pots, and playing position even with a bad hand. In terms of mathematical probability, more often than not they will get a mediocre starting hand from the three positions I mentioned earlier. More often than not, it means that putting them under pressure will therefore win you the pot. Most aggressive players back off when pushed too hard. It means that you can get away with this kind of play with any two cards because you’re not betting on your strength, your betting on the mathematical probability of them having a weak hand.

There are of course exceptions and risks associated with this strategy. First, you will be more effective when you have a tight player image. Second, that image can quickly be shattered if you over use the strategy, or get caught bluffing while employing it. Third, while this poker strategy relies on probability and position, there’s the real possibility that you may face someone with a really strong hand, and they won’t back off. Finally, there’s always the possibility of overly aggressive players that will push you all in even if they have a weak hand, and that’s a difficult position to be in.  Overusing this poker strategy is risky, but when applied in the right settings, it can get you massive pots.

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