Importance of Aggression in Poker

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Aggression, as opposed to passiveness, is a key trait that players need to posses in order to become successful poker players. Being aggressive means that:

• You raise when you are first to enter a pot instead of open-limping.
• You re-raise or 3-bet with combo draws or draws to the nuts. This is instead of just checking behind or calling someone else's bet.
• You steal the blinds when the opportunity presents itself.
• When you raise preflop, you continue that aggression postflop by continuation betting.
• Opponents are charged to draw to better hands.
• You earn value for your hand by betting.

Now, there will always be exceptions to the rule, namely if you want to try to trap an overly aggressive opponent or there is more value to be gained by just checking or calling. But as a general rule of thumb, aggression will pay much more and more often then being passive will.

To further put this into perspective, I have created a list of the top ten reasons why you should be aggressive in poker.

Top 10 Reasons to Being Aggressive in Poker

1. Win the pot outright. When you make a raise with a good hand preflop, you are giving yourself more ways than one to win the pot. You can be called, see a flop and try to take it down then or you will just win the blinds preflop. Realize that although winning the blinds doesn't equal winning a lot of money, it's better than losing money - and besides, those blinds add up quick.

2. Create a large pot. When you have a good hand, you want to get paid for it. You can't build a pot by calling or checking. A pot can only get bigger by betting and raising.

3. Charge your opponents for their draws. By checking or calling, you give your opponents a cheaper opportunity to outdraw you. If instead you bet or raise, you will be earning value for your hands while at the same time charging your opponents improper odds to chase their draws.

4. Put your opponents on tilt. If you are aggressive and putting your opponents in a lot of tricky spots, they can start to become agitated and may go on tilt. When your opponents tilt, they will be playing less than their "A" game. You can use this opportunity to make money from their mistakes. Once they start to make mistakes, it will all snowball from there.

5. Pick on the passive players. Passive players who like to limp preflop are perfect targets to pick on. You will find that many of these players limp with such weak hands that they fold to almost every raise. And just like the blinds, it's not a lot of money, but it will add up quick. Additionally, when they do call you know they have a good hand and they will still miss the flop a good portion of the time enabling you to continue that aggression and pick up the pot with a c-bet on the flop.  

6. Buy table position. When you raise or 3-bet preflop, you can often buy position at the table. Aside from aggression, nothing will make you more money in poker than being in position on all betting rounds.

7. Intimidate your opponents. Your aggression may cause some players to be uneasy when facing you in a hand. This could lead to quick folds when they don't have a hand and an easy fold for you when they decide to stick around since it will be obvious they have a strong hand.

8. Give yourself a loose table image. Being aggressive will give you an image of a table bully. After a while, someone is bound to get tired of it and decide to stick up to you with a potentially weak holding. The only problem is that when they do, you have a monster hand. Ultimately, being an aggressive player will give you constant action because players will assume that you cannot have a hand as often as you make it seem you do. 

9. Gain initiative in the hand. Being aggressive preflop enables you to have the initiative in the hand on the flop. This means you can continue being aggressive whether you have a hand or not which will often times result in you taking down the pot with a c-bet.

10. Collect dead money. Being aggressive gives you the opportunity to steal open limper's money or steal the blinds. It's not a glamorous way of making money, but it will add up quickly. It will also give you action in the future due to your image. 

Poker Aggression Disclaimer

It should be pointed out that there is a significant difference between being aggressive and being reckless or a table maniac. The key to being a winning aggressive player is to selectively be aggressive - pick good spots to be aggressive and not just bet or raise for the sake of doing it. Betting or raising just because you feel like it will cause you to lose money much faster than if you were just to play a wussy/passive style of poker.

Overall, you will find that by carefully picking your spots to be aggressive in, you will make money either from the passive players who want to give you their money in small 1 big blind increments or from the players who are so sick and tired of your aggression that they stand up to you in a large pot with a marginal hand - a hand that you are more than likely ahead of.