Originally Posted by subdylzep
I have noticed, as im sure many have, that poker has turned super agressive in the last 10 or so years. It has been said that to be a successful poker player, you must be playing aggressive, and put your opponents to the test of risking all their chips. This has become the normal strategy, especially for beginners learning the game. I have inherintly always played pretty agressive since the start of my poker play many moon ago, but in my older age i am leaning towards playing poker a little more soft, strategic and controlled. I have learned that playing a big pocket pair doesnt always have to be for all my chips, and most certainly doens't have to mean playing super aggressive with it. Even if i am ahead in many hands i will bet flop and turn, and then check the river to see if someone plays against me, putting me in a really bad situation to try and call the river just on my read against my opponent, but that is my strength, reading players, so it works for me. But I am wondering how many other people are playing hands SOFT now instead of playing them super aggressive especially late in touranment play. Something like QQ late in a tournament, i have learned is better to play soft sometimes. Like from middle position just limping the pot preflop and then just calling when against an solid opponent to see what the flop produces. I have even done this w AA when playing cash games because it is so unpredictable w aggressive players hand ranges. I am wondering if this is putting me in unnecessarily bad positions all the time. Dont get me wrong, most the time i get a high pocket pair, (JJ, QQ, 1010, or something like AKo) I am going to play it rather aggressive and try to take the blinds or gain a lot of value from it, But if i am playing late in a tournament, w an average stack on a tighter table, near the bubble, I may play my 1010 or QQ from early or mid position SOFT, not intending to want to risk a lot of chips , but rather let the flop produce how i am going to approach the hand. Should this be thought of as a bad way of playing poker? Should i just always play it aggressive and if it turns out bad say, oh well, I played it the correct way? Or am i doing what i am supposed to by seeing how the hand evolves during the flop,turn and river? I think by playing it SOFT, i am also putting my opponents in a position where it is hard to read what i am limping pots with, It could be 67 suited, or it could be KK, which may allow my hand range to open up and see more flops that can produce big implied odds late in the tournament. Not to mention, when i play a hand soft it gives me the opportunity to trap players when i hit the hand super hard, giving me a great chance to double up or greatly increase my stack size. The downside of course being that if i play it soft too early in position preflop, i allow for "junk" hands to see the flop and may end up overplaying an overpair to the board against a blind flopping a weird 2 pair, losing way more than i ever intended on a hand i could have just raised with and took the blinds preflop, no problem. I guess there are so many variables that i will often play it differently depending on how the table is, who i am playing against, exactly what position i am in, my stack size, how many BBs i have left in respect to the blind level, and how deep in the tournament I am. I think for me at least, Playing big hands SOFT, not slowplaying!, but playing them soft, has opened up more options to my play and allowed for me to assess my situation more thouroughly as the hand progresses. I would love to hear what others think of playing big hands SOFT in tournaments.
Glad to meet you and I enjoyed reading your post. I mostly play MTT tournaments one at a time on line only, one table 9 max SNG as well. Playing big hands soft and playing post flop until the river is one strategy that I find very valuable that fits my personality very well. Having the table dynamics that fits this strategy either has to be already in place from the natural play of the table or adjusted to fit my style. For example, if I have aggressive people to my left that will always raise my bets no matter if I limp or three bb raise, calling stations behind them and will enter the pot regardless of the action, then I can play big hands soft or any hand I want with that type of action.
However, I want to give the illusion of action, this lets me change my image without them understanding that I have changed, for example, my opponents will react to my bets rather than understand the table dynamic change.
The better aggressive, loose aggressive, tight aggressive players will see if I am only willing to limp in and play my big hands soft, for example, the better players will adjust to this strategy and may only limp in behind to catch their monsters or try and out play me. If this happens then this is only a break even strategy at best.
The bad aggressive, loose aggressive, tight aggressive players will see the same thing of me limping and will not pay any attention to how, what, why I would be playing my big hands soft, this puts this in a potential break even spot as well. For example, these players will shove, reraise, play like a maniac, and by no skill of their own will make the proper plays without knowing they are playing properly in a random situation. Many of these players will overplay suited drawing hands, Ax suited and unsuited as a couple of examples, this puts big pairs at risk against weaker opponents. I do not want to give up my skillful advantage against less skilled opponents so, I have to be careful and have proper reads against this type of opponent.
To balance against the good and bad players, I am willing to three and four bet light or when I have big hands early in a MTT, when the blinds are small, or the bets are small, early in hands. This type of leaning allows me to read who is reacting, bluffing, good and bad players; this also allows me to have more options to win a hand, hands without showdown, show big hands down. Then applying the soft, slow playing of hands, to offset aggressive play with all the options from slow playing strategy allows my game, style, image to seem more random, to have flow, and balance.
I have to be willing to play tight, aggressive, loose aggressive, or what ever it will take, while playing a small number of hands, then switch table dynamics and play more hands in bursts regardless of my cards, switch table dynamics on certain streets when the dynamics needs a sequence switch rather than a reactive bet because of specific information on the table or a certain player as a few examples.
In conclusion, I can apply any style but at some point I need to some empirical information about the table or players otherwise, what I am doing is only an assumption at best. The information about switching dynamics will have no impact on my game, my opponents game, in the moment, so,I need to know as much as possible about my opponents while not giving away more information than I am receiving from any one or situations over the long run. Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Lee Jones, Barry Tanenbaum, Jared Tendler, Haseeb Qureshi; these books have helped with the mental game, as well as all of the different strategies, styles, with my own personality meshed in with all of the information that I willing to apply. Staying with one or changing then defaulting to one style can be optimal but a player still must put themselves or their opponents in unnatural, pressure, uncomfortable situations based on reads, their cards, my cards, what they hold, what they do not hold, their strengths, weaknesses as some examples for the chance to be successful.