Pitfalls of playing Solid/Agressive Poker


William Martin

Aug 5, 2007
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I'm hoping I might me able to get some ideas off the good folk on this forum...

I'm a pretty text-book player. I play a very solid, highly agressive game, playing good solid hands in position - the type you, in most games, wouldn't even bother with A-J, 10-10 in early position but when your in a pot with me, you know about it.

It has served me well in the relativly short time that I've been playing poker, but I am begginng to find a pitfall, that being - everyone knowing how I play. The more I play with certain players, the more they are able to put me on hands more accuratly, and it's getting quite annoying.

Admitedly, there are things I can take advantage of, manging to bluff a £150 pot last night with 4-5 on a board of A-A-K-2-Q is a good example.

But I must admit, when I play a regular home game with friends, there piss-taking of my "predictable" game is annoying me.

I don't want to and don't think I need to change my style of play. It works for me and it has been very succesful for me, both online and in live tourneys and casino games. I just need to find a way of mixing it up a little and making myself less predictable - or do I?

Any thoughts / comments?


Oct 10, 2006
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If you are being successful then you certainly don't need to change your game for change sake. You very definately don't need to change because people are calling you predictable. In fact if it's predictable that you beat them then this is probably a backhanded compliment.

A lot of people equate playing what they think is Gus Hansen style poker with M4d sk177s, particularly in home games where some fool usually plays like a nut and gets lucky, never gets a big enough sample to get bitten by variance and decides they are a poker god :), they are not, they're a fool.

But the important thing is it doesn't matter what they think if you want to take the game even remotely seriously (if you are playing solely for fun then perhaps it's more relevant). The only thing that matters is your own honest analysis of your game.

That said perhaps you could for legitimate poker reasons do with being a bit looser in your starting range and post-flop aggression. It's a good idea to start this loosening up in the button and cut-off and work from there, effectively just stealing more. Add in some resteals from the blinds and some continuation bets when the flop looks scary to your opponent and you'll start to change your game and see lot's of opportunities to play creative poker. Be careful though, changing a part of your game can have a big impact til you get comfortable with what you are doing again.

Thing is though, if you pull it off your friends may not really know about it, because now you have this great image you should exploit it for all it's worth. So when they fold to your bet on an A45 flop saying "you've got AK" resist the temtation to show them your JQo! :)

And welcome to CC



Sep 2, 2007
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Hi William,
I think you have to change your style of play. It`s not important how good it worked out for you in the past. If the other players got a read on you, it`s time for a change. You said you are a text-book player. Most of the players go to the same library. They know the same things you know. Playing strictly by the rules is not an advantage. If I only play premium hands in early position (AA. KK. QQ. AKs), what do I expect. The other players will give me no action, or even worse, when they play back, only with very strong hands. Did you hear about small ball? A very advanced stategy, used by many of the top pros. It`s a good way of mixing it up to make you less predictable. If you like to hear more about it - let me know.



Rock Star
Mar 19, 2007
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I've had the same problem for a while at my homegame. So after a while I just went stealing every pot like a madman (while showing every time I had aces, kings or something else big). I walked over the game the entire night, someone even folded his AJ to my c-bet on a J84 flop, showing me his hand and saying that I probably got kings or queens anyway. So you can very well use this image to your advantage. Just make sure you don't show bluffs and do show top pair/overpair etc. (my homegame is very relaxed, so there's no problem with showing cards or just one card, if your homegame gives you trouble with it, just look really confident every time :)).


Aug 7, 2007
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Hi William,
Did you hear about small ball? A very advanced stategy, used by many of the top pros. It`s a good way of mixing it up to make you less predictable. If you like to hear more about it - let me know.

Care to elaborate on small ball?


Dec 31, 2006
Total posts
Care to elaborate on small ball?

its what I play along with pros like Daniel negranue, sorry Daniel dont feel like looking up how to spell your last name. Its not that advanced of a strategy like the OP insists. I will find a meaning for you.

these videos pretty much explain everything, got them from some other forum by just googling small ball poker.




you are welcome
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May 18, 2005
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I just watched all three of those videos. Let me just say, I can't wait to test the theory at a tournement at the casino! I always seem to play too tight and end up getting blinded out in live tournaments.

Storm, I'm copying this post into the video section. It's a golden nugget. Thanks for posting it. :)


Dec 31, 2006
Total posts
I just watched all three of those videos. Let me just say, I can't wait to test the theory at a tournement at the casino! I always seem to play too tight and end up getting blinded out in live tournaments.

Storm, I'm copying this post into the video section. It's a golden nugget. Thanks for posting it. :)

np happy to do it.


Feb 5, 2005
Total posts
Thanks for putting those vids up, Storm.
After watching them, I tried small ballin' in a few SNGs with positive results.


Solvem probler
Project Moderator
Mar 8, 2007
Total posts
That's a great little segment storm. Seems I've been playing smallball on occasion without knowing what it was. That video pointed out one major mistake I've been making...trying to take down the pot AFTER being called or reraised on the flop (on a bluff). That's a huge leak that's been staring me in the face but I didn't realise until now.
Egon Towst

Egon Towst

Cardschat Elite
Jun 26, 2006
Total posts
The best solution I know to the predictability problem is the one Harrington recommends, which I think of as the wristwatch trick.

If you are playing in a deepstack tournament or a regular game, where you will sit at the same table with the same opponents for a long time and there is a danger they will get too good a read on you, randomise your play using the second hand on your watch.

Whenever it is your turn to act, glance down at your watch. If the second hand is between 48 and 60, make an unusual choice. In other words, fold where you would generally call, min-raise where you would usually bet the pot. Deliberately choose a play outside of your usual style.

If you follow this method, you will be making a weird play one time in five, and it will be near impossible for the opponents to know what is going on.


Rock Star
Mar 19, 2007
Total posts
I liked the vids storm, I liked how the concepts were explained. Shame Daniel didn't really explain when to use the calling with nothing play, I would have liked some more info on that. Also the guy they used was nowhere near a advanced player (seeing how he misinterpreted a lot of what Daniel said) and the staged opponent near the end in the vid decided to bluff off his whole stack, which was to donkish to be true.


Sep 1, 2007
Total posts
More from Daniel

Bettin’ Benny vs. Slow Playin’ Seto — Part I
By Daniel Negreanu

I want to backtrack a little to the very early days of my career.
Before I'd ever set foot in a casino or cardroom, I learned the game of poker,
as most people do, in house games.
It was during high school that I became fascinated with the game of poker.
Before that, snooker (pool) was my game of choice.
I played pool for hours and hours each day, spending most of my free time
at the local pool hall 'getting my education in life.' Up to that point,
I didn't know if a flush beat a straight, because I hadn't played a hand in my entire life.
Through pool, though, came all sorts of gambling. Of course, we always played pool for money,
which led to sports betting, then blackjack, and then a whole slew of other bad habits.
I was lucky enough to get all of that out of my system by the time I was 19.
Then, a couple of the pool players asked me if I wanted to join them at a friend's house for a poker game.
I didn't really know what poker was, but it was for money, so I was in!
At that point, none of these pool players were very good card players, and, of course, neither was I.
For the first month I played, I literally carried a hand-ranking chart with me.
For some reason, I couldn't remember if a flush beat a full house, or if it was the other way around.
Anyway, after a while, the poker game became a regular thing, and we played once or twice a week.
For the first little while, the faces were interchanging, but eventually it was the same old crew.
There were a couple of players in that game who left a lasting impression on me.
I can still remember the day that I met John Seto.
Seto was a quiet, mild-mannered kind of guy, and was very polite.
He was of Asian descent, was born in canada, and was well-educated.
At the time, I think he was getting some sort of a degree in college.
He wasn't a pool player, but was a friend of a pool player who was hosting that week's game.
Our house game was pretty typical, a lot of wild-card games and such.
There wasn't much of that boring hold'em or seven-card stud - we played action games!
With all those wild cards in the game, I thought it would be silly to fold early in a hand just in case I got one.
Yet, for some reason, that John Seto character was folding all the time!
Hmmm ... that must be boring, I thought.
So, as the night was coming to an end, Seto had played only about 20 hands or so,
yet, amazingly, he was the big winner. I thought, how is that possible?
That guy plays only when he has two wild cards or better, and he still wins?
This was my first poker epiphany. Finally, the simplest poker truth dawned on me.
Seto played only when he had the best hand. He'd throw away all the garbage cards for only the ante,
and play only when he had a big advantage. Hey, that's not fair - or so I thought.
If he was going to play so tight and win all the time, so would I.
Or would I? Better yet, could I? I tried, folding and folding until I couldn't stop yawning.
Ah, the heck with it, this is boring - I want to play! So, play I did.
As the night was drawing to a close, Seto was booking another nice and tidy $200 win
while I'd just gone broke again.
I'd win from time to time, but never enough to cover my losses. Yet, Seto?
I don't think he ever lost. There has to be something to this game, I thought, nobody is that lucky.
I really needed to figure out how Seto won every night,
so I started to pay closer attention to him when we played.
Whenever he bet on the end, he always had the best hand.
I don't think he ever bluffed, yet, amazingly, people always called him - including me!
But I always thought poker was about bluffing - another misconception.
Seto and the others were all older than I. I was about 16, while they were all in their 20s.
I'd go to school and spend most of the day in anticipation of the next poker game.
Eventually, I taught my friends at school how to play poker, and suddenly I was the poker guru.
I'd already been playing for a month, so I knew a little bit more than they did about poker.
I was making about $100 a day at school with my friends.
Even though they played very badly, I was still learning things about poker by playing with them.
Then, I'd take my $100 and play with Seto and the big boys at night.
Over and over again, I'd beat the kids at school and give all the money to Seto and the boys.
That went on for close to another month, and then things started clicking.
What Seto was doing finally made sense to me.
Like Seto, I was now able to understand how the others played - my second poker epiphany.
Oh, what a feeling! Finally! Not only was I beating the kids at school, I was beating the big boys, too!
I'd learned from Seto how important discipline and patience were.
Fancy plays and bluffing all look cool, but it was discipline and patience that would make me a winner.
I wasn't done there, though, the learning never stopped.
Now that I was winning, I wanted to play more and more.
So, I hosted the game at least twice a week in my basement. Everything was under control.
I had the discipline and patience to win at poker.
Then one day, someone invited a new guy to our little house game. He was another pool player I knew of.
Actually, he was a friend of my older brother - Bettin' Benny ... more on him later.
Observational skills are very valuable at the poker table.
By observing a winning player, I had learned some valuable lessons without his having to say a word.
I absorbed the information I got by watching him,
and it made me think more about the game, which is always a good thing.
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Forum Admin
Oct 13, 2006
Total posts
Those are good videos - though it is interesting to note that he says he would not recommend this style of play to beginners and intermediates - which most of us are.


Sep 1, 2007
Total posts
Part II Daniel Negreanu

Bettin’ Benny vs. Slow-Playin’ Seto
— Part II
By Daniel Negreanu

Last time, in Part I, I told you a little bit about Slow-Playin' Seto.
Slow-Playin' Seto played in the first house game I ever played in.
Wait, he didn't exactly "play." He sat there most of the night waiting for the nuts!
Yet, night after night, Seto chalked up winning sessions.
I learned how important discipline and patience are by watching Seto
rake in the bucks, and I knew I had to do the same thing.
Although it wasn't easy at first, I was finally able to deal with the boredom of folding.
It was from watching Seto that I actually became a winning player in the game.
And just when I'd figured out everything there was to know about poker,
in walked Bettin' Benny ... oh, boy.

Benny was very loud and intimidating. He was an Italian with lots of hair and a big voice.
He also had a goatee, which made him look even more intimidating.
His hands and neck were covered in lavish watches, rings, and necklaces.
He'd played poker before for higher stakes than we were playing, for sure.
We played with a $1 ante, $1-$5 anytime with anything up, and $10 on the end.
It was a game in which nobody could get hurt too badly; losing $200 was a pretty bad night.
That was soon to change.
Benny jumped right in and started betting and raising, appearing to throw caution to the wind.
None of us had ever seen anything like it before. We were used to a game with a more normal pace.
All of a sudden, the pots were twice the size as normal, and Benny appeared to be invincible.
He didn't often start with much of a hand, but by the end of the hand,
he'd hit some miracle card and taken down another monster pot.
He had all of us shaking our heads. Not only that, he convinced us all to make it $20 on the end
- and $20 was a big bet to us, but not to Benny.
Benny knew that, and he started betting the maximum all the time.
After all, it was tough for any of us to call $20 on the river, as that was a buy-in!
So, Benny exploited that, stealing pot after pot.
Sometimes he'd get lucky and have the best hand, but other times he'd just bluff and steal the pot.
I was dumbfounded. He won more money that night than anyone had ever won before
in our house game - almost $700.
Seto could never do that!
So, what really happened here?
Was this guy that much better than we were?
No, of course not. He forced us to play his game, and we fell right into his trap.
He'd caught a couple of cards here and there and that sort of gave him a powerful aura.
I never learned anything like it by watching Seto.
So, anyway, Benny too became a regular in our house game.
Benny was the guy creating all the action, while Seto sat back and set traps for Benny to fall into.
It was an interesting chess match to watch. Eventually, Seto got the best of those confrontations.
I mean, Seto always had a hand, and Benny was always dancing around in the pot with nothing!
Benny also caused confusion. He made the game chaotic for everyone else,
but apparently everything still made sense to him.
What a powerful tool, I thought. If I just keep betting and raising all the time,
no one will be able to figure me out - another poker epiphany.
nnHowever, Benny's strategy wasn't without holes.
He was simply fighting an uphill battle by spotting Seto two wild cards every hand.
The math would eventually come into play.
Also, Benny's act soon began to wear thin, and he was no longer feared by the others.
It didn't take long before Benny became a live one in the game
- regularly dumping $200 to $300 a session.
So, was it all a mirage or did Benny have some poker talent?
Talent he had, but unfortunately for him, he had no discipline.
So, what could I learn from Benny's talents? A lot.
In the beginning, Benny's table image was fierce; he was in complete control of the game.
I wanted that. But Benny was a losing player.
I couldn't possibly learn anything from a losing poker player, could I?
Oh, yes, I learned a lot.
So, here I was playing with Bettin' Benny and Slow-Playin' Seto.
By now, I no longer gave Seto any action, while I'd call Benny with as little as a pair.
I was no longer intimidated by either Seto or Benny.
I realized that even though Seto won more money than Benny,
he wasn't much of a threat to me. He'd simply be a plugger,
avoiding marginal situations and playing only with much the best of it.
In a game full of tough players, he'd be easily read as a rock and get no action.
Fortunately, the house game was good enough for him to show a profit.
And what about Benny? Well, he was doomed.
All the talent in the world wasn't going to help him when steam was coming out of his ears.
When Benny was winning and on a rush, he really played well, making moves,
and showing some discipline as well as creativity.
When he started from behind, though, he was a lost cause.
His face would turn beet red as he smoked his cigarettes frantically.
It's a shame, but loss of control is a common fault of many poker players.
Seto wasn't like that. He had control regardless of the cards he was dealt. I wanted that, too.
Seto's strengths were Benny's weaknesses, and vice versa.
The two of them could have learned a great deal from each other.
Seto could have learned not to miss so many bets and to mix up his play,
while Benny could have learned to avoid some real trouble hands
and turn things down just a notch or two.
I was open to learning, and my mind was always at work.
Seto became complacent; he was happy enough just beating up on the blinds.
He didn't have aspirations of being a poker superstar or anything like that.
Benny didn't want to control his temper or read a book that could assist him
in restricting his starting requirements.
So, they were at a stalemate. Their ignorance didn't allow them to learn anything new.
Consequently, their games never improved.
These two players were instrumental in helping me form my poker philosophy.
By combining their strengths and incorporating them into my game, it made me stronger.
Later in my career, I learned to be open-minded when encountering new playing styles.
Heck, if I learned something from Bettin' Benny, I could learn something from anybody!
Understand this: You will never master the game unless you realize that it can never be truly mastered.
There will always be a new challenge to face; the learning never stops.
That's the beauty of it. So, open your mind, and the next time you play with an unconventional player,
ask yourself this: What can I learn from this experience?
Just be careful what you learn.

~This is relative to what he teaches in the other videos in the series~
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William Martin

Aug 5, 2007
Total posts
Thank you so much for those videos.

I now have something to "change gear" with, as I am excellent at the TAG game, playing solid and patient, but if I want to mix it up - i can play smallball for a while.

I've just been practicing with it on a $20 SnG on Full Tilt and I murdered the game, killed it stone dead - went from 1500 to 4000 in about 10 minutes, then changed gears, played solid agressive for a while and easily won it.

I think this kind of gear change is what has been missing from my game.

Cheers mate!