"The Preflop Aggressor"

zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
So we see it all the time, this caught my attention most watching ChuckTs' analysis of icemonkey's session today. He talked a lot about "taking the initiative" in the hand and we see it all the time from various poker authorities about taking the lead in a hand, Harrington even uses that as one of the criteria to change what you should do in a heads-up ring game hand.

Now of course against average and below-average players they will play in a very predictable manner because they think that's how it's supposed to be. The preflop raise should/will raise. This leads to a lot of monsters checking when OOP to the preflop raiser and a lot of people cbetting practically any flop.

My question however, is why this matters against good opponents. Now the one time it would matter is say there's a preflop raise from EP. You can now expect that player to have a good hand. But when you watch shows such as HSP, you'll realize that at that skill level mixing it up is so imperative that even an UTG raise may not mean extreme strength.

So why is who raised preflop important? Why does it matter whether the CO raises and button calls or the button raises, everyone folds around to the CO and then he calls? If we assume a wide range of hands from both players in both scenarios, why does it matter who raised preflop? What value does "taking the initiative" or being "the preflop aggressor" have? If we erase all our artificial expectations and approach this from an objective and analytical stance, I don't see any reason that the person who raised would matter. Am I missing something? They still act in the same order, the same amount of money's in the pot preflop, etc. Everything is the same in the future. So as I mentioned, other than slight changes in hand ranges, what is the big deal about being the preflop aggressor? I'll exploit the actions people use with that assumption where I play now. I've started check-raising a ton with ATC (that I called preflop with) when an aggressive player with a high cbet % throws out a cbet after they raised preflop. I've started checking behind flops for pot control because I know that a lot of even sets would check in that position. But in a tough game where there are no artificial ideas of how someone SHOULD play or act, what's the difference?
 
OzExorcist

OzExorcist

Broomcorn's uncle
Joined
Aug 6, 2007
Total posts
8,583
Awards
1
I guess the point is that very few (if any?) of us play in tough games where there are no 'artificial' expectations about what a pre-flop raise means. We spend more time herding sheep than swimming with sharks, and I suspect its in a sheep-herding role that the concept is most applicable.

In fact, I suspect CC buyin games may be the only place most of us will face that situation, and even in that case most people will have a decent idea who's TAG, who's LAG, who mixes their game up and what a pre-flop raise from any given player may or may not mean.
 
zachvac

zachvac

Legend
Joined
Sep 14, 2007
Total posts
7,832
I guess the point is that very few (if any?) of us play in tough games where there are no 'artificial' expectations about what a pre-flop raise means. We spend more time herding sheep than swimming with sharks, and I suspect its in a sheep-herding role that the concept is most applicable.

In fact, I suspect CC buyin games may be the only place most of us will face that situation, and even in that case most people will have a decent idea who's TAG, who's LAG, who mixes their game up and what a pre-flop raise from any given player may or may not mean.

Well what I meant though is even Harrington talks about it in his book, which is meant for beating tough games (for example he advocates even limping aces 20% of the time I believe for deception value, something very few of us have EVER had to do, simply because most of our opponents aren't all that observant, and even if they are, we're not good enough to know when we're ahead postflop and when we're beat and play accordingly). If he's talking about using that concept, I have to believe it's applicable to more than just micro stakes games.
 
Stick66

Stick66

Legend
Joined
Nov 10, 2005
Total posts
6,374
I agree with your idea, Zach. "Taking the initiative" works quite a bit, but not always. As with all things in poker, "It depends." Yes, I agree that passivity can also get paid off in the right spots. That's why I think reads are so valuable.

In one of Sklansky's books (forgot which), he says in affect that your raise should have a purpose. Some common purposes are to get player(s) to fold, to build a bigger pot, to isolate one player, etc. He says that if you don't think you can achieve your purpose for raising, don't raise. If you raise PF, get a caller, you flop nothing, and you know he'll call your c-bet with bottom pair or a GS or something, don't raise. If you flop the nuts and you know your opponent will fold if you bet but might bet if you check to him, don't raise. Some folks would even recommend min-betting in these situations (but not me necessarily).

So the point is that continuing the aggression on the flop works in many situations, but folks shouldn't take it as a blanket rule.
 
odinscott

odinscott

Legend
Joined
Apr 4, 2008
Total posts
1,054
I mean it is true that after the flop, the guy in position is always better off, but the reason to c-bet is so that you do not lose control of the pot. What I mean by this is that, if you check, you have given all of the control to the other guy. You effectively now have no idea where he is. Then if you bet later, he can come back over the top, on a straight bluff and you really would have no clue what to do. If you c-bet, especially more than a min-raise, even if your flop is blank, you get a really good idea of where he stands with his hand. Of course anyone can play deceptively, calling to the river and then coming back over the top. I mean c-bets are what you said, and that is to be used against the average player that really isnt being tricky. You see Phil Ivey (Harrington at times as well with the squeeze play), do exactly these types of things. If they get their opponent to fold, then they get free chips. If they call and catch him doing it, all it does is make everyone at the table rethink how he is playing. Personally I always c-bet if the flop is blank(ish). I mean if there are 3 clubs out there and I have AQ hearts, then I probably wont throw anything out there. Even then sometimes I will take the chance, especially against a weak/passive player that I know will fold if they didnt catch a hand. The other reason that c-betting works, is when you want to trap. If they are used to you betting betting betting, then you check and they throw something out there, if you come back over the top, they really have a hard time figuring out where you are. It goes both ways...
 
odinscott

odinscott

Legend
Joined
Apr 4, 2008
Total posts
1,054
I agree with your idea, Zach. "Taking the initiative" works quite a bit, but not always. As with all things in poker, "It depends." Yes, I agree that passivity can also get paid off in the right spots. That's why I think reads are so valuable.

In one of Sklansky's books (forgot which), he says in affect that your raise should have a purpose. Some common purposes are to get player(s) to fold, to build a bigger pot, to isolate one player, etc. He says that if you don't think you can achieve your purpose for raising, don't raise. If you raise PF, get a caller, you flop nothing, and you know he'll call your c-bet with bottom pair or a GS or something, don't raise. If you flop the nuts and you know your opponent will fold if you bet but might bet if you check to him, don't raise. Some folks would even recommend min-betting in these situations (but not me necessarily).

So the point is that continuing the aggression on the flop works in many situations, but folks shouldn't take it as a blanket rule.

In one of those Skalansky minutes (or whatever they are called) during the Pokercast he said this same thing.
 
Top