Does it really pay off to often play aggressively?

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tealurker

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Rookie here following the 30-day course at the moment. Currently going through day 10 I again encounter a situation where aggressive play is encouraged, namely semi-bluffing draws.

My experience isn't huge. I often played with friends throughout my life and sometimes online. Also, I read half a book over 5 years ago of which I don't even recall the title.

I do remember that aggressive play was often recommended in a variety of situations. However, I get the feeling that I'm just throwing my chips away by so often making an aggressive play: i.a. c-betting, semi-bluffing, shoving with <15bb stacks.

Does anyone recognise this and have some advice or insight on the matter?
At the moment I'm practising with micro-stakes online. I undoubtedly still make tons of mistakes playing, but I would just be very interested in a point of view from an experienced player.
 
Ventoman777

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Rookie here following the 30-day course at the moment. Currently going through day 10 I again encounter a situation where aggressive play is encouraged, namely semi-bluffing draws.

My experience isn't huge. I often played with friends throughout my life and sometimes online. Also, I read half a book over 5 years ago of which I don't even recall the title.

I do remember that aggressive play was often recommended in a variety of situations. However, I get the feeling that I'm just throwing my chips away by so often making an aggressive play: i.a. c-betting, semi-bluffing, shoving with <15bb stacks.

Does anyone recognise this and have some advice or insight on the matter?
At the moment I'm practising with micro-stakes online. I undoubtedly still make tons of mistakes playing, but I would just be very interested in a point of view from an experienced player.

Aggression makes the bank bigger, and that’s what you need when you have a strong hand. Only with bets and raises you can guarantee yourself a good profit.
Have you noticed how much harder it is to play against someone who constantly puts and raises, compared to someone who prefers to check and call more? Become an uncomfortable opponent, and regulars will try to avoid you whenever possible.
 
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tealurker

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Aggression makes the bank bigger, and that’s what you need when you have a strong hand. Only with bets and raises you can guarantee yourself a good profit.
Have you noticed how much harder it is to play against someone who constantly puts and raises, compared to someone who prefers to check and call more? Become an uncomfortable opponent, and regulars will try to avoid you whenever possible.

Cheers, very true.
It's probably more of an emotional/fish thing being afraid to put my stack on the line. In micro-stakes cash games I feel like everybody almost always calls my bets though, but I guess that just means I have to play very tight.
 
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dregan

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I don’t play aggressively because I don’t want to lose chips in vain. You can play aggressively but not always. With a large stack, I sometimes allow myself not only an aggressive game, but I use more bluffs.
 
tauri103

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it’s true that by adding aggressiveness to your strategy, you’ll be able to steal pots that shouldn’t be yours. If you can determine when your opponent has a strong hand that he does not plan to pass. you will quietly accumulate more chips. it is advisable to apply this strategy when there are too many passive players on your table. their lack of desire to fight should push you to play very aggressively and to adapt to their playing styles or weaknesses. but keep in mind that in general players bet too often and don't fold enough. because a good aggressive player is a player who knows when to fold thanks to a good reading of the game of these opponents.
 
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Transitley

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I am in a similar situation experience wise to u and feel I now have a much better balance of aggression and passiveness through the 30 day course.

Key thing that made a difference is understanding that u still must fold or shutdown if u don’t feel u have the best hand. Sounds so simple but I used to barrel off multiple streets and get called down losing a load.

The cost of calling on two or three streets is greater than a raise that will give u more info. If u get reraised u can fold if u think u r beat, or shutdown and if he raises on a later street if u do decide to call it is cheaper.

By raising more even if I lose some hands, later in a SnG I’ll find people fold to me in the BB as they know I might raise even though I haven’t played aggressively in that position- at the low stakes, as per the course, tight early on then easy to be aggressive with super strong hands and then Later on you get loads of respect (fold equity) with all hands due to high blinds.


Just a couple of points I found helpful!
 
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vinnie

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Yes. It absolutely pays off to be aggressive. If you have specific hands that you think the aggression was a problem, you can work through them. Often, it wasn't the aggression that was a problem. If you shove 15xbb from the SB with 88 and the BB calls with AA, the shove was still good.

Betting your draws as a semi-bluff usually relies on some amount of fold-equity. If your opponent will never fold, they won't always be the best decision. You might still want to bet the draw, for other reasons. But, you usually will have some amount of fold equity, even at the micros.

And so on. You just win more by being aggressive.
 
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tealurker

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Thanks for all the insights everyone.

Yes. It absolutely pays off to be aggressive. If you have specific hands that you think the aggression was a problem, you can work through them. Often, it wasn't the aggression that was a problem. If you shove 15xbb from the SB with 88 and the BB calls with AA, the shove was still good.

Betting your draws as a semi-bluff usually relies on some amount of fold-equity. If your opponent will never fold, they won't always be the best decision. You might still want to bet the draw, for other reasons. But, you usually will have some amount of fold equity, even at the micros.

And so on. You just win more by being aggressive.

This is good for me to keep in mind, thanks. Sometimes when losing a seemingly correct shove it is difficult to stay objective and analyse whether my actions were correct or not.
 
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Suzana2304

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I play aggressively sometimes at the start of some tournament which price is not so big because I believe that I have some luck and it helps most of the time.
 
Nafor

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Smart aggressive play can pay off. But way too often I see players who have tripled their stack early in the tournament by being aggro only to bust out before me. There is a fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness.
 
lattedank

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Being aggresive the right way is gonna get you money. If you put your opponents on ranges, you can win hands without hitting anything on the board by betting on the flop. But again, you have to be aggresive the right way.
 
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CallmeFloppy

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Aggression has many benefits.

First, you are forcing your opponents to make decisions. Even if you end up losing the hand, you are learning how your opponent reacts to different situations. Once you learn those tendencies, you are then able to manipulate your opponent into doing what you want them to do based on what you learned. It is my belief that this is why we see pros on tv play odd hands in weird ways. They are trying to create a reaction that they learned in other hands we never saw or didn't pay attention to.

Being aggressive also limits your opponents chances to draw out on you.

Aggression allows you to win from a fold instead of just having the best hand.

And the final one I will list even though there are a ton more, is think about the opponents that you least like playing against. They are prolly the ones that keep pressure on you making you have to make tough decisions over and over. Its mentally exhausting. Why not be the one making the pressure rather than the one under it.
 
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Comboss599

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I think it's good to change strategy during tournament from time to time. Playing aggressively all the time is not good but playing some piece of tournament can be great.
 
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tealurker

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Smart aggressive play can pay off. But way too often I see players who have tripled their stack early in the tournament by being aggro only to bust out before me. There is a fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness.

This is a great point. Indeed, I see the same phenomenon in tournaments and cash games, that, as you call them, reckless players' stacks are very volatile and they do not have control over their own game. Finding this fine line between appropriate aggressiveness and being too loose is what I guess I'll have to, at least in part, learn from experience.

Aggression has many benefits.

First, you are forcing your opponents to make decisions. Even if you end up losing the hand, you are learning how your opponent reacts to different situations. Once you learn those tendencies, you are then able to manipulate your opponent into doing what you want them to do based on what you learned. It is my belief that this is why we see pros on tv play odd hands in weird ways. They are trying to create a reaction that they learned in other hands we never saw or didn't pay attention to.

Being aggressive also limits your opponents chances to draw out on you.

Aggression allows you to win from a fold instead of just having the best hand.

And the final one I will list even though there are a ton more, is think about the opponents that you least like playing against. They are prolly the ones that keep pressure on you making you have to make tough decisions over and over. Its mentally exhausting. Why not be the one making the pressure rather than the one under it.

Thank you, these ideas help me a lot. Even though subconsciously I might 'know' these things, it is difficult to consciously integrate them in an active game. It is indeed not always about winning just the one hand, but also about learning from your opponents to win future hands. I liked your comparison with unexpected/difficult to understand behaviour by pros. I have noticed this, and your explanation makes a lot of sense.
 
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1nsomn1a

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Aggressive poker - winning poker.

The only thing you need is to correctly select the size of bets, based on the opponent's fold equity, so that everything is in profit at the distance. In difficult situations, make a re-raise, make your opponent think. A raise is always better than a call, and you will never make your opponent fold with a call.:)
 
poker_bro

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There are also good passive players. You need to know WHEN to be aggressive and when not. If you are having good holdings against mouse, by aggressivenes you only scare him away and you lose money. Sometimes good regulars will use your aggressiveness against you by trapping. So, yes, aggressive playing style should be your basic setting, but don't fall in love too much, more important is to learn how to adjust, and this happen by gaining experience.
 
IntenseHeat

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I definitely believe that aggression pays off. How often have you gotten involved in a pot with a strong starting hand, then checked all the way to the river before taking a stab and betting at it, only to see that your opponent, made a small pair on the river with a weak starting hand? The moment your brain registers the hands, you realize that your opponent had zero equity on the flop and turn and would almost certainly have folded to the slightest bit of aggression on your part. Of course aggression has the potential to backfire real quick. Being overly aggressive can lead to being trapped.

A little pre-flop aggression, in the form of a raise or 3-bet, goes a long way. It will not only limit the number of players involved in the hand, but by being aggressive, the aggressor effectively takes control of the hand. This will usually give them a tactical advantage throughout the rest of the hand. Unless you smash the flop, it can be hard to stand up to the heat of continued post-flop aggression. Even if you suspect that they are being aggressive with speculative or even weak hands, the difficulty of putting them on a specific range, makes it hard to continue if you miss the flop.

I played against a player the other day, that I initially suspected was simply a LAGtard. The longer I watched him play, the more I had to respect his aggressive play. I watched this player take down pot after pot raising behind limped players, 3-betting raisers, and always continuing his aggression post-flop. Then came a hand where several players limped into the pot in front of him. I was wondering why limp when you know this guy is going to raise, unless you're planning to jam over the top of him. When he folded, I assumed he probably had the same thought that I did. That's when I began to suspect there might be more to this player than blind aggression. Then of course came the hand when I raised and he 3-bet me. When I jammed all-in over the top of him, he took a little time, then folded. That let me know that he wasn't a maniac. He had enough sense to know when it was best not to press his luck.

I actually enjoyed playing with this guy. He seemed to recognize that I was onto his style of play and realized that I was looking to set a trap for him with a big hand. This made for an interesting game as we went back and forth. Sometimes I had to fold a good starting hand after completely missing the flop. Other times I was able to win the hand with a well timed check/raise bluff. There were hands that went to showdown, where I was able to win the pot with ace high after calling several bluffs. After all, respecting aggression doesn't mean that I'm going to be afraid of it or not stand up against it. Of course my intention was never to try to out aggress and aggressive player. So while I picked my spots to stand my ground, he continued to do well against the more passive players at the table, until he was eventually reseated.
 
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Phoenix Wright

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Smart aggressive play can pay off. But way too often I see players who have tripled their stack early in the tournament by being aggro only to bust out before me. There is a fine line between aggressiveness and recklessness.

Aggression has many benefits.

First, you are forcing your opponents to make decisions. Even if you end up losing the hand, you are learning how your opponent reacts to different situations. Once you learn those tendencies, you are then able to manipulate your opponent into doing what you want them to do based on what you learned. It is my belief that this is why we see pros on tv play odd hands in weird ways. They are trying to create a reaction that they learned in other hands we never saw or didn't pay attention to.

Being aggressive also limits your opponents chances to draw out on you.

Aggression allows you to win from a fold instead of just having the best hand.

And the final one I will list even though there are a ton more, is think about the opponents that you least like playing against. They are prolly the ones that keep pressure on you making you have to make tough decisions over and over. Its mentally exhausting. Why not be the one making the pressure rather than the one under it.

There are also good passive players. You need to know WHEN to be aggressive and when not. If you are having good holdings against mouse, by aggressivenes you only scare him away and you lose money. Sometimes good regulars will use your aggressiveness against you by trapping. So, yes, aggressive playing style should be your basic setting, but don't fall in love too much, more important is to learn how to adjust, and this happen by gaining experience.


I agree with these posts. Aggression isn't the ONLY way to play successfully, but it is a strong way to play and surely should be the default for someone unsure about what to do. As noted, Aggressive is not the same as reckless and also worth noting is that aggressive doesn't necessarily mean playing looser - it means playing the hands you do choose to play aggressively.

In the 30 day course (which I highly recommend), poker pro Collin Moshman (for most of the videos) features a little more aggressive style than I personally would use most of the time, but his choices are math-based. He has enough fold equity to justify his moves like semi-bluffing, but I think the main thing to not overlook is that playing aggressive gives you an "extra way to win." If you are trapping, then your check will NEVER win by getting the opponent to fold, but applying betting pressure might even if you don't hit your hand. Also worth mentioning is that this "aggression" is usually building the pot when we are likely to have the best hand - so really it is more like value betting. In the case of semi-bluffing, hitting our hand is only back-up in many cases because we will get folds a lot of the time. There is a fine line to follow though: you do not want to always be semi-bluffing and building the pot though; we don't want to become a maniac player ourselves.
 
Adi8877

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I rarely do as it backfires for me most of the times. Sometimes, in micro tourneys, I've tried, it does not takes me to the ITM so often, than my regular play, however it happened that the ROI was much higher, I've never played like that through weeks, months, so hard to decide, it would pay off or not. Personally, for me, probably not.
 
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