Aggression: A Key Strategy in Poker

Beginning poker players tend to be passive and wait for strong cards before they call or raise. That way, poker for them has become only a game of luck, relying on the cards. However, the most valuable part of poker is strategy, which does not rely much on the cards but rather on the principles of the game. One of the key strategies in poker that beginners rarely use is aggression.

The principle behind playing aggressively as a strategy in poker is that, since other players do not know what the cards in your hand are, then by playing aggressively - that is, by frequently opening and raising - then opponents could be forced into folding even if you have a weak card in hand. Aggressive playing often means that you avoid showdowns of hands, and still be able to win.

Perhaps the most popular aggressive play is the bluff. To bluff means to bet a large amount on a weak hand. The aim of the bluff, as with other aggressive plays, is to force opponents to fold, therefore earning you the pot.

Frequent opens and raises as a poker strategy would also create a space for you to intimidate your opponents. Since it would be hard to predict whether you are bluffing or not, most often players would opt to fold. Once this happens, then you are already on the path to victory, since you are already controlling the tempo of the game.

Another aggressive play is the check-raise, which is a more subtle form of a bluff. A check-raise is a poker strategy that is done when you prefer to check and call before the flop and perform a raise after the flop. This aims to evoke to your opponents that you have a hand that has improved greatly after the flop, therefore making them anxious about matching your bets.

One might think that too much aggressive playing could be very revealing for your opponents, that they could easily read you and predict your actions. However, a predictable table-image isn't necessarily negative. One could use a predictable table-image to lure opponents into acting in ways that would be very beneficial to you.

For example, if you have the table-image of the bluffer, then one would expect opponents to call and raise you more often, in the hopes of breaking your bluff. This means that if you have a strong hand, then you don't need to slow play anymore in order to lure them into putting in more money in the pot.

Aggressive playing is an effective poker strategy, although it does involves high risks. Playing aggressively means that you have a chance of losing more chips faster, since you are putting in large amounts. However, through the proper timing and execution of bluffs, opens, raises, and check-raises, one would be sure for this strategy to be profitable in the long run.