Aggressiveness in Poker (The Game Is Changing)
Welcome to my personal blog for CoinPoker! After playing and placing In-The-Money in the most recent NLH Monthly Freebuy tournament, I wanted to prepare a special series about aggressiveness in poker. As such, we are taking a momentary break from the blogs about best openings in Open Face Chinese Poker in order to go back to the roots of No Limit Hold’em play. Shuffle up and deal!
Aggressiveness is a good thing but there is a “but”…
As we saw over the last five blog posts it’s a common belief that in the Hold’em Poker world, you have to be very aggressive in order to win.
However, in order to know how aggressive one should be, there will be a few factors needed to be taken into consideration, such as your level of play, the game format you are playing, the style of play of your opponents, as well as handling super aggressive players, and how to counterattack these aggro guys and how to stay unpredictable by being aggressive enough.
Remember that the game keeps changing…
When I first started playing poker, the way No Limit Hold’em was played wasn’t at all like the way we play today or even how it was played a few years later, when it first started to go mainstream.
I was lucky to have mentors and to learned from players such as Gus Hansen (yes, the aggro archetype) and Paul Magriel, who both developed an aggro-style.
Just to give you an idea of how NLH was at that time, let’s just say that… a continuation bet did not even exist yet! So being aggressive in 2003 had a huge impact, simply because nobody was aggressive, and no one knew how to react to it.
In fact, thanks to my aggressive style of playing, it is the reason why and how I won a WPT title in 2004 and earned my nickname “No Mercy Mercier”, thanks to Mike Sexton (who will stay in our hearts forever).
But as years went by, more and more players used the 3-bets technique which became more and more popular. The game had evolved. Later, we saw even more aggressive players coming in the field, many from Germany and Scandinavia.
They played their 7-4 like a pair of jacks (at least) and seemed to be fearless. They 5-bets all-in like it was normal. Many took advantage of this strategy and even won major tournaments.
The problem is that if over-aggressiveness can pay off, it can also result in losing very big pots. This is the “high variance” factor.
That’s why other players chose the “Small Ball” strategy, so they don’t have to suffer much from the variance. They will limp rather than raise so they can see as many flops as possible and control the size of the pots. They are the kings of limps and check techniques.
Do they lack aggressiveness? No, they simply have a different basic strategy, but they are also capable of becoming very aggressive when needed.
We will come back in future articles on the notion of aggression in poker, because it is central and very complex, but what you should remember is that you have to be minimally aggressive in order not to get stepped upon and blinded out because you only play JJ+ or AK-AQ.
Remember and try to adjust your game depending on the situation and the type of players you’re facing.
Also take into consideration the structure of the tournament you’re playing, the level you’re at, and how expensive antes and blinds are. Always analyze your stack size; 100 BB or 12 BB?
The more you play, the more precise you’ll become and eventually, you will know when to be Mister Aggro and when to be Mister “Wait for a better hand”.
Good luck at CoinPoker tables!
Meet me at the tables on CoinPoker to practice your skills and enjoy the action. Open yourself a CoinPoker account today!
Isabelle “No Mercy” Mercier
OFC “Progressive” World Champion