by David “The Maven” Chicotsky
Sometimes the hardest poker decisions you end up making are when you should (or should not) act aggressively. The looser we play, the more tough decisions we’ll end up encountering. I feel like this is one of the reasons some players stay tight for their entire playing career - they know they’ll be put in a bunch of tough spots if they get involved in more hands.
The way a loose aggressive player approaches the game, they’re forced to view tough decisions as part of the process toward profitability. In essence, they feel they are getting paid more to make tougher decisions more often. It’s akin to playing a harder level on a video game: when you beat the harder level you get a better reward. When should we put pressure on our opponents; pre-flop, post-flop, or both - and to what degree? General logic follows that the less pressure we put on an opponent pre-flop, the more often we’ll be facing them post-flop. Meaning, when we make small re-raises, our opponents will fold less often pre-flop than when we make larger re-raises. If we just call our opponent or over-limp after they’ve limped, we’re deferring the opportunity to put pressure on them. In these hands, we’re only distributing our hand strength across the equation, as there is no fold equity we’re benefiting from.
If we encounter a player that seems to be tough to play against post-flop, we’ll naturally trend our bets towards the higher side. If an opponent is very weak post-flop, there is no imperative to re-raise him big pre-flop, because if he does call we’re confident we’ll be able to control our opponent post-flop. Once you decide whether to apply pressure to an opponent, you’ll need to come up with a plan of attack that will help you achieve your goals. Be sure to look for reasons to re-raise someone smaller than they are accustomed to, while also working in medium and large sized re-raises. Nothing is done in a vacuum, so plan to follow up your pre-flop aggression with the appropriate level of postflop aggression.
David “The Maven” Chicotsky is the 2008 Online Player of the Year and a former No. 1 ranked online tournament poker player. He is also an experienced poker coach and can be reached at TheMavenTraining.com.