Aggressive play, or rather the style of play, is, in short, a preference for bets and raises over calls and checks. The advice to play a more assertive game can be safely considered one of the most popular in poker. At the same time, not every advisor explains in what situations and how to properly build such a game.
Also, you should not confuse a bunch of concepts "aggressive / passive" player with the definitions of "loose / tight", since the last two terms refer to the frequency of played hands (more often and less often, respectively).
The main advantage of the aggressive style is that the poker player has an additional opportunity to win the pot. In other words, you can pick it up when everyone folds, not just at showdown on the best hand.
How to play an aggressive game
Speaking of the ways of playing aggressive games, it is worth remembering that there are many of them in no limit hold'em. For example, preflop will be the aggressive player who 3-bets and opens-raises more often than usual. Squeezers, 3-betting callers with open-raisers, as well as poker players who regularly isolate limpers play assertively.
Several forms of non-passive play are also available on the flop. Among the most popular examples is the continuation bet - a bet that gives the flop a continuation of the aggressive preflop raiser style. Other options are continuation bet raises, check-raises, floats on the flop. Any of the above techniques will work on the turn as well, being aggressive to varying degrees depending on the situation. You can close the draws with a powerful card on the river - a bluff or value bet will look very aggressive.
It is a well-known fact that poker players who often use the techniques described above are almost immediately included in the list of aggressive players. However, in order for the moves to be effective, they must be carried out on time - it is very difficult to play against a competent, assertive player.
One of the fundamental recommendations for green beginners is: "When your opponent checks (in particular on the flop), you need to bet - regardless of the strength of the hand." Such aggression is justified because in most cases it is profitable. But this is just a starting point. Here's a list of helpful tips on when to play aggressively:
- If the opponents are tight. That is, players who don't play very many hands, rather than those who tend to call and check. Opponents that are too tight are almost unable to offer resistance to the aggressor and give up the pots - but for the time being. If your opponent gets tired of losing, he can change his style of play and snap back, so you should be careful and not overdo it with assertiveness.
- If the opponent shows weakness. Indicators of weakness are check-calls, limps, check post-flop, small donk-bets. Of course, we are not talking about the opponent's level of play, but about insufficiently powerful cards.
- When you have a wider range of cards. In some cases, this becomes simply obvious, so by making a big bet or raise you will make your opponent lose - even if he has top or over pair.
- If your opponent thinks you are a tight player. Here we are talking about the case when you combine a tight game with an aggressive one, and, for example, about forced situations when the cards in your hand come across weak ones. However, if you catch your opponent on suspicion of being tight, you can make an aggressive move, gaining genuine respect and providing a lot of fold equity.
- For short boards. The number of players at the table should be inversely proportional to the number of aggressive moves: the fewer people in the game, the more it is recommended to make 3-bets and open-raises preflop, as well as not to lose assertiveness postflop.
And remember: an aggressive game requires not only theory, but also practice, because the ability to choose the moment and make an effective move is acquired over time during the game.