Poker School

Playing Tight-Aggressive Poker

Even though there is several numbers of styles while playing poker, different players adapt different playing styles to suit certain situations and their opponents. Playing tight aggressive poker is one of the most successful and widely used strategies among the poker players around the world.

In this poker lesson, we are completely concentrating on tight aggressive play as it is considered to be the best style for beginners to adopt.

"Tight play" basically means to play only the strong hands and fold every weak hand. While, "aggressive play" means to make bets and raises most of the time with almost any range of cards, and rarely calls.

But, a player who follows tight aggressive style tend to wait for an opportunity and takes advantage from it to make maximum profit. At the same time, he/she avoids most of the weaker hands to reduce his losses.

In poker, there are several situations which require you to make minor deviations from the rules. But, get a hold on to the basics first and then take it from there on your own style.

TIGHT PLAY:

In Texas Hold'em poker there are 169 different starting hands, but only a few of them are considered to be profitable.

Sometimes you will get dealt with premium hands like pocket Aces Aces (A♥-A♣) or an Ace-king (A♣-K♦). But more often you will get dealt with weak hands like (7♣-8♦) or (9♠-5♠), or trash hands like (4♦-7♣) or (3♣-6♥). In case if you are holding weaker hands while your opponent has a strong hand, you are at a remarkable disadvantage right from the start.

Even professional poker players are not able to make long-term profit in such situations. Therefore, it is really important to fold pre-flop if you are not holding a strong starting hand.

This style of playing poker is known as "tight", a tight poker player is extremely selective and plays hands only if they think they have an advantage. While considering an average at a normal poker table, players are advised to play only 15 to 20 percentages of hands they are dealt with. This indicates that a player should fold pre-flop in four out of five cases.

But, a huge number players doesn't consider this suggestion and tends to get involved in almost every hand, this style of playing poker is called "loose".

AGGRESSIVE PLAY:

Aggression is a style in poker which involves continuous calls, bets and raises, for the sole purpose of controlling the game in your favour. Most of the successful poker players are known for their aggressive playing style. While holding the best hand, it is very important to make bets frequently in order to maximize the pot.

Basically, you want your opponents to call on your bets if you are holding a hand which has the most chances of winning the pot. Even if all of your opponents fold their cards, you are still at profit since you won the pot without showing your hands. This happens only when you do a lot of betting and raising.

If you are following passive play (opposite of aggressive with less bets and raise) while holding a good hand, the pot remains small which allows your opponents to chase their luck till the river.

For example,

Blinds: 50/100

Player-X: K♠ Q♠

Player-Y: 9♣ 10♣

Flop: Q♥ 8♦ 3♣

Player-X hits a pair of Queens in the flop, which is by far the best hand on the table. Meanwhile, Player-Y is holding a weak hand, but with a good chance of making a straight from nine to king only if a jack shows up on the turn or river.

Most common three possible outcomes for the above situation:

  1. Player-X wins the pot of 150 by making a bet of 100 to which player Y folds.
  2. Player-X makes a bet 100 and Player-Y calls, the pot size increases. Player-X has higher probability of winning. Hence, such an outcome is more profitable than forcing your opponent to fold.
  3. If Player-X don't bet and do check, Player-Y will most probably do the same. Thus, Player-Y is left with a chance to hit a jack and make a straight without any investment.

Thus; it is clear that in such situations, making a bet is much better than doing a check. Checking here is a mistake since you are letting your opponent chase their luck for free.

In some cases, few poker players refuse to make a bet even if they are holding a good hand. They do this because of the reason that, they don't want their opponents to fold. This particular style of playing is known as "slow play". Anyhow, slow playing often ends up in a mistake; since you are giving your opponent a chance to chase their lucky draws without having them to invest any money.

In case if you are holding a very weak hand and you make a bet in order to make your opponents fold, you are doing a bluff. Bluffing is one of those factors which add up the level of excitement in the game of poker. However, doing a bluff as a beginner has to be very careful and should not be done frequently. It is always advised to fold weak hands and make bets aggressively when you are dealt with good cards.

COLLECTING AND UTILIZING INFORMATION

The real fun in poker would have been lost if every player's cards were dealt face-up. If it was dealt in such a way, players would only make a bet if they are having a stronger hand and folds if they are having a weak hand. The card which you got dealt with is the only factor which decides the winner here.

But while playing online poker for real, the opponent's hole cards are totally private making the game much tougher at the same time more engaging. But an experienced poker player makes educated guess about their opponent's hole cards based on their action patterns. Even though, you cannot guess your opponent's cards 100 per cent correctly, it helps you to make proper decisions. By gathering more information, you can play better.

Basically, if your opponent makes a bet or raise, he is telling he has a strong hand. Likewise, if he only calls, his hole cards are neither that weak nor that strong and most probably he is working on improving his hand by flop, turn or the river. In case if the player opts to fold, he is telling that his hands are too weak.

For example, you are holding an A♥ J♠ in the dealer position, which is a decent but not a top-notch starting hand. As your position is in favour for you to observe your opponent's moves, you can adjust your gameplay accordingly.

Two possible situations:

  • If all your opponents folds, you are in great advantage since there are only two players who are still active in the game, which are the big blind and the small blind. You can go for a raise since you are holding a decent hand.
  • In case if a player in the early position raise and every other opponent folds, you are most probably in disadvantage. Basically, a player in the early positions doesn't make a raise unless he is holding an excellent starting hand. The chance of you winning against such a strong hand is very less therefore you should fold.

In this example, the additional information that you collected from other players makes you capable of taking the best decision. If you were in one of those early positions, u won't be able to collect as much information as in a late position. This proves that you can play more number of profitable hands when you are in the right position.

CONCLUSION:

A beginner poker player typically wants to play more hands and play them weakly most times. They prefer to check or call instead of making a bet or raise. Basically, instead of playing "tight-aggressive" they play "loose-passive".

They make the mistake of playing from early position; when the amount of information available is very less, instead of waiting until the situation is suitable for them to act upon what their opponents are telling them. At times, they even miss their chances of making good profit mostly by not paying attention.

Practically it is not possible to play "tight aggressive" always, but in case of a beginner poker player it is the best style to get started.

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