In my last article, we discussed the idea of being more aggressive pre-flop. In this article, we continue our discussion on playing a bit more aggressively. Let’s explore post-flop play…
Fold or raise after the flop
If the flop improves your hand, consider raising it up instead of just calling. Increase your level of aggressiveness – especially from a middle/late position but not from an early position. Make your opponents sit up and take notice. When doing so, you are putting psychology – how the human mind functions – on your side. That includes your opponent’s reaction to your extra-aggressive actions. You have disturbed his “cool.” Now, he has a problem. And that is to your advantage; he is more likely to make a costly mistake.
Importantly, the above advice holds true regardless of whether you’re playing in a brick and mortar establishment or online at a place like SkyCity Online Casino. Of course, you can gauge your opponents’ reactions when you see them across the table from you, but can’t when you’re just looking at a screen. Rest assured, however, that on a technical level, the advice remains sound. More aggression, in the form of a raise, is more likely to put the pressure on your opponents.
Warning: Never play loose!
There is a big difference between aggressiveness and playing loose. Do not confuse the two. Chasing – calling bets with only a few outs – is playing much too loose; it is a sure way to lose. Avoid it. As I have elaborated upon in these pages in the past, Chasers are Losers.
Below are some additional points related to the importance, perils, and advantages of maintaining aggression post-flop.
If your starting hand is borderline, open-betting on the flop from an early or middle position may help you to steal the pot or take it after you thin the field and face less competition post-flop. Just don’t do it too often. It’s important not to become too predictable, otherwise your opponents will easily be able to counter your aggression.
Pot Odds and Card Odds
Be certain that the pot odds are higher than your card odds for a positive expectation. When that is the case, your higher level of aggressiveness helps you to control the game. Raise when it is to your advantage to force out some opponents (thin the field) or to build a pot you expect to win.
Always remember that your goal in poker is not just to win more hands, but also to win bigger pots. A check-raise often is a smarter choice – providing you are almost certain that an opponent acting behind you will make the opening bet. Consider the playing traits of those acting behind you. Tight players are likely to check behind you rather than bet out; don’t depend on them to open the betting so you can then check-raise.
With four-to-a-straight or flush – a drawing hand with lots of good outs – after the flop, open-betting can steal the pot for you. Call it a semi-bluff.
If the turn and river are both blanks, if the betting is checked to you and a tight opponent behind you seems to be drawing to a hand – a straight or flush – make the opening bet even if you did not make your own hand. Your opponents do not know what you are holding. The same would be true if the river is a scare card. Bet with confidence – using the Esther Bluff – to steal the pot.
With a decent starting hand, raising from a late position after several opponents have called to see the flop is more likely to build the pot. Likewise, when you hold a strong hand. That extra bit of aggression from a middle/late position can help.
Whatever the amount of money you usually start out a cash game session with, you will likely need to increase it substantially if you are going to play more aggressively. For example, in a $4-$8 limit game, the minimum buy-in is $40; and many players start with that amount of chips, at least at the casinos I play at in Southern California. A better option would be to start with $100 or more in chips. That gives you a stronger punch – when you play more aggressively.
Think about it. I will wager you can come up with several more good opportunities to play a bit more aggressively than you “normally” do.