Having to deal with aggressive players at the tables isn’t anyone’s dream scenario. Aggressive players are tricky because they constantly pile on the pressure and force you to make tough decisions. Even if you enjoy the mind games and action, at some point, dealing with all this aggression can become quite frustrating.
To try and help you with this issue, this article will offer you three tips on how to play poker against aggressive players. While their game-plan is usually better and more effective than the one employed by passive calling stations, for example, their aggressive tendencies can be used against them if you make proper strategy adjustments.
1. Don’t be afraid to answer aggression with aggression
One thing that aggressive players are really good at is attacking weakness. This, at times, can make them look really scary, especially when dealing with experienced LAGs who know what they’re doing.
However, these players are often not used to dealing with aggression themselves and if you occasionally make a stand, you’ll be surprised how often you’ll win.
Whether you play poker online or in a live setting, once you identify someone as a really aggressive player, you need to open your pre-flop game against them. By that, I do not mean that you should be opening more hands pre-flop (which is not good because you will be facing many 3-bets), but don’t be afraid to 3-bet their frequent raises and 4-bet their 3-bets.
Mix things up with some value hands and some bluffs containing blockers to keep the balance but don’t let them keep doing their thing without consequences.
If their hand ranges are too wide, you can exploit this by challenging them, especially when in position. Thus, make sure to follow Texas Holdem poker cheat sheets to get a solid starting point and then adjust these ranges to counter aggressive players.
2. Trap them with your big hands
One of the biggest traps aggressive players fall into is not being able to control their aggression. This leaves them vulnerable to observant players who understand what they’re doing. If you pick up a big hand against an aggressive player, whether before the flop or on the flop, you need to allow them to stay in control and keep pushing the action.
Aggressive players will often fold in face of aggression; however, if you disguise your hand and let them barrel away, they’ll often fire multiple bets in hopes of getting you off what seems like a mediocre hand at best. While this approach has some risks, as they’ll occasionally make their hands and win the pot, it is definitely the best way to extract chips from them.
Although these players will often fire big on multiple streets, you need to be capable of calling them down with what stands to be the best hand a large percentage of the time. Don’t start second-guessing yourself halfway through the hand unless the board run-out is truly horrible and warrants reconsidering.
3. Do not overplay speculative hands
You want to trap aggressive players with big hands that have a decent showdown value and don’t require too much help on the flop. Trying to flop sets or make straights against these types of players can end up being a very expensive endeavor in the long-term as they’ll keep firing, meaning that you’ll have to concede all the pots where you miss. At the same time, given their wide range, you might not even get their entire stack when you do flop big.
Given this fact, you should be very particular with your hand selection before the flop and avoid playing speculative hands against these players, especially out of position. You will have more than enough opportunities to catch these players with big hands so you don’t necessarily need to get involved with your mediocre holdings and get yourself in difficult spots.