Aggression

People usually want to be aggressive to “take control of the hand” or “seize the initiative”; however, as we have said these are not ends in themselves, just examples of hazy thinking. Taking control of the hand is meaningless; it’s almost synonymous with a couple of le‐ gitimate reasons, which are “betting now to prevent a bluff later on” and “betting for information”. These ideas are more Limit poker ideas than NLHE ones. In NLHE since the bet sizes are not small fractions of the pot but rather close to pot size most of the time, they are significant and can’t be thrown around. Betting for information is too expensive, in fact it doesn’t really accomplish much except for sometimes making a hand easier to play.

But making a hand easy to play is not the same as making it more profitable. In NLHE instead of betting for information it’s better to just check, and then you won’t have the information but you also won’t have thrown out a sizeable bet, and without the information you’ll just have to make an educated guess and come to the best de‐ cision you can. Similarly, instead of betting to prevent a bluff, just check. And then if he bets, now you have a decision to make. If you are afraid he’s bluffing you a lot then simply start calling him down with weaker hands.

Being aggressive is ok to accomplish certain things – when you are aggressive and betting or raising it could be to gain value or to bluff the opponent. As shown above that gains real money, but just “be‐ ing aggressive” does not gain anything in itself unless it is used as a tool to gain something. So be specific and figure out what exactly you are trying to gain and what the thing you are trying to gain is worth.

Another important factor to consider is the skill of your opponent – for example whether they will outplay you on the river. If you check the turn and they are a bad player, you can maybe pick off a bluff on the river when the draw misses, and fold when it hits. But if they’re better than you, maybe they’ll outplay you on the river with a bluff and you will lose the whole pot – so now you might want to bet to protect yourself against getting bluffed later in the hand.

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