Playing aggressive poker is a trademark of some of the most successful poker professionals in the world. By playing aggressively you take control of the action and make other players afraid of getting in to pots with you because you are always pushing them. It takes a lot of discipline and skill to be able to play aggressively and not to slip in to reckless play.
Passive Versus Agressive Play
Aggressive players control the tempo of play while passive players follow it. By being aggressive you will make other players in the game afraid to mix it up with you in a hand while being passive you will find that other players will be picking on you the entire night. Now it is possible to play more than one style of play and in fact it is preferable if you are capable of doing this. Being able to switch gears is a very important skill that needs to be refined. Based upon the play of the rest of the table you may want to adjust your own play. An example of this is in very low limit games where play often leaves aggressive and moves in to a reckless mode. In this type of a game, passive play may be the most indicated style because you know there is going to be plenty of action and you also know that no matter how aggressive that you become, other players in the game will continue to play.
Some of the truly great poker professionals that we like to watch on television like Phil Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and even young stars like Tom “durrr” Dwan are very aggressive in the way that the play the game of poker. They do, however, know when to rein it in and to slow down and they are rarely seen to make moves that can be considered wild rather than aggressive. This is controlled aggression. Then you have a poker professional like Mike Matusow who plays a passive aggressive game and usually does very well with it until he has, what has been termed as, a “Mike Matusow blow up”. What is happening when he has one of these blow ups is that he passes from aggressive to reckless and ends up endangering his entire stack in a bad situation. All of the benefits that you will gain from a night of aggressive play in a no limit hold em game can be forfeited by losing control and making one reckless play that causes you to lose your entire stack in a situation that was not necessary.
Reckless play is often a result of aggression gone wild. While a3 or a 4 bet might be appropriate aggressive play pre flop, it turns in to reckless post flop if you completely miss and after being checked to you shove all in for 3 times the size of the pot. That is being aggressive and not being and that is a very bad combination.
A perfect balance
While perfection is almost certainly unattainable, with discipline and practice, you can come close to being an aggressive poker player and not a reckless poker player. By achieving this balance you will be on your way to a successful career in poker.
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