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Poker bets: aggressive style

Why players make bets?

Learning about poker has surely provided you with some knowledge on the basics of betting, raising and calling. In this lesson, we will take another step forward and teach you betting in different situations. Note that aggressive style brings more profit when used in a long game, so today we'll consider situations which this style is relevant for. The best poker coaches believe that “adequate” aggression enables you to gain more and can significantly reduce your opponents' winnings.

Pre-flop betting

There are many reasons for raising pre-flop in No Limit Hold'em. It's important to have a plan before making bets. The goals to be achieved are listed below:

LIMPERS' ISOLATION. As the blinds and antes grow in the course of the tournament, the value of money in the pot increases. If your stack shrinks with the pot growth, then you need to play more aggressively. As you can see, many poker players don't raise, they simply limp in the hope of seeing the flop at no extra costs. Such players usually hold cards like suited connectors, suited /X, or .

In late position, you can raise limpers pretending a monster. Certainly, the best situation is when playing against passive players or those who will surely call your bet. The correct bet size will be approximately 2x big blind + 1 big blind for each limper. Yet, be careful and watch your stack. There's a good rule: you should hold at least 10M chips (M = your stack divided by the size of the pot pre-flop) to play normally if the game is passive, and about 15M – if playing at a loose table. With a smaller stack, you've got two options: all-in or pass.

THERE'S NO FREE FLOP. This principle is very similar to the previous one, but it includes the blinds' fight. As soon as the blinds and antes grow big enough, you should always increase the bet from the big blind position if the player at the small blind position limps. Watch your table image and try not to be predictable. Of course, there are cases when it's necessary to let the small blind into the pot cheaply. But generally you shouldn’t allow the player to simply see the flop from the small blind position; just start playing pre-flop aggressively.

Post Flop Betting

Let’s focus on post-flop strategies and tactics when playing No Limit Hold'em. Make sure you always have a plan and good reasoning for any action.

CBET is betting on the flop after you raised pre-flop (played aggressively). They indicate that your cards are good and the game is under your control. If you're choosing an aggressive game style, then this kind of bets is essential. Still, don't ignore your opponents' features and the flop structure.

You should clearly understand when such bets are relevant:

  • BET SIZE. How good are your cards? For example, you raise pre-flop, the big blind calls, the flop comes out . If you hold an ace, what bet should be made? If you bet just 1/3 the size of the pot, being in an opponent's position, would you believe there's an ace? Certainly not. Most continuation bets should be about 1/2 - 2/3 the size of the pot. But there are several factors, like the flop structure, your table image, and your stack size, that can affect your bet size.
  • NUMBER OF PLAYERS. The number of players who have called your bet pre-flop is an important factor when making a decision whether to bet or not. Another good rule is to never bluff the flop against three players.

CHECK/RAISE. There are some situations when check/raise game might be quite acceptable. Poker school for novices provides basic knowledge on when check/raise makes sense.

  • The ability to determine your hand's strength. No doubt, it can provide information about your and your opponent's cards, but this is quite an expensive way.
  • Bluff. Since check/raise are played when having a strong hand, this situation is often used to bluff, especially if the opp is fond of c-betting.
  • Desire to cause a rival to make mistakes. You can make him call even if it's not in his favor.
  • To cause re-raise. If an opponent doesn't realize the power of such a game and will respond by another raise, this will be the best way to get more chips from this player.

BETS' MEANING. It was already mentioned, that an aggressive style is crucial in poker. But when on the river, having a potentially winning hand, you should consider the importance of bets. In such a case, you may just relax and stop thinking about the game. But the most common situation is when you hold a medium strength hand and need to decide what's next to be done. A below list will help you understand and will provide you with all the answers.

  • Will they call? When making a bet, there's always a risk to lose, so sometimes it's better just to check.
  • Will your opponent check/raise? The answer to this question is contained in your knowledge of the opponent's game features.
  • Will he bluff? Again, it depends on your ability to read your opponent and understand his game' features.
  • If you check, will you cause your opp to bluff? In most cases the answer will be "yes", especially with medium strength hand; check on the river is the best way to make your rival bluff.

USING CHIPS AS WEAPON. As you can see, there are several factors to consider when betting or raising. Your table image, stack size, and your opp's behavior are just some of them. An aggressive game style is important as well. Use your chips as a weapon, but get focused on the result you want to achieve and bet accordingly.

In the next lesson, we’ll learn what the stack is and acquire skills for managing stack in different tournaments stages.

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