How to play against smart aggressive players

Everybody has had a hard time figuring what is the best tactics to use against the smart aggressive players at the poker table. Before elaborating more on the issue, it is helpful to emphasize the features of this type of player.

The Smart Aggressive opponent raises from last positions (cut off, button) to steal the blinds when everybody has folded before him or just when a tight player has called. The smart aggressive player is very active so you may want to sit at his left at the poker table in order to take advantage of the position and the information provided by his actions. When you are out of position, it is best to not get involved in too many pots with him.

Nevertheless, if you sit in one of the first two places at the smart aggressive player’s left, you will lose position when you are small blind or big blind. He will raise a lot from button and cut off positions in order to steal the blinds so you must put a fight now and then to keep him honest. You can’t let him abuse you all the time because the blinds are the soul of the poker table (they bring in the action, without them the players will just stay and wait the best hand preflop: pocket aces). When the smart aggressive player raises from the button and there are already one or more people in hand you’d better fold because you’ll be out of position. When nobody enters the hand and he raises, you have to analyze if he has a real hand or he just bluffs, and you can do that by analyzing the frequency of his raises from last position. If he often does this, you must protect your blind with hands that beat his range (range represents the type of hands you think he raises with when on the button position). It’s a big mistake to call with any two cards. When you don’t hit the flop you have two options to chose from: to check/fold after his continuation bet on flop, or the check/raise bluff making him believe that you had hit big. Of course, the last one can’t be used too often.

When you hit the flop don’t lead by betting on the flop. If you lead, the aggressive player will most probably fold and then you lose money on the long term. Why is that? Because you hit the flop 1/3 of times. Let’s say for example that the first two times the button raises 3 times big blind (BB), you call, you don’t hit so you check and finally fold and at the end you have – 6BB. The third time you hit and you can win the pot of 6BB, 3 yours and 3 your opponent’s. But in the end you are still -3BB. Therefore, to be profitable, you have to check/raise in the pot of 6BB. In this case he will probably bet 4BB more and then you raise to 10 BB and win the pot. This third time you win 7BB: his initial 3BB raise preflop and 4BB his bet on flop. 7BB-6BB (lost when you didn’t hit the flop) = 1BB which leaves you on profit.

Another alternatives is to re-raise before the flop hoping that the button will fold. In order to throw him out of the pot you should 3-bet; a minimum raise in this spot is a mistake.

One Response to “How to play against smart aggressive players”

  1. Justin Says:

    If you want to compete and win in every casino games that you are playing, you must know how to deal with every players that you encounter.