The Dance of Poker Aggression

by ~ December 16th, 2009. Filed under: Fold equity, aggression and bluffing, Instructional posts, Philosophy and approach.

Picture yourself walking along a path on the side of a hill. Each step is like folding preflop. Fold, fold, fold. Then you decide to raise preflop. This is like a stomp, or a step off the path, a forceful step, asserting that you have a hand, that you’re not afraid to increase the stakes. You get a caller from the blinds. Flop is dry. You continuation bet, like stomping your other foot.

Image by Nataraj Metz

Image by Nataraj Metz

Aggression in poker is like a dance. You step, step, step, stomp, then stomp again.

But here’s one of the keys. With each stomp, you do so under control. You don’t stomp in a way that will throw you off balance. It’s a controlled step, so if a tight player re-raises you preflop, you can step back, fold. Just like when you step off the path and the footing starts to give way, you maintain your balance so that you can return to the path. Wait for a better situation. Live to fight another day.

So here’s one of the problems with playing aggressively. You step off the path (raise), get one caller. You have top pair or an overpair. On the flop you step (bet) again, get called again. The turn comes and you step (bet) again, but the tight or passive player in the blind check-raises you. Now is the time to regain your balance and fold; you’re probably beat.

This play by the opponent is commonly known as a Beluga, coined by Beluga Whale, an instructor with Deuces Cracked, and his theory states that when you get check-raised on the turn like this, especially by a non-aggressive player, it means he’s got at least two pair if not a set or better.

But what I’m focusing on here is the control. You stomp, stomp, but you’ve got to remain under control. You don’t keep stepping when a check or a fold is more appropriate. A lot of beginner TAGs can’t do this. They raise preflop with AA or other big hand, see a decent flop, and then they can’t let go. They’ve lost their balance, they’re committed, they’ve stomped and fallen off the path, tumbling away down the side of the hill.

btw, I find the same thing with the Wii Fit Plus balance board. Snowball Fight, Slalom, Penguin fish eating, if I don’t keep my balance while leaning to one side or the other then I can’t get back fast enough and I get smacked in the head with a snowball, miss the gate, or fall off the iceberg into the water.


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