Anyone who has ever spent time at the poker table knows that sinking feeling. You sit down to find there’s a super aggressive player who will not stop betting and raising. These aggressive players always seem to be sitting to your immediate left. But fear not, for, in this article, we’ll reveal the methods you need to employ in order to combat the table maniac.
Different Types of Aggressive Players
Before we jump into the different strategies for handling aggression at the poker table, we must first understand the types of players we are dealing with. Not all aggressive players are created equally.
First of all, we have Tight-Aggressive (TAG) players. Since they don’t play too many hands – they are selective or tight – they are not likely to cause you as many problems with their aggressive betting. This article is more about those Loose-Aggressive (LAG) maniacs. Not only do they bet heavily, but they are playing an extremely wide range of hands.
Loose-Aggressive players are forever putting you to the test. They will make continuation bets almost 100% of the time. Although they manage to pick up a lot of blinds and smaller pots from passive players, they are not selective with their bluffs. These players are often afraid of looking weak, so they will rarely check a missed draw and will fire way too often at pots.
These traits give us a chance to counter them.
Strategies for Dealing With Loose-Aggressive Poker Players
Okay, now that we’re clear on what we are dealing with, how do we combat these aggressive maniacs?
Widen Your Range
Many people think that the best way to deal with overly-aggressive players is to tighten up and wait for the nuts. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t happen frequently enough to make it worthwhile. Especially in tournaments. A better adjustment is to understand that they will not have good hands as often as they represent. Therefore, you can justifiably make value plays more frequently.
For instance, let’s say you’re holding a mid-sized pocket pair such as 77 against a TAG player who three bets you. We might be looking at a bigger pair here, so we have a decision to make. However, against a LAG, there’s absolutely no fear of a premium hand. They do this kind of thing every single hand and are likely to be holding junk. 77 is a relative monster in this situation, so go to town.
On a similar note, you can be more confident that your relative hand strength is increased against such a LAG player. As a result, you can not only widen your value range, but you can increase your semi-bluff frequency.
If a LAG player comes over the top of you when you have a playable but far from premium hand, this is a good spot to take a stand. If you play back and semi-bluff, you’ll take it down in a good number of these spots. For the times you are called, the LAG player will see that you’re playing good hands, which helps your own table image.
Similarly, you can push your draws much harder post-flop. You know you’re likely to get action with weak hands from a LAG player. When you do complete your draw, you’ll likely be rewarded for it. However, by taking a stab yourself, there’s always the chance that our maniac friend ditches whatever trash they are holding.
Act Weaker Than You Are
When you do get a great hand, trapping definitely comes into play. Feigning weakness is a great way to trick a LAG player. Think about how you might play a hand if you were uncertain, trying to find out where you are in a hand, or even bluffing. LAG players love weakness as it’s how they get away with bullying the table.
By pretending to be weak and simply calling them down, you can build a sizable pot before raising at the end. True maniacs don’t slow down, so you can be almost certain that they’ll fire on every street.
One of the most important traits a poker player can possess is self-awareness. Without understanding your own psychology, your game will never improve. Everyone has their own triggers that put them on tilt, and people respond to different situations in different ways. Knowing when you are on tilt against these LAG players will greatly help you in figuring out how to react against them.
Sometimes, the best strategy is to leave the table. Of course, in a tournament, that’s not an option. Even so, you can still be selective with your battles and attempt to avoid the aggressive player. In a cash game, however, there’s no need to risk stressing yourself out and needlessly spewing cash like an ATM. If you’re not in the right headspace, don’t be a hero. Take a break and walk away.
Now that you have learned the ways to counter aggressive players, what’s better than testing the methods out yourself? Sign up for a free account with Natural8 and test out what you have learned today.