Aggression and Changing Gears in Poker

The ideal time to pick up aggression is at a point in time that other players at the table will be caught off guard, and prone to fold marginal hands. This time usually occurs about half way through a poker tournament or an hour or two into a cash game session. This should be the point in time when you see how all of the players are playing, and you can effectively adjust your style to make it easier for you to make money. In cash games this time is something you will have to figure out for yourself and in tournaments it is easier to determine.

In poker tournaments the ideal time to change gears and play more pots is when the blinds increase and every player now has a lower effective working stack. This means that you are now shorter stack then before, but you still have plenty of room to play.

Between 30-50 big blinds is a really good time to pick up your aggression level in a poker tournament. This is an ideal time because you should have established a relatively solid image at the table, and you now have the opportunity to exploit other player’s weaknesses. The reason you play this way late in a poker tournament as opposed to early in a poker tournament is really simple. The reason is that the opportunity to grow your stack is very slim at the beginning of poker tournaments, and the opportunity should present itself to you a handful of times later in poker tournaments to build your stack. By changing gears and attacking all of the weak players when the blinds go up you will put yourself in a great spot to make a run in the tournament. Picking on the weak player or players at your table is always ideal for more reasons than one. The first reason to pick of weak players instead of strong players is because of how easy the weak players are to read. If you can see what your opponent is doing in pots at all times, you will have an easier time getting value for hands or taking them off their hands. Another reason for playing pots with weak opponents is if you play pots in position against weak opponents, and you pick on their blinds constantly, eventually they will stack off to you and you will most likely double up. The constant amount of pressure you should apply to the blinds as the later stages of poker tournaments approach is going to spring board you into the money. If you choose to not apply pressure to the blinds then you will not have a big enough stack too work with.

The difference between the players who can change gears and run over a table when it’s necessary, and the players who sit back and wait share one common aspect, but differ in one way. The common aspect is they both want to get all of their money in with the best hand, but they differ because the aggressive player could play a hand like 78 suited and flop a straight or two pair and easily win a big pot with little risk. The tight player will risk all of their chips every single time they get a big hand, and to be successful in poker tournament you cannot be one of those players. In the long run you will win far less if you approach poker tournaments with the idea of playing tight.

Changing gears is a part of every poker game and you will see it happen without a moment’s notice. One player could be sitting for 2-3 hours at a poker game then all of a sudden they are raising and three betting in almost every hand. When this happens you should identify that they either have started to make hands or they have changed gears. To identify this correctly will mean that you might take a big pot off of a weak player, but defining the situation incorrectly could get your stack picked off. When you use aggression you have to do it with caution and not be reckless all the time, just certain times. Only around the money bubble and when blinds get big is it truly necessary.