Those of you who enjoy watching recordings of major live tournaments like WSOP, EPT, etc. are probably aware of the hyper-aggressive approach some of the players prefer over the traditional waiting game that big tournaments can often be. More often than not, the crazy moves of these players work out successfully. When these moves fail, these players simply do not care. They are playing for the win, for first place, right from the first hand dealt. It works for them and we are left wondering what has just happened.
This style of play, heavily influenced by hyper-aggressive poker players like Elky and perhaps taken a step further more recently by the likes of Spindler, is as remote as it can be from the old fashioned tight is right approach. You always see these players involved in big pots, often with very marginal hands, but they rely on power of their position, their reads and sometimes sheer aggression to move opponents out of their hands.
In theory, this should not work this well for them, at least in very basic theory. They always play marginal hands and are often up against the very strong hands of their opponents. Yet, they come out on top more often than not. But what these players have working heavily in their favor is their keen ability to sense weakness. And weakness is a relative term. You can have aces pre-flop, but how comfortable are you going to be calling a raise on the flop followed by two huge bets on the turn and river even if you know these guys can have anything? Sure they could have 73o pre-flop, but that also means that when the board comes K73 they can have two pair.
The simple truth is, people hate busting tournaments, especially amateur players. When put to a decision for all of their chips, or when facing someone they know is capable to play for the entire stack at any point, they will keep convincing themselves that they will find a better spot and let them have this one. And those medium-to-big sized pots add up and very often, unless they run into some huge hands, we see these players sitting with huge chip stacks.
There is no denying that this style of play is much more difficult than the tight approach where you basically play your cards and throw in the occasional bluff. But when implemented properly, it can also be more profitable. It will certainly lead to more early busts and fewer small cashes, but it will also put you in a great spot to win the entire thing more often. And big tournaments are all about the final table and the top three - four prizes.
Strategic aspects of this approach are far too complicated to fit into this article and I am probably not the best person to explain them either, so I’m not going to try that. But for those interested, I do recommend reading Kill Everyone, the book basically devoted to this style of play. It should help you understand and improve your aggressive play a lot. There are numerous other resources in the form of videos and articles, etc., as well, but this book would be a great start for anyone looking to up their overall aggression at the tables.
Until my next entry, run good!
Ivan Potocki is a veteran Titan Poker player who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and spent part of his childhood under war conditions. He studied English language and literature and discovered Texas Hold’em while in college. After working different jobs he turned to poker full time and this serves as his main source of income. You can follow him on Twitter: @ivanpotocki
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