On Aggression

And here’s another hand from the same game:

77 on the Button. It’s 3-up, and I only have the small stack, 5200 chips. I get dealt 77.

Lots of players in this situation would shove the 77 pre, and either take the blinds, or get called by a dominant pocket pair or two overcards. I think 77 is a marvelous hand, but I don’t want to go all-in on it. I don’t want to over-commit preflop, so I decide to limp and set mine.

Fortunately, my mine hits on the very first card of the flop, and now I’m looking to exploit for value. flop is 7hKd3h, which means a possible heart flush, and I am trying to thread the needle between value betting for a call, and making it too cheap to see another card. I put in a pot-size bet, it gets a call from what I presume must have been a King, or maybe just the hearts draw that I’m fearing.

The Turn is a 4s, and I like this because it’s not a heart, and it’s not a card likely to hit my villain’s range. If they have K4, so much the better, this means they’re more likely to call. I put out another 1200 chip bet, and get a call.

River is a 2s, so unless my opponent held A5, I think I’m safe from most anything they’re likely holding here.

They check to me, I bet again, 1200 chips, half my remaining stack; opponent folds; I’m thinking it must have been a hearts draw, then. They didn’t show, so there’s really no telling, but that feels like the most likely. I show, just to let them know I’m credible for my future bets.

Was the river bet a good size? I wonder if they would have called a min-bet, but if they missed a flush and didn’t have anything, probably not. If they had K-something, I’m thinking they likely call the 1200 chip river bet. Either way, I was very happy with taking down a 6000 chip pot here, but more is always nicer. What I liked about this hand was I didn’t put out too much risk until I had something, and once I had hit my hand, I controlled the pot and put out bets that were a good size for my opponent to call. Would I think the same if they’d hit their flush and KO’d me? Er… well… no. So, was this a hand well played for me, or no? SPG?


Here’s a hand I misplayed where aggression could have helped me.

I’m AJo in the SB. We’re 6-seated, been at it a while but few players have busted out an everyone is pretty healthy, but I have one the the bigger stacks at the table, and I want to be cautious so as to not over-commit to a big pot and lose a lot of chips. Which is exactly what I’m about to do.

Blinds are creeping up, 150/300 already, and the Button raises. I just flat, and the BB folds, CO calls, we’re 3 to the flop.

A92. I am liking it, but I’m sensing an Ace is out there, and I’m not sure if the J kicker is good or not, and I’m also worried about betting into 2 pair.

I bet 900 into a 2100 pot, and get a call and a shove. @#$@.

Well, now I have to decide. I was worried my Jack might not be good, and here I am with some strong evidence that whoever’s calling has an Ace and think’s they’re good with their holding. I think about it, and decide that my 900 bet just wasn’t telling them the right story. Yeah, that’s it. I think, they’re betting like this not because they’re strong, but because their Ace is weak.

I call. Now there’s so many chips in the pot, the odds are impossible for the CO to fold here, if they have any type of draw hand here, and they call. They’ve got 78s, four spades.

I see the Button is on ATo, and feel relief, but then the river brings a 5th space, and I’m devastated, left with just 1750 chips.

If I’d jammed pre, or even just raised a serious raise, I probably take down the hand, folding out the 78s and maybe getting the call from ATo, in which case I KO and go way up and probably win the whole table.

Miraculously, I mounted a quick comeback and managed to sneak into the bubble, and eventually got heads-up, but didn’t get the cards I needed to prevail, busting in 3 hands where I coulda had something, if only.


I have to point out that “feeling annoyed” probably isn’t the best reason to do stuff.

Maybe you should spend more time thinking about how your opponent is playing and less time thinking about all those hands you played in the past. To me, this seems to be a case of your negative reinforcement causing you to project your past experiences onto him.

Bets make a statement, lines tell a story. His line is exactly what I would expect if he had a pocket pair.

Someone with an overpair wouldn’t be thinking that way. They have 2 pair and would bet to protect it against 2 overs, a flush draw, or even a straight draw. It’s reasonable to assume he would think the same of you. This means your story made no sense. Why would you check an overpair on that flop?

So why did he call your turn bet? Well, he called preflop, probably thinking his KQ was ahead of a lot of your range. Your flop check/call made a pocket pair seem less likely. If he was ahead on the flop, the turn probably changed nothing, so he thought he was still ahead. Your line made no sense, your turn bet looked like the bluff it was. He called because he thought he was ahead.

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You need to open this hand for a raise, I would have open shoved as the shortest stack with 11 bb’s. After limping I think you should consider 3! shove all in pre flop over the sb’s open. As played you can’t fold on the flop so well played there. Just consider this though @puggywug, you had two opportunities to take an aggressive action in this hand with the best of it as a 60/40 favorite to which you declined. When most of the chips went into the pot on the flop you were calling off your tournament as a 45/55 dog although you were getting the right price you were behind.

This hand with AK is fine. You could shove too but min open is fine, you’re never folding.

mandatory shove with K8 blind on blind when you have less than 10 bb’s and are out of position. K8o has the big blinds range crushed.

This is another spot you should be shoving all in pre. 77 limping on the btn off of 13 bb’s is not good. You’re not going to be happy with most flops as you will see a ton of overs.

As you stated in the opening sentence of this post, yeah aggression with AJ in the sb over limpers. You could have got it all in pre flop vs AT over here dominated.

Cheers bud!


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Not that everyone on this forum gives sound advice, but I’ve had a lot of people tell me not to play hands like ATo “because it’s garbage.” I don’t believe that personally, but I do feel a bit vulnerable when my Ace’s kicker isn’t Q+.

You’re saying I should have raised. Which is fair; I guess then I should not think of A8o as “garbage” in at this stage of the game?

I can appreciate that as fewer and fewer players remain at the table, what’s considered a “good” opening range widens, because the odds of one of the other players having better cards than you decreases with each player that has been knocked out.

So I guess I can adjust my open range then. Which, I do – I played A8o here, where I would have just folded it earlier in the tournament. 7-8 handed, with blinds at 50/100, I would rather wait on better cards. What’s your opinion on that?

But offsetting my wider range when the game is short-handed is the size of the blinds. I don’t want to put too much in, and then not be able to drop the hand. If I don’t hit here, I don’t want to feel committed to the pot.

But maybe by not raising, better players will exploit me here; maybe if I don’t play at tables where mostly everyone limps, I will end up getting raised off of playable hands because I don’t open with them, and am too passive.

A major theme of this thread is that when I open, I end up regretting it; I miss, I end up check/folding or c-bet/folding, and it’s too costly to be wrong more than once. If I could c-bet effectively, I’d raise more. But a while ago, suddenly c-betting all but stopped working for me, and I got creamed trying to do it. MFers were calling me with bottom pair, rag pairs and taking 3/4 of my stack because I couldn’t get them to lay down, even with an obvious straight draw on the board and me betting like I had hit it. So I had to change tactics, and all but quit bluffing at flops that I missed, except once in a great while, when I really couldn’t stand to lose the pot, and didn’t mind getting knocked out if it came to it.

Since then, I’ve been 40-50% ITM week after week. So it seems to be working very well for me.

Maybe I could be doing even better if I came back to opening more and c-betting more, now.

You’re right that I did’t think calling that shove with just a flush draw and nothing made yet wasn’t a good situation to be in. It worked out but better than 3/5 of the time, it wouldn’t have.

When I’m heads-up, at the end of a SNG or MTT, I find that shoving monster hands from the big sack has the effect of wasting them. Players get out of the way, and you tend to get minimal value for them. I didn’t want to steal blinds with AK, I wanted to win the game with it.

Of course, AK turns into @#%@ about half the time, but even when it does, heads-up your opponent may not hit anyting half the time either. But shoving heads-up, mostly the small stack is folding unless they have a pocket pair, and that’s what AK is most vulnerable to.

Smaller betting was safer, or at least it felt that way to me. I could get away from the hand if the flop was an absolute disaster. Being an OESD was pretty much a disaster, too, since chasing those with a huge pot on the line is not ideal.

In situations like this, I feel like I’m slightly better than a coin flip, and resign myself to whatever the river runs out to. I seem to do OK, but I don’t like to win a game this way; this was just a gamble. Most of my wins come from me hitting a board solidly, and then sucking my opponent all-in, or through attrition of steady pressure from many raises wearing the small stack down to nothing.

How are you able to determine what my opponent’s range is, for a given situation? I hear people talking about this all the time and I have little understanding of how players determine this.

I sure did think about it, but again I didn’t want to overcommit and lose here, and I didn’t want to merely steal blinds. I felt caution and winning a bigger pot than I could get by shoving pre would be smarter. There are definitely situations where I’ll shove a pair; it wasn’t quite to that point for me here. If I did shove – pre, on the flop, I’m shutting the hand down, most likely, and getting only a little for it, albeit at less risk, unless of course I get called, in which case most likely it’s by something that crushes me, and puts me at maximum risk. In this specific hand, as it ran out, I’m looking like the winner, so I would have felt like a very lucky gamble if I’d hit 777 and beat KKx, and doubled up, but I don’t mind the 6000 chips that I did win with a more cautious play.

Thanks for the feedback! It gives me some things to think about. As I get more comfortable re-introducing aggression into my game, this will help.

No argument there; I’m just being honest, telling it like it is. My emotional state does affect how I play, and I’m not one to embellish a story to try to make me seem like a poker god with psychic powers. In this hand, being slightly tilted induced me to make a decision that ended up working out for me in the end; it might not have been a solid decision based on a lot of other things.

We learn based on our experiences; our memory is how we are able to tell stories. If bets are telling a story, I’m able to read them based on how I’ve learned from my previous experiences.

You’re right, though, his play was perfectly consistent with a pocket pair.

Why didn’t I put him on a pocket pair? Because I’ve been bet off of missed flops a million times by the last to act in the hand, and I’ve done it myself a million times. I might have been wrong (but I wasn’t) but this just seemed to me like yet another one of those times. It felt too that he would have been more likely to 3! me pre-flop with a pocket pair. My open to 220 was 5.5BB, from middle position, if he’s on a big pair, he’s crushing the table, he should be 3! to make it 800 or so.

He’s a good player, so no, I didn’t put him on a pocket pair. I couldn’t rule it out, either, but that’s where the tilt factor came in; even if I’m losing this hand, I’m just annoyed enough at this “always” happening to me with AK that this time I want to see the cards that beat me if I’m beat. In the moment, I’m feeling like I’m always playing too soft, folding too easy, and this time I decide that I’ve had enough of that and I want to push it. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong, so be it. I’ve made big, dumb costly errors due to tilt more often than I’ve made big dumb errors that worked out, for sure, so I’m glad this time it worked out.

But I still say it was the hunch that I was being position-bluffed more than the tilt that made the decision a good call. But I freely admit that both factors were involved in the play, if I’m being honest with myself.

Yeah, you’re probably right about that. My own story not making sense probably helped me get the call, and won me a lot more chips. This goes again into the “bad play can disrupt good play” thing that I discovered months ago when I was just starting to get something of an idea of what “good play” is. At lower stakes I’d get frustrated by “idiot” players either not reading my bets properly, or else just doing off the wall bizarre things that made no sense, and not knowing how to play back at them. They’re more frustrating to deal with than someone who plays in a way I can understand because their decisions seem like rational ones. So – not that it’s a great strategy for all-purpose poker – sometimes making a crazy play that catches an opponent off-guard and induces them to make a mistake is useful.

The easiest way is to keep a running hand count, at least approximately. As an extreme example, someone opening 100% of the time can only be doing this with any 2 cards.

So, in general, someone opening 20% of his hands is probably opening the top 20% of hands. There are exceptions, of course. For example, Doyle Brunson has 10-2 in his range even if his hand count would suggest otherwise. People often have favorite hands, but we don’t usually have enough in depth info to know what these might be, and some players will mix a few “random” hands into their ranges to male it harder for their opponents.

Ideally, we could keep hand counts by position and situation, but this isn’t really practical “in the moment.” I keep a rough running hand count as part of the bigger picture. I expect someone to be opening the top end of their range in early position, and their whole range from late, for example. This will be further modified by chip count, tournament stage, table images, and so on.

Those who can and do switch gears can exploit this. If I am opening 30% in the early stages, then switch to an uber tight 5% range, it creates a “transition” where people think I am still playing wide. It will take awhile for them to realize I have switched gears. These transitions can be very profitable.

Still, the “base” range I assign a player depends mostly on how many hands they have been playing.


Here, play around with this and you will get a good idea of what sort of ranges match what sorts of hand counts…


So, “what’s my opponent’s limp range?” can be answered by knowing how often they limp.

Their open range is tied to how often they open.

Their 3 bet range depends on how often they 3 bet, and so on.

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By the way, the line you ran on the AK hand is a condensed version of a line I call the “crazy chicken.” It usually goes: open or 3!, c-bet the flop, check or check/call the turn, then big bet or jam the river.

This line can be effective because it doesn’t tell a convincing story. The c-bet means nothing, the check or check call looks weak, and the big bet on the end looks like a desperation bluff. Actually, you are telling a story with this line, but it’s a story of weakness, not strength.

This isn’t something you should do a lot, but it works great when used in moderation and against a specific player type.

Edited to add:

Now i suggested this line in another thread and was told I was missing value by sacrificing the turn like that. I don’t agree, On that hand, let’s look at the crazy chicken vs the line taken, which was half pot, half pot, half pot.

Let’s say we get to the turn with 1000 in the pot to simplify the math. It’s checked to V, who bets 500 and gets called, total pot now 2000. He bets 1000 on the river and gets called, total pot 4000.

So if he gets checked to on the turn and checks behind, total pot at the river is only 1000. But this player specifically has been known to overbet the pot in this situation. He said he would put in a big bet on the river, and I have seen him overbet 2.5X the pot. But let’s say he only bets 2x the pot. If i just call, that’s a 5k pot, which means I lost no value.

But I wouldn’t just call, I would raise. Now this player says he folds to any raise there, but I don’t think that’s true. Maybe he mostly folds, but he calls there more than he cares to admit, LOL.

Anyway, if he does fold, I have not only won a bigger pot, I have denied him any information on what I was playing. True, it won’t always work out, and I’m giving him a free card on the turn, which has some risk, but that’s also what sells the story.

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Raise KJo pre, flop a straight draw, bet it lightly, get shoved on, -500 chips:


Raise KJs, flop top pair, big stack bets big, I shove, run it right into AA:


These hands you keep posting ARE typical. They’re typical for every player though. The same stuff happens to everyone. Sometimes the other player has a better hand. Sometimes they draw out on you. You need to get over thinking that the cards are somehow treating you differently from how they treat everyone else.

If you want to become a better player, post hands where you weren’t sure what to do. Whining here about how unlucky you are is not helping you.

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I know that.

My point is that every time I raise these hands, I lose.

When I get the same cards, and limp them… I don’t lose.

Or maybe I lose, but it’s an inconsequential amount of chips, so it doesn’t bother me.

And when I win when I limp, I generally win smaller pots.

Every big pot I play, I take a beating.

Why isn’t 50-50? If it was 50-50, I truly wouldn’t care, and I wouldn’t say anything about it. I’d think that’s just how the game runs, and I’d accept it.

Why is it 90% of my big hands are disasters for me?

Do you really want to know the answer, or do you just want us to commiserate with you?

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If aggro was a tool, it would be a hammer. Hammers are great for pounding stuff.

If you have to drive a screw, use a screwdriver. “Hulk use hammer!” won’t work.

If you have to cut glass, use a glass cutter. “Hulk use hammer!” won’t work.

If you have to trim a board to length, use a saw. “Hulk use hammer!” won’t work.

None of this makes the hammer a bad tool. You can’t just pound everything.

I really want to know.

OK great. Clearly there is something going wrong with your play when you get in a raised pot. When you’re posting here you need to do it in a way that sets you up to get help. Right now you come across like you’re just venting.

Step 1 to fixing this is to stop focusing on the results of your hands and instead focus on your decision-making process. This applies both when you play and when you post here.

When you play, if you look back on a hand try to ignore what your opponent actually had. Look at whether you made the right decision at the time based on the information you had at the time.

When you post here, stop posting the link to the hand. Instead write a hand history and then stop at the key decision point. Don’t tell us what your opponent had. Don’t tell us the outcome. Don’t post the link. That way you can see how other players here think about that spot with the information that you had at the time of the hand.

Does this all make sense?


wink wink

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Did you ever think Puggy, its how you’re playing post flop action ??
What eventually happens is you stop playing good cards , when they never hit. Or you become jaded they wont hit. Either way, it can cripple you.

Without the right table image, player image, chipstack, or bankroll… Its difficult to get ppl to fold, when you “come in” then didnt hit what you had. Once a person gets a label, like “whiner”, “folder” or even “bingo player”, its hard to change those labels people have given you.

Personally Puggy, I’ve watched u play a bit, and read alot of your posts. I finally gave up reading and have catagorized the type of player you are. No doubt you know about poker, and are decent @ playing… but… you’ve hit a wall, in your mindset , that untill you change it, you prolly won’t advance… and right now its even setting you back some.

(on agression) - playing the “better” or “leader” ( in a hand, well ) , whatever ya wanna call it, is yet another skillset. It does depend on factors other than just your cards.

( hard truth ) - I like ya puggy, you’re a decent player, but evey word you write, about how you look @ poker things…well, to me , adds that much more to the story “Puggywug” that we keep reading. Sometimes perception trumps reality.