Playing Tight Aggressive Poker - The basic concept
When you start playing Poker, it is important that you learn how to develop a solid Poker playing foundation, and while there are many different ways to play, the one we would recommend you adapt is that of the tight aggressive style (TAG Poker). No matter what you may read or have been told, this is the way to go especially in the lower stakes where players play far more predictably.
Many new players start out thinking that because Johnny Chan did X move and Doyle Brunson came back with Y move then they too can pull off loose crazy plays. What you need to remember is, firstly, the Poker that you see on TV is carefully edited to give the viewers action. You don't get to see hours and hours of fold, fold, fold and why would you? It's just boring. I'd rather suck my eye balls out through a straw than watch an eighty year old man sit and fold for five hours. Secondly and most importantly is the fact that these players think about the game and situations that present themselves in a totally different light to a low stakes beginner. They have years of experience and played hundreds of thousands of hands. Trust me, you can nearly never bluff or pull of insane moves and still make money at the lowest stake games.
If you are serious about developing a Poker playing style that is tight and aggressive, you should avoid some of the habits of weak players. One of these is calling. Calling is one of the weakest plays in poker and something that I see the "fish" do all of the time. Think about the logic? New players think that if you limp with a hand like 33, you get the chance to see a cheap flop and then win big if you hit a set. While there is a logic to that thought process, limping in and calling (even if you are tight) is at best a tight / passive style and that's not where we want to be. What would a TAG player do? Raise! "Raise" I hear you cry? "But what if I get called and don't hit my set?" Good question lets quickly think about it. Not hitting your set will in fact happen most of the time but that's not why we raise. Firstly we raise to pick up the pot there and then (which will happen a lot), and we raise to disguise our hands which makes us harder to play against. If you raise to 3.5 times the blind, every time you play a hand, people will not know if you have AA, AK, JJ or 22 and thus be more likely to make a mistake against you. Secondly when you raise and do hit a set, it is much easier to build a big pot and lastly if you raise in position and your opponent who flat calls checks the flop, you make a 2/3 pot continuation bet and pick the pot up there and then. You give yourself so many extra ways to win the pot that you will be printing money compared to weak, passive players, who limp in, call raises and fold when they miss. By contrast, those players who are too passive and meek are never able to get a lot of the big pots because of their hesitation to raise even with a good hand.
Another advantage of a playing a TAG style that relies on aggression is that your opponent will hesitate to call, and thus give you the pot quickly. Passive opponents will also fold more quickly to a raise, and this will save you the trouble of seeing the turn give your opponent a chance to get lucky on the draw. This is the mistake that a lot of passive players make. They think that by holding back, keeping pots small, through calling they will be able to fend off giving up all of their money. The fact is that in Poker, the more aggressive you are (with the proper hands of course and in the right positions), the quicker you will get your opponent to drop and thus hand you their chips.
As you can see there are more ways that you can win by adapting a more tight and aggressive style of play. This may seem risky and uncomfortable for some newer players, but the fact is that in the long run, it will not only increase your confidence and winnings but also improve your skills.
It will also project a table image that will make you even tougher to beat and most of all it will grow your bank roll much faster ..
For more articles / help on improving your poker game, go to my blog and see how I've helped others improve their game
Good luck at the tables.