How to Play More Aggressively & Win More in Poker

how to play poker more aggressively jonathan little

5 minutes

Last Updated: March 20, 2024

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The game of poker has changed a lot over time, and to win in today’s game, a tight and rigid style of play will not cut the mustard.

You need to learn how to ramp up your aggression and play power poker. This doesn’t mean you should be the maniac at the table, but if you pick your spots and know when to apply the pressure, you’ll pick up many pots that don’t “belong” to you.

In this article, I’ll give you three very straightforward and easy-to-implement tips on how to ramp up your aggression and win a lot of chips in tournaments, especially at lower stakes. So, without further ado, let’s dig straight into it.

1. Stop 3-Betting Only With Best Hands

Many players only 3-bet with the top of their range, making them very predictable and easy to play against. You need to move away from that approach and start adding some 3-bet bluffs into the mix.

Let’s look at the chart of poker hands that you should be 3-betting as a button facing a hijack raise. Of course, all the good hands you would expect are on there, but there are also quite a few that aren’t in that top-tier section.

playing poker more aggressively

Hands like suited aces and kings, for example, are good 3-bet bluffing candidates for a very simple reason. They are what we call blockers, as the fact you hold one of these cards reduces the chances of your opponent holding a premium.

Suited connectors have very good playability after the flop, so when your 3-bets do get called, you’ll hit some very good flops and, depending on how your opponents perceive you, win some large pots, as they won’t think that you have a hand like T9s after 3-betting preflop.

The same logic applies when you’re in the big blind and facing a button raise. You want to have some weaker hands in your 3-betting range (such as small suited aces), allowing you to pick up some pots before the flop and also making you harder to play against after the flop.

2. Bluff More Post-Flop

Another way to increase your aggression in poker is by bluffing more in favorable spots postflop. You can figure out many different such spots by using a GTO solver, but in this article, I’ll quickly discuss two very common situations.

The first one is continuation betting. Recently, the tendency by the players has been to c-bet less frequently, as that’s the GTO approach. However, if you know your opponent doesn’t defend enough against continuation bets, you need to exploit that leak by increasing your frequency.

The second way in which you can increase your aggression after the flop is by bluffing more often when the board texture changes significantly on turns and rivers, significantly reducing the value of hands that were good hands on the flop.

I’ll try to explain this a bit more with an example.

You open with Q10 and the flop comes 984. This is a spot where we want to c-bet pretty much all the time unless you have a reason to believe that the particular opponent you’re up against will raise often.

With a c-bet, you can get them to fold a lot of ace and king-highs and some under-pairs. If they do call, you can still continue on many different turns and put a lot of pressure on them.

The turn comes K, and the nine, which was the top pair on the flop, now becomes substantially worse.

play more aggressive poker

Many hands that the opponent may have called on the flop have just become a lot worse, like a pair of 9s or a pair of 8s, and this is where you want to keep betting with pretty much everything you bet on the flop with.

We will use a large bet sizing, which we’ll do with all of our best hands and all the bluffs we choose to continue with.

What many players will do in these scenarios is check bet the flop and the turn, and only bet out on the river, making it very easy for the opponent to call with anything reasonable.

By betting multiple streets, you’ll put a lot of pressure on them, especially if you’re deep in a tournament and they don’t want to risk busting out – which brings us to the third tip.

3. Ramp Up Aggression Deep in Tournaments

Most players are afraid to bust tournaments and way too passive when the stakes and the pressure are at their highest, especially in lower buy-in events. Consequently, you want to increase your aggression in these situations.

There are many different ways you can do this, but these are my favorite three:

  • Re-jam more often on short stacks – attack short stacks raises and shove over their opens as most people don’t find enough calls with hands like AT or pocket sixes. They’ll fold and wait for a better spot, not realizing this better spot may not come around.
  • 3-bet small often – when somewhat deeper stacked, don’t be afraid to 3-bet more often and make it smaller sizing, like 5x over a 2x open. Even though your opponents will call more, they’ll check and give up on the flop often enough to make this a viable strategy.
  • Open raise wider & c-bet more often – if you normally raise 20%, ramp it up to 25% or 30% against straightforward opponents. Use hands containing blockers to widen your range and c-bet after the flop more often as many players know they need to call pre but then just give up too often when they don’t connect well enough.

At the end of the day, you’ll end up going broke in most poker tournaments – that’s the nature of the game, and there is no going around it.

However, the way to put yourself in a position to win any given tournament is by constantly chipping up and building your stack instead of focusing on getting it in well after blinding out.

Don’t be afraid to play smart, aggressive poker and put pressure on your opponents. If you adopt and practice this style, you will build a big stack much more often and be in a position to win more tournaments instead of barely making it past the bubble with a few blinds, hoping for a good run of cards.

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