Thursday, October 25, 2007

More Aggression.

One thought I've had this week is to relax more when I raise.

I don't need to pretend that I have a big pair every single time I push chips towards the middle.

Instead lets think of raising as a guessing game.

I just raised you preflop. You've seen me raise X% of my hands.

Do I have anything?

In the past I've probably worried too much about what my opponents think.

Almost like I'm sitting there trying to convince the table that I must have a big pair because I raised. It feels too serious. Too focused. And since I'm not raising enough preflop it becomes way too big of a deal when I do raise.

I blame this on my mainly playing tournaments for the first couple years of poker. As the blinds climb late in those tournaments it's often all in or fold. So there isn't too much speculating with suited connectors and small pairs. You're committed to a hand or you aren't.

But in cash poker the blinds never go up. This makes two things true:

1- You can tighten up. Blinds are never going up. Fold till you find something.

2- You can loosen up. Many more hands become playable. Raise and see what happens.

This week I tried to raise more and see what happened.

If I'm in there raising 3 out of every 10 hands then OBVIOUSLY I don't have a big pair each time. The big difference was granting myself permission. I didn't sit there and pretend I had a big pair. Regardless of if I did.

And that's why I'm reframing raising as a guessing game. If raising is not a guessing game then I become too easy for my opponent to read.

One way I've created a guessing game in the past is simply to always limp or call preflop. This also disguises my hand. It's great for trapping but the obvious drawback is that I'm giving my opponent the ability to control the betting of the hand. It also forces me to make some real tough calls or folds. Not fun. Better to be the aggressor.

At this point I'd much prefer to wear a t-shirt or carry a megaphone that announces to the table that I'm going to raise more hands than a player should.

I want them to know my starting hand requirements aren't tight enough. I want them to give me action. This is how I can make money.

And if my opponents aren't sure if I have 5,6 suited or ace king then they have no clue where they stand on the flop.

Anything is possible.

Bringing more aggression to my game has been a gradual process. Constant adjustments. I'm too tight. I'm too loose. Combine this with the fact that the game is always changing. The players we sit with. The books they read. The moods they're in. The cards we're dealt.

Feel seems to be the greatest skill in poker.

1 comment:

surflexus said...

Good post! It's nice to read something that strikes close to home and you know you can take something away from it that is going to help your game.