Aggression is the core of poker strategy. Passive players rely entirely on luck, waiting for a strong enough hand to win at the showdown. Aggressive players can take control of the pot, even winning without a premium hand.
Even knowing how important it is to be aggressive, it’s easier said than done. Many newer poker players struggle with being aggressive, scared that taking risks might cost them money.
This poker guide will give you three tried-and-tested poker techniques to become a proactive player. Every great player uses them, forming the core of the intermediate strategy.
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Continuation betting, explained
Continuation betting, also known as c-betting, is one of the oldest aggressive techniques in poker. It happens when the player who made the last aggressive action pre-flop bets again on the turn. That player, known as the pre-flop aggressor, is “continuing” their aggression on the flop by betting again.
Pros and cons of c-betting
C-betting is a fantastic technique in poker for several reasons. By continuing your aggression onto the flop, you’re signaling that your strong pre-flop hand also hit the flop, intimidating your opponents. This makes c-betting a very aggressive move that doesn’t require you to make a huge bet.
The aggression a c-bet displays can let you win the pot outright, especially since it capitalizes on the chance for your opponents to miss the flop. Many players might just fold to anything if their drawing hand misses, so a c-bet is the perfect way to take advantage of that.
The primary downside of a c-bet is how widespread and well-known the technique is. Many experienced players are unfazed by it and will increase their continuation bet calling range if you overuse it. This turns c-bets into a fifty-fifty, where you can use them as either value bets or bluffs depending on how your opponent likes to respond to them.
3-betting is a technique in poker that involves re-raising someone else’s raise. It gets its name because it is the third bet in the sequence. For example, Player A bets, Player B raises, then Player C re-raises B’s raise, making a “3-bet”.
This is an incredibly aggressive technique that is often used pre-flop. While a 3-bet requires you to commit a lot of money, the risk far outweighs the reward when appropriately used.
Against tight players, 3-bets can be enough to win the pot outright, making them a valuable tool in your arsenal. Against looser players, 3-bets still work well to massively grow the pot if you have a premium hand.
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Pros and cons of 3-betting
3-betting’s biggest strength is its aggression. It can outweigh even continuation bets because most players would only 3-bet with a premium hand. It takes a lot to call a 3-bet, so they can be an easy way to take down a pot.
3-bets put a lot of pressure on your opponent, mainly since they can be used for both bluffs or value, deciding to call even harder. They’re a great way to build the pot and take control of it, making them essential pre-flop where pot control is everything.
The biggest downside to 3-betting is the risk they carry. Executing a good 3-bet can be harder than deciding how to respond to one, and if you fail, you’ll have wasted a lot of money. Good 3-bets are used sparingly, and knowing the right time to use them takes practice.
Check-raising is one of the most infamous techniques in poker. It’s a deceptive play where a player in early position checks, waits for someone to bet, then raises that bet when the action comes back to them. The initial check lures players into a false sense of security, and the raise returns to “trap” their bet in the pot. Check-raising is often looked down upon for its tricky nature, but it’s an absolute essential to know.
Pros and cons of check-raising
Without check-raising, you have very few options from an early position. When you check from an early position and your opponent bets, you either fold to it or have to call and act out of position. Check-raising adds a whole new option, allowing you to pressure your opponent even from an early position.
Check-raising circumvents your positional disadvantage and is a fantastic way to catch bluffs. By checking, you can wait for your opponent to act and raise after them, effectively eliminating the weakness of playing from an early position.
The one downside of check-raising is that it relies on your opponents’ betting. You should avoid it when you know the other player isn’t likely to bet after you check, like if they’re a passive player or have a drawing hand. This also means you should avoid overusing check-raises since they’re straightforward to counter if the opponent catches on.
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Practice all these techniques online!
Now that you have an overview of the three most critical aggressive techniques in poker, we hope you can start implementing them in your games! They take a lot of practice to pull off successfully, so we recommend playing online poker.
Online gives you a faster pace, allowing you to learn quicker. It’s also much easier on your bankroll, offering many low-stakes games, promotional offers, and signup bonuses.