Friday, February 18, 2005

Adapting to Others: Loose Aggressive

Wow, I continue to be amazed by the support we have gotten for this site. The first time I ever played poker, it was for entertainment. When I first started to play ‘serious’ poker about three years ago, I did it to have a positive expected value. Financially, I guess I was right. Poker could not become a big part of my life if I was continually losing money. However, like the rich man with no friends or family, a poker player that approaches the game with only money in mind is not complete. The reason I am apart of this blog is to add to the poker discussion as well as to meet new people and hear new ideas. So far my expectations have been exceeded and I am very excited about the future. Thanks for everyone’s support, comments, and emails.

This is the third player profile in the Heads up Doctrine. The loose aggressive player is the toughest player examined so far. However, one that is very beatable. Possibly more than the other profiles, the Loose Aggressive profile is more a theory than an actual player type. This is because most players can be loose but on different streets or with different hands. However, I firmly believe that if you understand the concepts in this post you can adjust to the nuances of any semi-Loose Aggressive player that you come across.

Name: Loose Aggressive

Playing Style: The Loose Aggressive player is probably the most fun player type on the heads up scene. This is the because of the amount of action he creates. On the button, this player loves to raise pre-flop up to 80 percent of the hands. He will then fire bullet after bullet if not bet into or raised. Sometimes this player will mix it up and check on the flop or turn but then make a huge bet on the river. Either way, playing against this player out of position is very hard because many times it is just a guess to see if your hand is good as this player could have anything at any time. Out of position, this player will call pre-flop raises with reckless abandon. He will also bet at any time, like first to act on the flop, or he will re-raise to put you to the test. Either way, with his raises and your raises, the average pot is usually larger than usual increasing pot odds, the temptation to bluff, and the temptation to call down a huge bet.
Strength: This player can quickly accumulate chips because of his aggression. This works for three reasons. One, his opponent might start to always think he is bluffing and then start to push marginal hands. Two, continually calling and firing bets can become very frustrating in heads up. Most players are not use to such an aggressive style and are not exactly sure the value of their hand when playing against him. All it takes is one unseen hand or a bad beat to go on tilt. Third, the variance when playing this type of player is much larger than with any other opponent. This can also make a good player go on tilt because while the Loose Aggressive player is probably comfortable with this variance, many other players are not.

Weakness: It requires great skill to continually call raises out of position with mediocre hands and expect to be a winning player. The loose aggressive player thinks nothing of calling a pre flop raise out of position with a hand like A3o. From previous posts I hope you know why this is a bad situation to be in. Therefore, this player will leak a lot of chips out of position. When he is on the button, he will continue to fire bullets. (A quick note: I realize I constantly use ‘he’ instead of ‘she’ or even ‘they.’ I also realize that many of the great heads up players out there are women. However, I’m simply too lazy or not smart enough to change it. If this offends you, please email the site and we will discuss it.) Continually firing bullets is a style that is very easy to trap. Most players realize pick up on this pattern and simply let this guy do their betting for them. Another weakness that this player might have is to slow play his monsters. Let us say this player raises with 44 on the button and hits a 4 on the flop. This player might check and try to induce the bluff. What this player doesn’t realize is that his prior aggression is what sets him up to rake in a big pot here and the correct move is to bet!

Plan of Attack: The “Your Game” posts are a solid way to beat this player, with a couple of adjustments. One the button, like the Loose Tight player, you want to narrow your pre-flop raising hands a little bit. The reason for this is that since this player calls too much, you want to make sure that when the money does go in pre-flop, you have the best hand. Also, you have to raise the pot pre-flop, min is simply not enough. On the flop, I recommend the strategies discussed in “Your Game.” Yes this player is aggressive but no one takes away your control on the button! When you are the button, you are the master of the hand. Of course if something is not working and he continually re-raises you on the flop, you can bet less often, but still you want to be the aggressor on the button. This is how you set up the knockout blow. Out of position you want to fold trash hands. There is absolutely no reason to call with junk here because you know you will probably be bluffed you out anyway. I recommend re-raising pot with TT-AA or AQ & AK. You can even do it with connected suitors but be prepared to bet pot on the flop regardless. If you hit on the flop with a lesser hand that you didn’t re-raise with, I recommend check raising with two exceptions. If you hit a hand like 2nd or third pair, I like to bet out. Don’t be predictable about it but it is just tough to know when your hand is good here and putting him to the test right off the bat is smart. Also, if you hit a monster hand like trips, I like to slow play. This is of course because he will probably do your betting for you.

Notes: The single most important thing about playing this type of player is having an adequate bankroll. You will be put in many hands where the only thing that gets you through is guts. If you are also worried about losing your small bankroll, you are playing against two opponents. Also, watch going on tilt. If you do lose a buy in or two, be prepared to walk away if you think you aren’t playing your ‘A’ game. Know this in advance and don’t be scared of losing. Other than that, have fun. This is a classic player to play against and one that you should beat most of the time. Be prepared to make adjustments and try not to be predictable.

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