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AGGRESSION IN POKER IS KEY

Aggression In Poker Is Key
by John Reger

When is a great opening poker hand a bad hand? The answer is pretty simple. A great opening poker hand is a bad hand when you play it poorly, and I recently saw a shining example of that.

A couple of weeks ago I was in the poker room at Binion's, playing on a $3-$6 limit Texas Hold'em table with the framed pictures of the previous World Series of Poker main events on the wall to the left of me. It really is an incredible place, and if you ever get the chance I highly recommend playing there. The casino doesn't host the tournament anymore, but it has the pictures of all the winners when it did, and it is nice to see that piece of history.

I was watching the eight other players until the blind got around to me. You have the option when you sit down of posting the big blind right away and playing immediately or waiting until it comes to you. I was four hands away from the big blind, so I decided to watch the action.

A lot of players want to start playing right away and there probably isn't anything wrong with that, but I prefer to watch some hands and get a feel for the table before putting out any chips.

On the second hand I saw the guy with the button check his bet after three of the six previous players called the blind. The small blind called and the big blind raised. The other players who had previously called called again, except for the small blind who folded.

The flop came 5d, 8h, 6h. The players all checked to the button, who bet $3. The big blind called, and one of the three players folded.

The turn was a 10c. Again the players checked to the button, and he bet $6. The big blind raised another $6. That chased out the remaining two players and left only the button, who called the raise.

The flop was a Qs. The action was on the big blind, and he bet $6. The button called and turned over a pair of aces. The big blind flipped up a 4h and 7c for a straight and took the pot.

It was hard for me to believe what I saw. I couldn't believe the button had played that hand so poorly.

His first mistake was not raising on the opening bet. What two cards are better than a pair of aces? If you have the best hand, for God sakes, bet it. I would have probably raised on everything from a pair of 10s on up. I might not have the best hand with a pair of 10s, but chances are I am going to know where I stand with them. If someone comes over the top and re-raises me, I know that they have a pair as well. The possibility is there for someone with a better pair to check and try and slow play them, but I am getting to see a flop and maybe make a set.

And this knucklehead was on the button! If ever there was a perfect situation to raise, it would be then. But by being too timid, he let the big blind see the flop for free. If he had raised the blind, unless he was playing with an equally poor player, the big blind would have folded. One or two of the other three players might have stuck around to see the flop, but when it came up 5d, 8h, 6h, it probably couldn't have helped their hands and they would have folded.

But with the big blind flopping a straight, he is sitting with two worthless aces. It could have been a real disaster if he had gotten an ace on the turn. Now he is thinking that he has a superior hand and could have lost a lot of money.

Aggression in poker is key, and the big blind proved that by raising on the opening round with a worthless 4-7 off-suit. The big blind was as timid as a guy with 7-2 off-suit, and he got burned for it.

He busted out shortly thereafter, which wasn't a surprise. I just wondered if he learned anything from the experience.


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