This is the second part of our series on No Limit Hold Em Strategy, and in this post we’ll take a look at the first poker playing style we want to master at the tables…tight aggressive.  Of all the playing styles new players should try to emulate, this is the one.  The reasons are numerous, but the advantages clear. 

So what does being tight aggressive mean?  It means we are selective with our starting hands, but once we make the decision to enter the pot we play it aggressively.  Let’s break that down a little further.

Tight hand selection doesn’t necessarily mean we are restricted to playing top 10% of the holdem starting hands.  Whilst we will of course play with those hands, limiting our selection entirely can obviously lead to predictability.  Similarly, whilst we do want our opponents to assume we have strong hands as part of our tight image, it doesn’t hurt to mix up our play, and so the occasional low suited connector or gapper should also be considered handy real estate to enter a pot.

The aggressive part is pretty simple, it means entering the pot with a bet or a raise instead of a limp or flat call.  It’s important to combine aggression with well timed pot control.  We want opponents to respect our hand and fear our bet, but at the same time blazing away at the pot with unthinking abandon is apt to see us trapped when our opponents hit a monster. 

The fact is this style of play works on a simple premise.  Bet with strong hands, fold the weak.  It’s only when people look to deviate too much from that core idea that problems can arise. 

By betting with our strong hands, we achieve the dual goals of protecting our hand from would be limpers looking to score a hit with speculative hands, and juicing the pot.  If we have a strong hand, we want anyone else who comes into the pot to pay for the privilege, particularly post flop when they may be drawing to a hand.  By betting strongly, we give them bad poker pot odds to continue, and make them pay when they stick around and miss their hand.

It’s an effective starting strategy to then move forward from, and a style that with some discipline, all players should be able to master.

In the next part of this series, we’ll be looking at preflop poker strategy.

Click the links below for other parts of the series.

1. Bankroll Management

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