How To Play Against An Agressive Opponent In Poker

“I thought a True Grinder was aggressive by nature, so why would I worry about aggressive opponents?” First of all, a True Grinder uses SELECTIVE AGRESSION when playing smart poker. Aggression for aggressions sake is a recipe for disaster and a TG already knows this. Being able to not only switch gears to maximize your earnings but to exploit the weakness of another player (in this case, an aggressive one) are the hallmarks of the best TG's. Playing poker against agressive players is a real test for true grinders, but if you implement some basic techniques you can use their agressive strategy against them.

There are many types of players (passive, aggressive, tight, loose, etc) and learning how to adapt your playing style to beat these types of players is paramount. Each type of player presents a very specific set of challenges; how you adjust your game is the important part. In the case of aggressive players, it's actually quite simple to make the required changes to your game. For the benefit of any new players reading this, an aggressive player is one that demonstrates the following characteristics:

- Raises many pots pre flop from any position

- Almost always continuation bets (C-Bets) after raising a pot pre flop

- Often check-raises

- Will three and four bet in some situations

Let's cover these areas and what are the best agressive strategies to respond with in these situations. Remember there are many other traits of an aggressive player for the purposes of this article; we'll dive into just these areas.

Agressive Players Raise Like It's Going Out Of Style

The simple way to combat this move is to wait for a premium starting hand and react accordingly. If the player has raised before the action reaches you, there's two options here: Re-raise right now or smooth call and raise him on the flop (assuming he continuation bets). The latter requires you to have a good feel for the range of hands he's playing so if you're not comfortable with post-flop play, go ahead and pop it up with a raise before the flop. If he's going to act after you, simply calling the blind here may work. If he chooses to raise now, you'll want to go ahead and three bet here pre-flop. The other option is to smooth call his raise but again, you need to be comfortable with post-flop play against this player for this to work.

Agressive Poker Players And Continuation Bets

To expand on the concept above, if and agressive player tends to c-bet on a regular basis, the way to stop that is to check-raise him if he's acting after you or hit him with a big raise when he bets in front of you. Pretty simple concept but exercise common sense, if he's willing to four bet here and put all of his money in the pot you'd better have a premium hand to have a chance of winning.

Agressive Poker Players Often Check Raise Their Opponents

If the agressive player is check-raising most pots, you'll want to be patient and wait on a decent hand before you play back at them. If you buy into Daniel Negreanu's “small ball” concept, you can always check behind and see a free card or check call him down to keep the pots small with these types of players.

3 And 4 Bets From Agressive Players

Again, the best response to this type of player is usually the small ball approach. Check call and check down whenever possible to avoid losing big pots. When you feel that you've got the nuts in any given hand, go ahead and put him all in. Making a player like this make a decision for all or most of his chips will often stop the three and four betting antics.

Agressive Players Become Predictable

What if someone offered you a crystal ball to use while playing poker, you would probably cream in your pants right? While we all know this is impossible, agressive players actually come closer to this than you think. It's no secret that agressive players tend to bully the table around with their crazy raises, so common sense tells us that the odds say he is going to raise when the betting comes around to him.

This is where you have these players by the balls. Most agressive players think they are playing great poker with their king kong antics and picking up the penny ante's, but this isn't where the real money is. As a matter of fact even if an agressive player has been stealing the blinds for the past hour, you can get it all back very quickly if your smart when your holding the premium hands.

Because agressive players are predictable, more often than not we know their next move which offers us a huge advantage at the tables. For example if your dealt a monster hand preflop and the agressive player is behind you, then limping in here would be a great play since the odds are he is going to raise, then you can come over the top grinder styles and see how much the donk really likes his hand.


The overlaying concept here is patience. These types of players will often make very bad decisions because they feel that they can run over the table. Waiting for your spot (a big hand or big draw) and raising big (thereby putting them to a big decision) is a great way to slow them down. If you're unsure of where you are in a hand, try the small ball approach. Until you get a good read on these types of players and feel good playing post flop against them, play conservative and avoid big confrontations. While it's tempting to try and bust these guys, that's only playing into their game. Until you're ready to make the true killer reads and punish these guys, just be patient and use good bankroll management so you can fight the bigger battle. Overall let them hang themselves and pick your moments with premium hands, and you can make some good money.