Controlled Aggression in Poker
What is controlled aggression? This term is an oxymoron. When one is exerting control, one is being cautious, circumspect, and prudent. That is, one prefers to do nothing than doing something that could be erroneous. But when one is being aggressive, one is in an offensive situation. Thus, being in control and being aggressive are two opposite things. How can two opposite things be combined, especially in poker? These two can be combined with the right training.
Training to develop controlled aggression is experienced by fighter pilots and police officers. Fighter pilots are on an aggressive mission, but their actions must be precise and they must have complete control over their huge, fast, and sophisticated jets. Police officers are trained to go after criminals, but they must also know how to keep the innocents safe. In the game of poker, a player will always be intent in winning the pot, but he must be able to protect himself from huge losses.
Controlled aggression in poker involves two important skills. First, the poker player must be able to make himself fold each time he gets garbage hands. And second, the poker player must know how to goad his opponents to increase the pot, when he has the winning hand. Mastering these two skills cannot be done just by reading books and articles such as these. Mastering these skills will take time and exposure to the actual poker games.
In actual poker games, a player will always be tempted to call even when he has mediocre hands. This is because some people view folding as surrendering. If a poker player has this similar view, then he should immediately change it, before he can even hope in winning a poker game. Folding should be viewed as either a business move or a tactical action. Folding is a business move which is similar to cutting one's losses. Folding is a tactical action which keeps one's soldiers (or chips or money) alive to fight the next battle. This next battle, if the cards are right, can be the winning hand. Folding is the "control" part of poker.
The "aggression" part is never forgotten even during the "control" part. The aggression part in poker meant keeping one's mind watchful and ready. When one gets the good cards, one should be ready to use all the available means to make the good cards take the maximum amount possible for the winning pot. Thus, being watchful and ready does not pertain only to waiting for the good cards but collecting little tidbits of information about the betting patterns and behaviors of one's opponents. These tidbits of information can be used when the right time comes.