There are times in poker when the correct play to make, expected-value-wise, is often the most aggressive line of action. By playing aggressively you’ll get paid off more when you have strong hands and often pick up pots with weak hands when you have say a flush draw. This is pretty basic information and should be easily understood and digested by those who play poker with any volume.
My last few sessions of poker have been played at various poker rooms around Northern Florida. I’ve noticed the older generation of players tend to take aggressive plays as a form of disrespect. It’s almost as if they feel offended when a young player makes a raise. In the past few days I’ve heard comments such as, “Jeez, they should turn online poker back on,” “You young guys have no clue; I’ve been playing poker for 30 years!” “Not all of us wear jackets and watches” and my favorite, “You idiot!”
I actually asked one guy how many chips he had and he said, “What do you care; it’s none of your business.”
I’m going to quickly break down how you should deal with these types of players and how to adjust your game strategy while playing against them.
First, keep your mouth shut. No reason to tap the glass. Just tilt your head like a puppy dog and say, “What do you mean?”
Second, keep applying pressure. The reason they say things such as, “Stop raising, I’m going to get you one of these times,” is because they’re uncomfortable playing in raised pots. Attack their blinds, widen your opening range preflop. The key is to only get to showdown with the nuts. Give up when they flat call your 2.5X raise preflop or your half-pot continuation bet, but when you fire all three streets make sure you have the nuts.
Balance doesn’t matter; it’s live poker and people don’t pay attention so just bet every street huge with the nuts. Their biggest fear is being bluffed so they will look for any reason to call. It’s funny when you bet 2X pot with quads and they call with ace-high. It becomes fun when you run someone over until they play back at you when you have aces or kings preflop. Keep in mind younger players tend to make some sort of bluff (that makes no sense) when they feel threatened while others adjust by calling down with marginal hands. Bluff more against the former while merging your value range against the latter.
Ever notice high-stakes cash-game players on TV can be having a friendly conversation one second then be betting hundreds of thousands of dollars the next? It’s because they understand playing poker aggressively is not a sign of personal disrespect. It’s simply the correct way to play the game. Just remember aggression at the poker table is not and should not be interpreted as offensive. The players who get ticked off have big egos, which means their entire bankroll is on that $1-$2 table. It’s our jobs to take it.
— Mike Wolf is a professional poker player who spends his time on the road. Follow him on Twitter (@mikewolf7) or on surebetpoker.net.