Aggressive vs. Conservative Play in Poker

There are many types of poker players, the loud ones, the quiet ones, the math geniuses and the instinctive players. A key skill though, is learning when to be aggressive and when to slow down.

What determines an aggressive vs. a conservative player in general?

If they are aggressive, they are comfortable with the game, they know what they are doing most of the time. It is just different styles of play, and people start out playing like that. The conservative kind of player will never win many tournaments in the long run. They last long in a tournament, but it will be rare for them to win one. It's not that they never will, but they just don't have as good a chance as somebody who plays aggressive. Conservative play is not a good style. It is good if you are able to play aggressive and conservative. When you see a lot of loose players in the game, play conservatively, when you see a lot of tight of players, you play aggressive. You have to mix it up. It all depends on the game you are in.

Question: How do you figure out which playing style is better for you?

You sit in the game for a little while, you figure out that you have some calling station types. They are paying off on the river so now you can't be playing weak hands, you have to be playing stronger hands. When you do flop something, you know that they are going to pay you off, so that's a good strategy there. It also depends on the blind structure, is it worth it to try to steal the blinds at that point in the tournament if the blinds are not big enough, it's not even worth messing with it. You just wait till the blinds are big and that's when you make your move.

Question: Say you are sitting on the button at a ten-person table, and five people have called. Is that a good place to try to steal because there is enough in the pot to make it worth it?

You can do that, and it's not a bad strategy to use sometimes. You can do it out of all positions. Sometimes you can do it out of the big blind if there is enough money out there to try to do it. If you are playing a big buy-in tournament and you have $20,000 in chip. If there's not six or seven thousand out there to try to steal it's not really worth making that kind of a move.

Question: If you are a hyper-aggressive player, how hard is it to change speeds at a loose table?

It depends how good you are. It depends if you have control of the game and you are really comfortable with the game. That's what it boils down to. It doesn't matter what kind of table you have. You just have to have control of your game. If you have control of your game, then it's easy to do it. If you don't have control of your game, though, you always have one style anyway, you don't know what you are doing.