To play winning poker, you have to play aggressive poker, especially in no-limit Texas Hold 'Em (If you want to know how you should play in fixed limit games, read our Fixed Limit Poker Strategy). Just like it sounds, being aggressive in poker is the opposite of being passive in the game, where you make the bets and raises more frequently instead of acting as a calling station during hands.
An Aggressive Poker Strategy Wins More
Aggression in poker opens up more chances to win and it is vital that you're able to exercise a strategically aggressive style of play. This means you don't bet and raise every chance you get but every chance you think you might gain from it.
Why should you be aggressive in poker? Let's say you're holding AdKc and the flop hits: AsTh7h. You have the top pair with the top kicker, which is a nice hand but that can be cracked by the turn, especially because you've got two hearts sitting on the board. You'll want to dissuade your opponent (who might be on the flush draw) from seeing another card that could give them the nuts.
Your main objective is to be aggressive enough to give your opponent the wrong pot odds to call and improve their hand. If you just call, you can be outdrawn on the turn or the river.
Aggressive Poker is Power Poker
Being aggressive saves you from tricky spots, but it can also put you into a position and force your opponents out of the pot in the pre-flop betting round that would be acting after you later in the hand.
Let's say you're two seats away from the button in a cash game and are holding QsJs. Everyone has folded to you except for a player that lumped in. If you raise it to 4 big blinds and the seat next to the button along with the button folds, you've just "bought position" for the rest of the hand.
With this technique, you'll be in control because you'll be the last to act for the rest of the hand, giving you a real advantage over the players who call after the button. The more players you can force out of the hand that act after you, the better position you will be in.
Playing aggressive poker well involves betting and raising () when you have an advantage over your opponents. This can be when you have better cards, better position, or even when you have better poker ability than them. Aggression is only beneficial when you keep a cool head, and when you pick your spots wisely to make your bets and raises.