Conservatively vs Agressively
Poker Play – Playing Poker Conservatively or Aggressively
Playing poker conservatively and playing it aggressively are playing styles with definite ups and downs for both. Which form or poker play is best for you?
Careful or Reckless?
Every poker player at some point has to ask themselves, which style best suits my personality? Should I be playing a tight game, minimising my risks and protecting my stack? Or should I be going all out, scaring the crap out of everyone and bullying them to the point where they just meekly hand over their chips and leave, weeping?
There isn't an easy, set answer to this question, and to be honest, if there was one, it'd probably be “both.” This being the case, let's take a look at the upsides and downsides of both approaches, so we know what we're talking about here.
When we talk about playing conservatively, really we mean maintaining a tight game. You must be fastidious about not playing a hand unless you're convinced you're holding the nuts. This means folding fast, and folding early.
Most of the time you won't even bother seeing the flop. When you play truly conservatively, you hang on to your stack and you don't take any unnecessary risks. It's a strategy that makes a lot of sense, particularly when you're playing in long running tournaments, because in situations like that you can get paid if you merely survive for long enough.
So, specific upsides are longevity of your stack.
Possible downsides of this approach include the risk that a smart opponent may notice that you only ever play the best hands. This means that when you raise pre-flop, you'll cause a chain of spontaneous folding, like watching dominoes go down. In this scenario, you're probably going to find yourself walking away with the blinds more often than pushing the pot to something more swollen.
Of course, having the blinds is not to be sneezed at, and if you're in this to earn money, then helping yourself to the blinds is always a good move. But the point here is, playing conservatively can make you predictable.
Here we're talking about playing like a lunatic. Big pre-flop raises. Raising up quickly without appearing to think very hard about it. Using the size of your mammoth stack to force players to either fold or get all in.
There's a lot to be said for this technique, particularly when you're sitting at a table with a bunch of sheep. Hardcore aggression works best when playing against timid or inexperienced players, or against people you really don't know all that well.
Upside? Gain a reputation as a reckless psychopathic killer. Put the fear into people by casting your cold, dead eyes over them. Oh, and build your stack quickly.
Downsides? To maintain an onslaught of viciousness, you're going to need to bluff a lot. If you suck at bluffing, this strategy is going to turn out to be very expensive, very quickly.
And perhaps that last point is the defining factor here. If you can bluff superbly, go ahead and play aggressively. If you're useless at lying, play conservatively.