How To Defend Against an Aggressive Poker Player

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BetMGM Apr 18, 2024, 3:16 AM

There’s nothing more frustrating than coming up against loose-aggressive players (LAGs), both good and bad. When applied well, a loose aggressive strategy successfully takes advantage of any sign of weakness displayed by other players, regardless of whether you are playing Texas Hold’em, Seven-card Stud or Omaha poker rules. But are there also ways for a defensive strategy to overcome brute force players in online poker? Let’s show you the advantages of playing aggressively and how you can play defensively to deal with a LAG player. 

What is an aggressive poker strategy?

What makes a poker player aggressive? Generally speaking, certain moves, such as opens and raises, are considered aggressive plays, while calls and checks are considered passive. Aggressive players often make more money with weak hands through skillful bluffing. The general consensus among poker players is that the best online poker tournament strategy is an aggressive one – whether tight or loose. That said, keep in mind that defensive strategies can have distinct benefits and strengths when you’re playing at a land-based casino.

How to play like an aggressive poker player

LAGs often use an aggressive strategy to play several hands, usually 30% or more of what they’ve been dealt. A good LAG will raise and three-bet before the flop. At most, they will loosen up their starting hand requirements by, for instance, playing any of their two cards while heavily relying on their aggression or postflop skill to beat other players when the community cards come into play. If you are not a LAG yet but wish to adopt this strategy, it’s recommended that you have some structure to your starting poker hands list (this applies to all variants of poker, not just Texas Hold’em poker hands), as this can be very important.

Even as a beginner LAG player, there are some aggressive players you shouldn’t try to emulate. These are ego-driven players who are usually reckless and have not fixed any leaks in their playing style when they play poker online games for money, but they are simply players who will not find a fold. These players are frustrating to play against – with good reason. What’s more, they might just destroy your bankroll, even if they have no idea what the fundamental theorem of poker is.

A good LAG strategy is to play several hands and bet aggressively while understanding equity. Loose-aggressive players are always aware of the importance of their initiative. Once the round begins, they will find a lot of spots to bet and then take down the pot with a weak holding. This is their biggest strength. Unlike tight players, they are more likely to get action because they are aware of the impact their image has on others.

How to spot an aggressive player

There are several ways you can tell whether a player is aggressive or not. One way you can identify an aggressive player n is during preflop, especially in no-limit hold’em poker. The aggressive player is often the one who open-raises and places a three-bet. It is easy for novice punters to tell that only a fairly small percentage of starting hands are strong enough to raise or re-raise. So, usually, if a player raises more often preflop, it’s a sign of aggressive play. 

When the game reaches the flop betting round, an aggressive player will likely pull a range of other tricks. One of them is to place a continuation bet that keeps the initiative with the raiser before the flop. A check-raise can also happen on the turn. This can be a sign of aggressive play, depending on the situation, such as when the dealt card could draw. The scare can occur on the river, causing any bet or raise to appear aggressive.

Hand holding two ace cards on poker table with poker chips

The aggressive vs. defensive strategy

Aggression is a beneficial strategy that all new players should acquire as part of the poker basics. That is why beginner poker guides will often tell you to “bet if they check” on the flop, just to get you ready. At most preflops, players are not dealt paired cards. Usually, pocket pairs will appear after a number of hands, meaning that making a pair even on the flop is worse. If your opponent has checked on the flop and has yet to make a pair or better, it’s advisable to be aggressive rather than passive. At this stage, you’re more likely to win if you bet.

On the other hand, a defensive strategy means taking passive rather than aggressive action. This usually means checking instead of betting and calling instead of raising. This strategy protects your money rather than boosting the overall size of the pot. Defensive strategies are mainly popular in online poker tournaments and are often referred to as “pot control” because the aim is to protect stacks.

Don’t make this mistake when playing poker

A common mistake new players make at poker tables is to play too defensively, even when they have a strong hand. Both strategies have their benefits, but if you’re still trying to discover your own style, best play with some combination of the two. Choose your bet depending on your hand, the bet size, the stage of the game and your opponent’s style of playing. One of the most important poker tournament tips to remember is that no strategy is flawless or risk-free. 

How to beat an aggressive strategy in poker

Before you sit down at the poker table with an aggressive player, there are many factors to consider. This is especially true if you are a player who wants to improve your defensive playing style to counteract more aggressive styles. 

Here are some of the ways in which you can attempt to beat aggressive players in poker online. 

Slowplay against aggressive players

Between loose and aggressive players, slowplaying is a good thing. As aggressive players play too many hands and will bet too much, you want them to think that you have a strong hand. However, it is also important to remember that aggressive players are often excellent hand readers. For instance, if a LAG sees you call twice on a straight or flush, it tells them that you likely do not have a strong hand (like a perfect pair, for instance) – because if that had been the case, you would have raised earlier.

Slowplay and four-bet before the flop

As you now know, LAGs will bet with a wide range. To beat this, you will need to slowplay preflop and introduce preflop four-bet bluffing. Slowplay a hand such as king–king or ace–ace before the flop and the opponent will be less likely to have a strong hand, given the wide range. It becomes very profitable to slowplay your strong hand. Moreover, it works to your advantage to have opponents folding whatever hand they three-bet with if you four-bet as a bluff.

Bluff raise

To defeat a LAG, you can look for spots when your range will be seen as strong, even though it may be weak. Then, add some bluffs. For instance, you can bluff by raising with much weaker hands on spots when there are only strong hands or draws. This will allow you to combat your opponents’ aggression in spots when your range is relatively strong. 

More so, bluff raising also gives you some equity and could make your play much more profitable. However, it is advisable to sometimes follow up with multiple barrels if your raise gets called on the flop.

Pretend that you have a weak hand with passive play

When you are playing against an aggressive poker player and have the nuts, it can be a good idea to let the aggressive player dig themselves into a hole. Either bet small or check to trick the aggressive player into thinking you are playing conservatively because you have a weak hand. If you are lucky, you may be able to fool them into going all in, allowing you to match their bet and take them to the cleaners.

Factors to consider with online poker strategies

Regardless of whether you intend on playing poker with friends or you’re preparing for a poker tournament, these simple strategy tips may prove useful. 

Bet size

One of the most important factors to consider is the bet size, as it impacts the odds of the pot and the range your opponent represents. You will need to adjust accordingly.

Opponents’ behavior

Being able to read your opponent’s behavior is crucial, especially if they have extreme tendencies. This will make it possible for you to predict their behavior.

Range advantage

If the board is good for your opponent’s range, it is advisable to raise often. You can do the opposite if the board is good for your own range.

How to play poker online

Man showing excitement while looking at laptop with poker chips on the table

Playing poker at a land-based casino has its benefits. You can turn it into a great casino date night and explore the many other forms of entertainment and fine dining available at MGM resorts. But poker is a game of skill that improves with practice and study. You can’t always visit a casino to practice and try out your strategies and tricks. This is where BetMGM comes in. 

When playing poker at our online poker site, you can hone your poker skills with over 70 daily poker tournaments and games. We have a wide range of buy-ins to suit all budgets and skill levels. Our selection also features a wide range of real poker variations – including player favorites like Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Seven-Card Stud – to play on fixed and no-limit pots. 

To play with the big league, join the Sunday $30K Guaranteed tournament, the Progressive Knockout Bounty tournament or the Mega Tuesday tournament. Will you be the slick defensive player or the opportunistic aggressive player? There’s only one way to find out.

Test your poker strategy with BetMGM

BetMGM is not just a casino alternative – it’s a complete virtual casino platform. Choose between different types of casino games – from slots to casino table games and sports betting. We have thousands of mobile-optimized online casino games to play and an exciting range of poker games online. We also offer a myriad of wagers on a range of sports, both at the professional and collegiate levels. 

Seeing is believing, so why not browse our site to explore our extensive catalog and ongoing promotions so that you can have even more fun when you play? Register for next-level gaming, where you never worry about making a casino fashion faux pas.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.