Play Money Poker
Go onto the Internet and join one of the play-money online games. You will find poker play at its most aggressive-raising wars with raises frequently capped, people betting heavily on the flimsiest of cards, and no caution shown when scary cards appear on the board.
Of course, everyone can afford to be aggressive because the money is truly meaningless -there isn't any. Play-money poker is an extreme example of a loose-aggressive game. The defining features are a lot of betting and raising with little consideration of the cards. Loose-aggressive players are there for the competition. They are also the people who like to gamble.
Play-money poker is a good approximation of loose-aggressive games, because for loose-aggressive players, money is something they play with. Part of the thrill is unnerving the other players with their lack of caution towards money.
Often it only takes one or two loose-aggressive players to turn an entire table into loose-aggressive play. Everyone starts throwing money around to show that the aggressive player does not intimidate them. Soon the whole table is on a tilt.
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Strategic Considerations for Loose-aggressive Games
Primary reasons for the game - entertainment, competition.
Money - no one cares.
Competitiveness - high.
Your Cards. You will always pay dearly to get to the river in loose-aggressive games. Often you will pay dearly just to see the flop. Make sure your cards are worth it. If you wouldn't raise with the cards you have, don't call because you should assume that someone will raise later on.
Position is important but in a different way. What counts is your seat in relation to the aggressive players. Many poker books will advise you to sit so that aggressive players are on your right, meaning that they act before you do. By acting after an aggressive player, you have better knowledge of the cost to play your cards. If the aggressive player stays in the hand, fold all but your strongest cards because it will cost too much to play speculative hands.
While this is true, in my experience, there are also advantages to having loose-aggressive players on your left and having them act after you. Assume from the beginning that the aggressive player will bet and only play your strong cards. But only bet those strong cards if you have to. In most cases, hold back and let the aggressive player bet for you. Check when it's your turn and either call or raise the bet when the action comes back. The other players will often pay to chase a loose-aggressive player when they would not pay to chase you.
Number of players. Usually, more than half the players will see the flop no matter how many pre-flop raises there are. Often, raises will goad loose-aggressive players into staying in the hand rather than drive them out. The more action, the more they feel compelled to play. They hate being left out.
Playing styles are aggressive. Plan on calling raises before and after the flop. Seeing the river card will always be expensive. Big money will be wagered by the other players on marginal and speculative hands.
Most Important Factor:
Cost. Make sure you are getting the correct pot odds when you throw your money out. There will be a constant temptation to gamble. In some situations, it will be correct to gamble because there will be so much money on the table that any draw is playable. Other times, the same draw should be folded because the money at stake is too small.
Frustrating Features of Loose-aggressive Games:
Making sense of your opponents. There may not be any rationale behind their play so don't think too hard about their thought processes.
Wild swings in your bankroll. Loose games always result in bad beats. Add aggression to the mix and you get costly bad beats. When you do win, the pot is large, but it takes painful losses along the way to the winnings. The result is wild swings in your bankroll. It becomes tempting to not want to leave the table unless you've had an upswing, and then you still don't want to leave because it is an upswing. Loose-aggressive games require disciplined play.
A Common Mistake:
Getting caught up in pre-flop raising wars while holding mediocre pocket cards. This is especially seductive when you are one of the blinds. Any time someone is in a blind position, they feel they already paid to see the flop and should do so no matter what. Blinds are a cost of play and yes, occasionally, you get lucky and with a pair of garbage cards for a blind, hit a great flop. But don't call one or two raises in the blind when with those same two cards, you would not pay anything to see the flop. Learn to let your blind money go, and don't feel you have to chase it.
Pay close attention to the pot odds. The pot size varies greatly from hand to hand in loose-aggressive games. For a large pot, it may be correct to call two raises if you are on a draw, especially if four or five others call, too. However, for the exact same draw and a small pot, calling raises could cost too much. It requires great discipline to know when the same situation with the cards is a different betting situation because of the pot odds. There is a tendency for people to play the same cards the same way.
Consider an inside straight draw. You might adhere to the adage "never draw to an inside straight" and always fold, or you might be a player who never folds any kind of draw, including one to an inside straight.
However, correct strategy requires a cold mathematical evaluation of the pot odds. The chart shows that with one card to come on a draw with four outs, such as an inside straight, there is an 8.7% chance of success. In a $3-6 game, if every time you draw to an inside straight it costs $6 to see the final card, you will spend an average of $70 for each success. That means every time you try this play, there must be at least $70 in the pot or over the long-run you will not turn a profit. In a tight $3-6 game, there rarely is this much money in the pot and folding is almost always the correct play. But in a loose-aggressive $3-6 game, pots will easily exceed $70 if all the players at the table call a pre-flop raise. When the pot is that large and you have an inside straight draw, you must make the bet.
Maintaining cost discipline is psychologically difficult, because of normal statistical fluctuations and the fact that in Hold'em, unlike other forms of poker, you get to see what your last card would have been if you had not folded. What this means is that there will be times when folded hands would have won and hands you stayed with 10se and you will know in each case. Don't change your strategy because of these normal statistical fluctuations. Over the long run, it will cost you money if you leave big pots on the table unchallenged because you refuse to draw to an inside straight, or insist on always drawing, even with small pots, just in case the right card comes up.
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