Friday, January 21, 2005

Whither Aggression?

We've all heard from various successful tournament players who've claimed that aggression is the key to doing well. But now I pose this question: How do you pick your spots to display this aggression?

First, some background. In both live and online MTT's, if I'm fortunate enough to make the final table, it is generally with a below average stack in 7th place or lower. I'm convinced that the frequency at which this occurs is not a coincidence, but rather indicative of my play style at various stages of the tournament. Without sufficient ammunition at the final table, finishing at or near the bubble has been my fate.

Taking a step back, I'm realizing that I'm missing opportunities to gather chips and build a sufficient stack size to wield later on.

I've experimented in a few MTT's of late to see if I could change things up by being more aggressive. At a recent 24 player tourney at CheckNRaise, I was able to do just that and make some timely steals. The additional chips helped me stay alive longer than I normally would have and I was able to finish 2nd.

Contrast that to a MTT on Party the other night. I tried to play in a similar fashion and met with some early success, building up from an initial T1000 to about T1400. Then in late position, I'm dealt A,Ts. With two early position limpers, I'm sensing an opportunity to throw out a significant raise and make a steal. With the blinds at T15/30, I make it T125 and get one caller. With a flop of 5,7,7 and a check to me I bet out T200 and am simply smooth called. When a Q hits the turn and the other player checks, I bet T350 in hopes that he's put me on A,Q or K,Q and will fold. Instead, I'm raised all-in. Well there's an obvious fold and the other player shows me his pocket 5's for the flopped full house.

Now I'm shortstacked at about T700 and get a dry run of cards. I finish 15th when my J,J runs into A,A.

Obviously the sample size is too small, but similar play styles yield much different results.

Here are some questions I'm throwing out:

1. When do you pick your spots and what are your hand requirements? In the above example, was A,Ts in a pot of limpers a good time to make a play? My hunch is yes and I simply got out-flopped.

2. When you get aggressive, run into a hand and get shortstacked, where do you go from there? Remain aggressive? I thought that pushing w/J,J was doing just that. Again, I believe I just ran into a hand.

3. At what frequency to you get aggressive? If you're overly so, nobody's going to believe that you've got cards worth raising every 5th hand. Do you not worry about how often you raise and just simply pick the right spots that make themselves available to you?

I still believe being aggressive is important, but I need to refine my skills and improve my timing on when I choose to do so.

It's such a fine line between stupid and clever. - Nigel Tufnel

No comments: