Rarely is it correct to play a hyper-aggressive style of poker. But there are certain situations where a seemingly reckless approach will actually be the most profitable strategy to employ, like at the Main Event at the World Series of Poker.
That’s because the Main Event features a unique combination of variables that must be present in order to make a hyper-aggressive poker style pay off.
The most important variable to consider is stack size. Hyper-aggressive poker works best in deep-stack tournaments. Tournaments where stack sizes are small in relation to the blinds and antes aren’t the time to play like a maniac. The goal of hyper-aggressive poker is to create a wild and crazy image that will return dividends when you’re eventually dealt a monster hand. You can achieve that table image by frequently making small raises with marginal hands that don’t jeopardize a large percentage of your chips.
Another factor to look for is the presence of weak players that call too many big bets. There are a swarm of these types at the WSOP Main Event. They are precisely the kind of players who are most confused by hyper-aggressive play. Look for these players to give you an early Christmas gift when you do pick up a monster hand. Be sure to avoid big bluffs against them, however, because they’ll call too often. Instead, wait until you have the best hand and then bet it strong.
Also, look for a game with minimal pre-flop reraising. Hyper-aggressive poker is most effective in games where players are happy to just call rather than reraise. You’ll be able to take control in these situations. However, if other players start reraising you before the flop, you’ll need to tighten up. At this kind of table, keep your bets on the small side. There’s no need to bet too much on speculative hands. Your goal is to reel in a big fish on the river and take all of his chips when you have a made hand.
You can also play hyper-aggressive poker against tight opponents when antes are introduced into the game. Picking up two or three sets of blinds and antes each round will help get you to the chip lead. But you have to stay out of trouble. Be very careful when one of the tight players calls your big bet.
Also look for situations where your opponents play poorly after the flop. Weak, lose, predictable and overly-aggressive players make the perfect targets. A hand that you wouldn’t normally play against solid players, like Jc-6c, is a hand that might have value against players who tend to make mistakes after the flop.
One more thing: If you also happen to have position against these same weak players, you can make a good case for playing virtually any two cards that you’re dealt!
The bottom line is that the WSOP Main Event draws the weakest field of the year in terms of caliber of player. The tournament is littered with novices who are bound to make at least one catastrophic mistake.
You’ll have to beat more than 6,000 players to win this tournament. My advice is to play as many hands as you can early on and hope to benefit from the inevitable mistakes that others will eventually make against you.
Sure, a conservative approach is the safer alternative. But in order to dominate a table and compete for the title, you’ll need to amass a lot of chips early. A hyper-aggressive style is well-suited to attain that goal.
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