The in ‘vogue’ style of playing poker these days is the ultra aggressive, raise with any 2 cards preflop, post flop, on the turn, and on the river, style of play. Probably mainly originating in Europe, this hyper-aggressive play can be somewhat difficult to deal with if you do not have much experience against it, especially in a NL game.
However, the style of play that I normally play and like to teach to my students is more of a tight aggressive play that will always be competitive, even against the go-for-broke Europeans.
First of all, playing too tight will get you in trouble these days, especially on the internet. When I hear a player say that they play really tight, this generally means that they only like to play perfect cards, such as A-A or A-K, Q-Q etc. Obviously, it is easy to bet when you have a great hand. However, waiting for these cards to come, especially in tournament play will get you broke more often than not. If you are going to compete in online play, you can still play tight, but you have to play aggressively when you do make plays.
Let’s say that you are at a table of insane ultra raisers and you end up with A-K in early position. You put in a raise and of course get 2 calls along the way. The flop comes T-6-2 rainbow which is obviously a total miss. You are up against players who will play any two cards, so what do you do in this position?
You bet. Not only that, you bet anywhere from 2/3 of the pot to pot-sized bet. This is where you have to be aggressive. Sure, one of them could come over the top of you, but most of the time they are going to have to have hit some piece of that flop to do it, if you bet enough. Remember, this maniac play is not based in going all in with nothing. It is based on stealing, stealing, stealing. If you lead out with a big bet, the fact is, they have to have a hand in order not to fold. If you check, they can and will bet with anything.
It is still OK to play tight poker against overly aggressive players if you follow it up with aggression. These players are not hitting any better cards than you are. They are just more willing to throw their chips around. If you play the hands that you don’t fold aggressively, they will have a hard time pushing you around and be forced to respect it more when you do play a hand.
Tight aggressive play will always be a winning style of play. However, if you just play tight, it will always be a losing style of play as well.