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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

September 19, 2005

Viewer mail!

by G-Rob

I get all kinds of great questions here at "UpForPoker". People need to know things. Lets answer a few :

Yes, this IS my real hair.

No, Otis is not a made up name.

Yes, I'm really THAT bad a poker.

But sometimes I get a question so good it deserves a post of its own. Such is the case with this gem from our G-Vegas buddy Otit:

I know you guys have talked about what personality types are more conducive to successful poker playing. From the other direction, what personality type stands to learn the most from playing the game? Poker is a game of selective aggression. A person who is aggressive will probably be more successful in business and life than a passive or indecisive person, but I would think learning to control that aggression and use it selectively would make them even more succesful. On the other hand, can a person who is natural non-aggressive and indecisive actually use poker to develop aggression and decisiveness in normal life? Also, will it even be POSSIBLE for a passive person to develop a consistently aggressive style at the table, i.e. ramp up and be aggressive and maintain that under pressure? If so, for which type is it easier to make an effective transition? I would think full-time aggressive to selectively aggressive would be much easier because you are toning down a desirable behavior instead of correcting an undesirable one.


There are some wonderfully deep psychological questions here, but Otis will insist I put them on another blog. Until we unveil Up For Headshrinking, I'll have to let them rest. But it its safe to say that just as discipline in any endeavor would bleed into other parts of our life, working on our aggression in poker might impact us in other ways.

I think Daniel-san was probably good at waxing and painting as a result of his karate training.

A similar article in "Cardplayer" magazine wondered, "is an introvert or extrovert better suited for poker." The answer is really the same.


First we should clarify our terms. "Aggression" as it applies to poker isn't really arression per se. Instead aggression at the table is a willingness to make the right plays in favorable situations. Think of it like a high school bully. The sitcom episodes where the kid finally stands up to the bully and the bully backs off are probably based in fact. Blossom has a point.

A tough kid in high school gains that reputaion by picking on the weak, the people who are likely to either put up a weak defense or none at all.

In poker we look for players who are either so tight that they'll only play back at us with monster hands, which we can then abandon, or so weak that we can exploit our good hands for maximum payoff. Aggression against someone who is tight but not weak is a different skill.

Eventually our bully gets such a "tough guy" reputation that he rarely fights anyone at all. He is only confronted by people who are CERTAIN of victory, and even a dumb bully can see that coming.


I think a better way to consider "aggression" is as "confidence." It's been said a million times, sucess in poker is the ability to exploit the tiny advantages to our maximum advantage. A person with high confidence in his reads, when he thinks he has that advantage, will press it. That's AGRESSION.

If I think you're on a draw, I'll make you PAY BIG to catch it.

If I think your hand is weak, and you don't like it, I'll bet big with garbage to make you fold. (NOTE: This strategy does not work well against BadBlood.)

But aggression without knowing your position, your opponent's status, and the relative strenght of your own hand is just foolish.

Even better, once we've been able to show aggression against weaker opponents, it makes them more likely to use unbridled aggression against us.

It's fair to say, the only reason a hack player like me makes ANY money is through people playing back at my early aggression.


So does THAT make us more aggressive in life. I can't imagine it doesn't.

For example, some of what I've learned about poker tells has helped my during interviews at work.

The idea that we are able to locate our advantage and have the CONFIDENCE to exploit it is often the formula for greater success in anything we do. It makes sense that a good Tight-aggressive poker player would be more CONFIDENT in business as well.

And, that said, I still suck at poker.

Hope that helps OTIT.

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