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Lately I've been experiencing heavily aggressive play a lot. It seems like there is always one player who raises preflop to 3BBs or more very frequently.

They then follow up with a half pot or more bet almost every time. It's practically a guarantee if they're in position in a heads up pot, whilst there's a small chance that they won't c-bet out of position.

This type of player tends to either get knocked out or take the table chip lead soon after joining. When they do take the chip lead, they only get more aggressive.

The ways I currently deal with them are patiently looking for a nice hand or playing along in a very risky pot, floating up to half of my chip stack with air, and then pouncing at the first sign of weakness. The latter strategy sometimes loses me half my chip stack as I cut my losses due to a lack of weakness shown, and the action on the board.

The problem is, I can only currently choose between a tight strategy and a high risk strategy. I'm looking for something in between. A way to control the pot and force them to respect me.

How can I handle aggressive, relentless bettors?

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    Not really an answer per se, but Ed Miller's "Playing the Player" has good tips for this kind of player, though in a cash game context. It's also a great book in general. – Chris Farmer Nov 7 '14 at 21:07
  • Little confused "to either get knocked out or take the table chip lead", are you asking; in general, tournament or cash game? – Jon Nov 7 '14 at 22:29
  • @Jon thanks for you answer, generally I mean all three game types, but it's most common in tournaments, less in SnGs and even less in cash - but they do exist everywhere. – Dom Nov 8 '14 at 6:49
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The best way to beat this kind of player is tight-aggressive. you're not going to outplay this one, you're not going to bluff them, and you're certainly not going to be able to control them. All you can do is beat them. But it requires very disciplined uncreative play.

You let them self destruct right into your stack. This kind of player is going to raise with a wide variety of hands, he is almost always going to do a continuation bet on the flop, and more often then he should be he is going to continue the continuation all the way to the river. They will give you ample opportunities to take chips.

There is a great tool widely available online. It is a trainer to train you to beat loose, aggressive irrational players. Master it and you will be able to beat aggressive, relentless bettors. To find it go to any online poker site and look for the free play item on the menu. I know it sounds a little absurd, but a side of the game that good players often overlook is what discipline you need to over come the donkies. It is a good thing to understand on a deep level. It is not hard to beat foolishly aggressive players, but there is some subtlety to optimizing this. It is kind of like playing aces, every idiot wins in the long run with aces, better players win much more, the difference between the good player and the bad player is that good players understand how to win more with aces and the bad know they can mindlessly play aces and that is good enough. I sincerely suggest a few hundred hours of play money, and an occasional refresher.

There is one more thing you should be keeping in the back of your mind when you came across a player that is aggressive, relentless. This is the mode that great players play in. Good players are generally tight and aggressive, but as they gain experience the range of hands they can play profitably widens. I don't play K-8 because I don't know enough to play it really well. When I see players that play K-8 I tend to class them as fools, but Daniel Negranu plays K-8, and a wide variety of hands I don't, because he can profitably. There are a lot of great players out there that are not famous and able to play in this mode very effectively. Be wary, if the player keeps breaking your heart every time you have a big hand, you might of ran into someone you will not get an upside with.

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    Playing TAG is only part of the equation. If you know you're going to being playing very few hands, then play for stacks and enter the game short-stacked. I would play TAG while also only buying in for the table minimum. Just because they are loose doesn't guarantee you a win. Play TAG with a short stack and fire multiple bullets if/when needed. – Unknown Coder Nov 11 '14 at 14:57
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The more you get into the game, the more aggressive it gets so this is something you'll need to get used to if you want to progress.

I'd recommend finding out if they're loose or passive aggressive first before trying to pick them off.

To get a handle on this, you'll need to see a few of their showdowns. If they're playing the occasional wild hand then this would tend to point to loose-aggressive. If they're playing better hole cards, then this would point to tight-aggressive. N.B. the better players mix up their play so this isn't a foolproof method!

If the table is predominantly aggressive, you might find it profitable to play a more passive strategy for a while (and vice versa).

It is tempting to stick on the sheriff badge to try and flush them out early, but I'd advise against this. Wait a few orbits until you see some showdowns or let other players deal with them.

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These type of players offer an opportunity to make a lot of money if you can wait until you get a big hand, and don't take the action away from them...let them keep betting and just call, until the river when you check-raise or raise in position.

The other thing to do once in a while is to check-raise on the flop when they c-bet, thereby representing something like a set or top-two..if you do this once in a while, they will have to fold unless they are completely nuts.

The way to lose money to these players is to keep calling with mediocre hands, or even worse, calling the flop, maybe the turn, but then predictably folding after missing whatever outs you may have had.

The hard thing here is, except in case of slow or passively playing a big hand, is that you may have to risk all your chips when you do take a stand... It is definitely easier if you play with a shorter stack that you aren't too worried about losing... If you are deep-stacked and even a little bit scared of losing it, the aggressive player will brutalize you once he realizes that fact.

If you are short-stacked, check-raise the flop, get raised, and then you shove, it is highly likely villain will fold. Remember the "last bet" principle here...try to plan it so you can get the last bet in, and it has to be big...say he c-bets 10, and you have 110. you raise to 20. he raises to 40, that allows you to re-raise to 90, the last bet, and a big bet still compared to the pot. If villain has only ace-high or one pair (the most likely scenario), he is almost certainly going to fold here.

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