It’s all well and good trying to generally inject aggression into our game, but it helps to be guided by numerous specific factors about which we’ve thought when away from the table.
Being the original, pre-flop aggressor in a hand is one thing, but continuing in that role is quite another. However situational poker is, taking our foot off the pedal tends not to be the best way of maximizing our chances of picking up a pot; we need to try to keep striking while the iron is hot. Obviously, we can’t blindly bet every street every time we try to take the initiative, but we can at least plan ahead in order to give ourselves the best chance of getting the job done when opportunities present themselves.
There’s no point constantly re-inventing the proverbial wheel when there are ever-present elements of the game from which we can garner the right kind of information to be able to act decisively. One such is Board Texture…
This is one of the most important parts of the game, yet so many players fail to fully appreciate its significance and bother only with how the board does or doesn’t connect with the hand they were dealt. But it’s vital to take into account all possible implications of the texture of the Flop in order to determine how we might continue in our quest to dominate proceedings.
Typical considerations might be if there are any draws out there, for example, and how the Flop could connect to whatever the opposition has. And we can go further than that by contemplating in what way the board texture relates to other players’ ranges. With these elements in mind, it’s clear that as well as looking at the board from our own perspective, the significance of what the Turn might also bring in terms of the rest of the table takes on even more importance, too.
We can then act accordingly. For instance, if we started out pre-flop with a strong hand and assumed the initiative, and are now looking to value-bet the Flop, we need to take into account – and narrow down – any draws that the opposition could have so that, should the Turn bring a scare card, we’re ready to slow down (if doing so is the most prudent option). By properly appreciating the board texture we can also size our bets more accurately, in tune with our assessment of the Flop’s (potential) impact on the hand.
Meanwhile, we might be in a spot where we don’t have a made hand, and exploiting board texture is our only way to continue with aggression, taking advantage by determining what the Turn scares cards are and preparing to double barrel bluff when one appears.
Generally, then, we should use board texture to first assess its impact on both the hands and the ranges of the remaining players and, secondly, use that evaluation to select an effective way to continue our strategy of aggression. It makes sense, for instance, that a short-sighted Continuation Bet policy is nowhere near as strong as weighing up the opposition’s likelihood of folding on the Flop AND the Turn when thinking about that in relation to the implications of board texture. This more refined approach would allow us to bluff more because we’re aware after reading the board of the significance of the next card.
Note that some Turn cards might point to a bluff while others call for a value bet, and so on. The trick is to get used to recognizing the potential impact of the board texture so that we can incorporate our assessment into our gameplan, which we can prepare in advance. The more we carry out this process, the easier the game becomes.