As we see in Episode 1 of Between the Lines, early aggression in poker and F1 is often the key to success
Just as Formula 1 drivers dream of starting a race in pole position, poker players dream of starting a tournament with more chips than their opponents. In both sports, early leads provide a huge advantage.
Despite the equal starting stacks in poker tournaments, we often see players compile big chip leads – and win huge pots – as soon as a tournament begins. Poker can go from zero to top speed in a flash, and some players leave others eating their dust.
But how do they do it? How can you build yourself a big stack and apply pressure to your opponents from the get-go?
Well, in F1, drivers in the grid behind the polesitter use their racing skills and strategic know-how to overtake opponents, whether that’s through a brave piece of manoeuvring or calculated pitting.
Ultimately, in both F1 and poker, it requires a precise strategy built around aggression.
Making moves that make your opponents sweat. Moves that make them feel uncomfortable. Moves that could see you take a commanding lead.
EXAMPLES OF EARLY AGGRESSION PAYING OFF
The wait is over. The new F1 series is here. And to celebrate, PokerStars and Oracle Red Bull Racing invite you to embrace the race with Between the Lines, a video series that puts you in the driving seat.
Between the Lines goes full throttle from track to table, showcasing the strategies shared by both the fastest racers and greatest grinders. Episode one is all about early aggression and how to switch gears at the perfect time.
In the first episode, Fortune Favours the Brave, you’ll see the story of Hossein Ensan who successfully used early aggression on the 2015 European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague final table to battle his way to the title.
But aggressive poker play begins as soon as the tournament kicks off.
In 2014, Swedish poker pro Martin Jacobson famously ended Day 1A of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event as the chip leader, turning his 60,000-chip starting stack into 200,100.
Over the next six days of play, he used that big stack to great effect, always finishing in the top 30 chip counts when the chips were bagged and tagged. According to Jacobson, he was never all in for his tournament life.
He rode his dominating chip position all the way to the final table and ultimately won the tournament, earning himself a staggering $10 million.
A similar thing happened in the $100K Super High Roller at the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom – one of the most feared and aggressive online players in history – built himself a powerful chip stack early on and used well-timed aggression en route to the title and a $1.25 million payday.
You can watch Blom in action below.
You can learn more about Blom’s rapid rise in poker in this article.
AGGRESSIVE POKER PLAYS (AND HOW TO USE THEM)
If the early bird gets the worm and the second mouse gets the cheese, then the aggressive poker player gets the results.
There’s a reason that young guns such as Blom and Tom Dwan ascended through the poker ranks so quickly more than a decade ago, and why the best tournament players of today often have preposterous chip leads throughout events.
The reason is that they play an aggressive, attacking, calculated style of poker designed to build big pots, create uncomfortable situations, and apply the maximum amount of pressure on their opponents.
Sounds good, right? Everyone wants to be the aggressive player that other players fear at the table. A reputation as a strong, aggressive player allows you to win pots you shouldn’t, and get paid off when you have it.
Just watch some of the most aggressive hands from EPT Monte Carlo 2019.
But how do you become an aggressive poker player? What are aggressive poker plays? And when should you use them?
That’s what we cover in this article.
POLE POSITIONS FOR AGGRESSION
The best F1 drivers don’t simply try and overtake every opponent at every available opportunity.
They show patience. They wait for opponents to show moments of weakness. And that’s when they strike.
The same is true for poker. Patience and aggression go together, particularly in the early stages of tournaments when chip stacks are large in relation to the blind levels.
Sure, sometimes the premium starting hands (ace-queen up to pocket aces) simply fall in your lap, giving you the freedom to put chips in the middle with glee.
But if you simply sit back and wait for those hands to arrive, you might find yourself trailing the rest of the pack.
Early aggression can be crucial in poker tournaments. But how do you know when it’s your moment to strike? And what positions at the poker table are best to attack from?
Check out the video below from PokerStars Team Pro Lex Veldhuis where he focuses on aggression and position, explaining his thought process in simple terms.
OK, so we know we must be aggressive in poker tournaments. But we must be even more aggressive in Progressive Knockout (PKO) tournaments.
That’s because every player has a bounty on their hand and the more players you eliminate, the more money you’ll win.
Things can get very wild very quickly in a Bounty Builder PKO event, as everyone at the table hopes to be the eliminator. This can result in massive pots and enormous chip stacks.
And the bigger your stack, the more opportunities you get to knock out your opponents and collect their bounties. When your stack covers everyone else at the table, you’re in a commanding position.
But how do you get that big stack in the first place? How do you calculate if an aggressive play is worth the risk to win bounties?
Below, you’ll find some useful PKO strategy articles that will help you on your way.
- How Bounty Builder events work and why you should play them
- Getting to grips with the mathematics of bounties
- KO Poker: The 5 players to target (and the 5 players targeting you)
- The Complete Guide to Knock Out poker