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Aggressive Poker Style Pressures Opponents into Folding

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The concept of aggressive poker is not about playing every hand, although some players, such as Gus Hansen, seemingly do that.

No, the concept of aggressive poker is about selectively choosing your starting hands, and then betting strongly when you play a pot.

In fact, simply maintaining the betting lead can be enough to pressure opponents into folding, allowing you to represent the best hand even when you don't hold it.

In a simple example that makes this point, Barry Shulman, a tournament pro and the chairman of Card Player magazine, drew A-J offsuit at the 2005 Five Diamond World Poker Classic at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

With the blinds at $150-$300, Shulman raised to $725. Hansen called from the small blind, and Erick Lindgren, another active player, called from the big blind.

"I don't normally play A-J in early position," said Shulman, author of "52 Tips for Texas Hold 'em Poker," but it was obvious that Gus was playing every hand, so I just thought I'd see what was going on."

The flop came 6-7-10, rainbow. This was not the flop Shulman was looking for. But he held two overcards to the board and, perhaps more important, an aggressive betting posture.

Hansen and Lindgren checked. Shulman bet $1,500, about two-thirds of the pot. It's a big enough bet that could give Shulman the pot right there if his normally aggressive opponents don't have some kind of hand. Hansen folded, but Lindgren called.

The turn came the king of spades, giving Shulman a gutshot straight draw to a queen. He was about an 11-1 shot to hit the queen on the river, but he figured he had six other outs by counting the three unseen aces and the three unseen jacks. And, again, he had maintained an aggressive betting stance.

So, when Lindgren checked again, Shulman made it $5,000.

"When the king came and Erick checked, I knew if I put in a big bet, I could take it down," Shulman said, and he did, as Lindgren folded. "I was almost sure that Erick had a little pair, because he called and didn't put in a raise when I raised before the flop," Shulman said. "If he had a big pair, he would've raised."

Indeed, Lindgren held A-7 offsuit, giving him the pair of 7s that Shulman suspected.

"I still think I had him," Lindgren said. "I just didn't want to call another bet on the river with third pair."

Shulman's aggressive betting paid off. He had the worst hand, but his aggressiveness, along with his ability to read Lindgren's betting pattern, gave him the pot

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