Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!)

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player

This article was written by contributor Fran Ferlan.

When playing poker, there is nothing quite as frustrating as dealing with an incessant aggression from your opponent.

While playing aggressively is something all good players should do, it’s infuriating when you are the one on the receiving end of said aggression.

So how do you deal with these players who keep barreling into you every chance you get?

Should you take a stand against them and start playing back at them?

This article will show you the best ways to deal with overly aggressive poker players, and how to actually use their aggression in your favour.

Let’s get right into it.

1. Aggression in Poker Does Not Always Equal Skill

Playing aggressively does not always equate to skill. While it can be frustrating to play against aggressive opponents, it’s worth remembering that not all aggression is created equally.

When it comes to beating aggressive poker players, there are usually two distinct types of players you should recognize.

There are skilled regular players who use a well-timed aggression to push you out of the pots. 

These players are arguably the most difficult to play against, and beating them will require quite a bit of skill and patience.

Then there are recreational players who like to splash chips around, and there is little rhyme or reason to their aggression. 

They will make all sorts of fundamental mistakes like playing too many hands, often total nonsense like:


And make silly bluffs at inopportune times and so on.

These players can also be frustrating to play against, but will also likely be the biggest long term losers in this game due to their chip-spewing habits. 

You definitely want this type of player on your right.

There are slightly different strategies you should employ depending on which type of aggressive players you are up against, but it all boils down to the same principle: use their aggression against them.

By the way, check out my recent video for the best advanced bluff catching tips.

Never miss my latest poker videos. Join 85,000+ who are already subscribed.

Now, let’s look at how this concept works in practice, starting with the cardinal rule of beating aggressive players, and that is playing in position.

2. Play in Position Against Aggressive Poker Players

Playing in position is just about the biggest advantage you can have in no-limit hold’em, and it’s especially useful when playing against aggressive players.

Playing in position means being the last to act in a betting round, and it’s the cornerstone of any successful proven strategy.

I won’t go into too much detail about why you should play most of your hands in position, as I’ve covered it extensively in my previous articles.

Check out my recent article on the 6 highly profitable beginner poker tips for example.

But here’s a brief overview on why playing in position is crucial against aggressive poker players:

a) you have an informational advantage

If you are the last to act in a betting round, you get to see what your opponent does first, while they have no idea what you are about to do.

b) you can control the pot size

By playing in position, you get the final say at the pot size, for example:

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!)

This is very useful when playing against aggro players as well because you can exercise pot control and prevent getting involved in a bloated pot. 

c) you can bluff catch more effectively

It’s easier to bluff when you are playing in position, but it’s also easier to catch your opponent bluffing, as well.

d) you can float them more effectively

Some strategies to deal with aggressive poker players are more effective when you are playing in position, one of them being the float.

Floating in position means calling the bet with the intention of taking down the pot on future streets, usually with a bluff. More on floating below.

As you can see, it will be far easier to deal with your opponent’s aggression if you have a direct position on them.

Conversely, if an aggressive player has a positional advantage over you, you will be fighting an uphill battle throughout the session.

They can make your life difficult by calling you in position preflop and raising you post flop, or by making frequent light 3-bets when you open-raise.

This can be incredibly difficult to deal with, and it’s likely to cause you some frustration.

What’s more, if you constantly play out of position against someone, you are very likely to lose over the long run, even though you might be a better poker player.

In poker, the money always flows from the players playing out of position to players playing in position.

This is just the nature of the game, and there’s no point in fighting against it.

So if you find yourself at a table full of aggressive players on your left, the best course of action is to not fight at all, and simply find yourself a more profitable table.

If you’re playing poker online, you can use the table selection and seat selection to your advantage and find players with plenty of recreational players around.

For a much deeper dive, check out my other article for the 6 best online poker tips every amateur must know.

If you are playing live poker or multitable tournaments, you obviously don’t have the luxury of switching seats. 

In these cases, best you can do is to avoid getting involved in too many pots with aggressive players, especially if you are playing out of position.

Learn to Make $2000 Per Month in Small Stakes Games With My Free Poker Cheat Sheet

Are you struggling to create consistent profits in small stakes poker games? Would you like to make a nice part time income of at least $2000 per month in these games? Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!) 
If so, then I wrote this free poker cheat sheet for you. 

This is the best completely free poker strategy guide available online today. It shows you how to crush the small stakes games step by step. 

Learn exactly what hands to play and when to bet, raise and bluff all in! 

These are the proven strategies that I have used as a 10+ year poker pro to create some of the highest winnings of all time in these games. 

Enter your details below and I will send my free poker "cheat sheet" to your inbox right now.


3. Patience is Key When Playing Against Aggressive Poker Players

You won’t always have the luxury of having a positional advantage over aggressive players. Sooner or later, you will have to get involved in a pot with them.

But resist the urge to play back at them the very first chance you get.

When it comes to beating aggro players, patience is key. This is especially the case when playing against recreational aggressive players.

You may feel like you should play back at them and try to “out-aggro” them, but this is often a recipe for disaster.

Fighting mindless aggression with a mindless aggression of your own is not going to work.

You may be sure your opponent is bluffing you, but bluffing them right back isn’t likely to work if your opponent is a full blown maniac.

For example, let’s say you run into a guy that plays just about any hand that’s dealt to them, and often makes ill-advised, badly thought out bluffs.

They donk bet the flop, you raise all in with your Ace-high, and they call you down with something ridiculous like third pair.

You feel like an idiot, and they feel like a genius, even though they played the hand terribly.

When it comes to bluffing recreational players, whether they play passively or aggressively, the advice is the same: just don’t do it.

Instead, wait for a decent hand and take all of their chips. If you’re playing against a maniac, they will simply donate their chips to your with their ill-conceived bluffs.

As Napoleon famously said: “Don’t interrupt your opponent when they are making a mistake.”

If your opponent is likely to make all sorts of crazy bluffs, why would you bluff them right back?

This way, they will possibly find a fold button, when they could have just barreled your whole stack to you without you lifting a finger.

Of course, this strategy only works if you have a decent hand to call them down to begin with.

This is why patience is key. There may be periods where you can’t get a decent hand to save your life.

There is nothing as frustrating as being card dead against an obvious maniac, but sooner or later, you will get a hand that’s a decent enough bluff catcher.

Then all you have to do is sit back and call them down while they attempt their silly bluff.

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!)

When it comes to beating decent loose and aggressive (LAG) regulars, on the other hand, it isn’t quite as simple.

Decent LAGs will make much less fundamental mistakes, and will balance their bluffs with strong value hands to keep you guessing.

Over the long run, you won’t win as much money from them as you will from clueless fish, but the general principle still applies: patience is key.

Don’t go into bluffing wars just to show them you won’t be pushed around.

You can (and should) play back against them from time to time, but don’t do it just because.

If you think you have a reasonable fold equity in a certain spot and think you can push them out of the pot, go for it. 

If not, simply wait for a better spot.

Also, don’t assume that the aggressive player is always trying to bluff you. 

As mentioned, skilled aggressive players will likely balance their ranges well, so trying to bluff catch against them can be tricky.

For more advanced strategies check out my ultimate guide to beat decent LAG players.

4. Float in Position Against Aggressive Poker Players

Floating is an excellent strategy to use your opponent’s aggression against them. It’s very simple and effective, especially when you are playing in position against your opponent.

Floating in position means calling a bet with the intention of taking down the pot on future streets, usually with a bluff.

The general idea is to call a bet with a wider range than usual, then making a bet yourself on future street once your opponent checks to you.

The beauty of this play is that your hand strength is totally irrelevant. You can attempt to do it with two napkins in your hand.

Of course, it’s better to have some sort of equity to fall back on, for example having some sort of drawing hand or a hand with showdown value. 

For example: 

You have 9♦️8♦️ and the flop comes T♥️7♠️3♣️, giving you an open ended straight draw.

This gives you more than one way to win the pot. 

You can either make your opponent fold with a well-timed bluff, you can improve your hand on future streets, or you can win the hand unimproved if you have decent showdown value.

Hands with showdown value are mediocre hands that aren’t strong enough to value bet with, but can often win the pot unimproved at showdown.

The more showdown value your hand has, the closer it comes to being a good thin value betting candidate.

Thin value betting means betting for value when your hand is ahead of your opponent’s calling range, but not by a huge amount.

In other words, you expect to win the hand just slightly north of 50% of the time.

With that said, your hand equity is not as important when floating, because you expect to win the hand by making your opponent fold, not by winning at showdown.

This means your opponent’s tendencies and their range are more important factors to consider.

For example, you may find an aggressive player that likes to double barrel a lot, but doesn’t fire the third shell on the river as often.

Double barrelling means making a continuation bet on the turn after a flop continuation bet.

If you encounter a player like this, you can float them in position with a wide range, then simply fire a half-pot bet every time they check the river.

Some players may be too “turn honest”, meaning they make flop c-bets with a high frequency, but give up on the turn unless they happen to have a really strong hand.

If you’re using a hand tracking software like PokerTracker 4, you can check your opponent’s playing tendencies on your heads-up display (or HUD for short).

How to Beat Aggressive Poker Players: Example Hand #1

You are dealt 87 on the BU (button). 

A loose and aggressive player open-raises to 3x from the CO (cutoff). You call. 

Pot: 7.5 BB



Villain bets 4 BB.

You: ???

You should call.

This is a good spot for floating in position. Let’s break down the action to see why.

Preflop you have a standard call with a suited connector. Suited connectors are decent speculative hands with a lot of upside potential, i.e. great implied odds.

If you manage to hit a strong combination with a suited connector, like a straight or a flush, you stand to win a huge pot, especially if your opponent is likely to bluff into you with a lot of air.

You don’t flop anything spectacular, but you shouldn’t give up the pot just yet.

The board is bone-dry, so your opponent could have missed it just as easily as you. Based on their playing tendencies, you can assume they are going to be making a light c-bet with a lot of air quite often.

A light c-bet is a c-bet made with the intention of getting your opponent to fold, i.e. the opposite of a value c-bet.

In this spot, you have some sort of equity to fall back on, since you have a backdoor straight and flush draws.

A backdoor draw means you need both turn and river cards to complete your straight.

If your opponent checks on the turn, you can make a half-pot bet and try to take the pot away from them.

In this regard, your hand strength is practically irrelevant.

If the villain double barrels, you can attempt a double float, then try to take the pot away again if they check to you on the river.

Conversely, you can potentially hit your backdoor draw and take down an even bigger pot.

Floating would be a lot more difficult and costly if you were playing out of position. But since you are playing in position, you can exercise pot control and try to realize your equity relatively cheaply.

This is why playing in position is so crucial against aggressive opponents.

If you want to learn more advanced poker strategies like floating and double floating, enroll in Blackrain79 Elite Poker University.

In today’s games, it’s not enough to wait around for the nuts all day if you want to be a profitable long term winner.

You also need to learn how to win pots even without a particularly strong hand.

This course will teach you the advanced hand reading techniques to pull off huge multi-street bluffs with confidence.

You will also learn how to make disciplined laydowns or huge hero calls on the river, no matter how difficult the situation you find yourself in.

This is in addition to 17 hours of advanced poker training, hundreds of step by step example hands and downloadable "cheat sheets" below all 50 videos.
If you are serious about taking your poker game to the next level, enroll today.
Get $100 OFF Use Code: ELITE100

5. Light 3-Bet Against Aggressive Poker Players

Another simple technique you can use against aggressive players is to adopt a light 3-bet in your arsenal.

A light 3-bet is a re-raise against another player’s open-raise made with the intention of getting your opponent to fold.

Loose and aggressive players are likely to open-raise quite a wide range, especially from late table positions (i.e. the cutoff and the button).

This means they will often attempt to steal your blinds when open-raising.

Blind stealing means open-raising from the late positions (cutoff, button and small blind) with the intention of getting the players in the blinds to fold and taking down the pot preflop.

Loose and aggressive player will usually blind steal with quite a wide range, and most of the hands in that range can’t stand the pressure of a 3-bet.

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!)

This means you will often be able to take down the pot preflop with a well-timed 3-bet.

By throwing out an occasional 3-bet, your opponents will have to think twice before trying to get involved in the pot with you, and you will prevent them from stealing your blinds with impunity.

The best hands to light 3-bet with are the ones that have some sort of playability post flop in case your bluff gets called.

Some of the best hands to light 3-bet with are suited Aces due to their great playability post flop and their insane nuts potential.

Suited Aces can make nuts flush post flop, and small suited Aces (A2s through A5s) have the additional nuts potential with the ability to make a straight.

Another reason suited Aces are great for light 3-betting is their blocker power.

A blocker is a card in your hand that reduces the number of strong combinations from your opponent’s range.

For example, if you have an Ace in your hand, it’s less likely for your opponent to have strong combinations like pocket Aces, Ace-King, Ace-Queen and so on.

This means they are more likely to fold to your 3-bet bluff.

Remember, the goal of a light 3-bet is to get your opponent to fold and to win the pot outright.

The looser your opponent’s range, the more fold equity you have, and the more likely you are to win the pot preflop.

With that in mind, you should be careful when trying to bluff maniacs, because they are less likely to fold to your bluffing attempts.

If you attempt a light 3-bet against a maniac and they call you, you will find yourself in a bloated pot, and you’ll be playing out of position if you are playing in the blinds, which is not ideal.

As mentioned, the best way to deal with aggressive players is to play in position against them, so be careful when you try to play back at them out of position.

How to Beat Aggressive Poker Players: Example Hand #2

You are dealt A3 in the SB. 

A loose and aggressive regular open-raises to 2.5 BB from the BU.

You: ???

You should light 3-bet to 10 BB.

This is a good spot to attempt a light 3-bet and try to take down the pot preflop.

In this spot, your opponent is likely blind stealing, so they will have quite a wide range here.

And most of the hands in this range aren’t strong enough to face a 3-bet, so you will have a lot of fold equity if you re-raise.

You also have a decent speculative hand with great playability post flop.

If your bluff gets called, you can still make a standard c-bet on most flops, and you have the potential to make a very strong hand and win a big pot.

As for which bet size to use, it’s better to go for a bigger 3-bet for a few reasons.

First of all, you will be playing the hand out of position, so you should charge your opponent a premium price if they want the luxury of playing in position against you.

You are letting them know that if they want to get involved in a pot with you, it’s going to cost them.

Secondly, by choosing a bigger 3-bet size, you are creating smaller effective stack sizes, which will make your post flop play easier.

The smaller the effective stack size, the more pot committed you are.

Pot commitment simply means that you should be inclined to play for the rest of your stack if you manage to flop something decent.

For example, if you flop a pair of Aces or a flush draw, you can be comfortable with shipping the rest of your stack in the middle.

For a much deeper dive, check out my recent video on the 9 advanced tips for serious poker players.

6. Bluff Catch Against Aggressive Poker Players

You won’t always have the luxury of waiting around for a monster hand you can use to trap your opponents.

As mentioned, there’s nothing as frustrating in poker than being card dead against a maniac.

Strong value hands don’t come around often in no limit hold’em, so if you can’t get a decent hand to save your life, you need to employ a different strategy to beat them.

One of these strategies is bluff catching.

As the name suggests, bluff catching means calling your opponent’s bets when you believe they have a lot of bluffs in their range.

This is usually done with a mediocre hand that isn’t strong enough to value bet with, but is ahead a number of bluffs in your opponent’s range.

For example: 

You have K♥️J♥️ on a board of A♠️J♦️6♣️6♥️3♠️.

In other words, the best hands to bluff catch with are the ones that have decent showdown value, which will also improve your WTSD%.

Hands with showdown value are the ones that can often win the pot unimproved at showdown, but aren’t strong enough to value bet with.

Hands like top pair, weak kicker, second and third pair hands may fit the bill of hands with showdown value.

You won’t often get a monster hand in no-limit hold’em, but you will get a lot of these mediocre hands far more frequently.

While they won’t often win you huge pots, they can still be put to good use when playing against aggressive players.

As a general rule, the more aggressive your opponent, the more bluffs they are likely to have in their range, and the wider you can call them down profitably.

If your opponent is a total maniac, virtually any hand with some sort of showdown value can work as a bluff catcher.

If you are confident in your assessment that your opponent is out of line, you should back up that judgment and make that hero call with your third pair.

One of the most common mistakes amatuer poker players make is calling too much, but when playing against aggressive players, calling more is actually a good adjustment to make in your strategy.

If you are able to make big, multi-street calldowns, your opponents will have a much harder time bluffing you with impunity.

However, just because someone is very aggressive doesn’t mean they can’t get a monster hand as well.

Sometimes, you will call them down and they will show you the stone-cold nuts.

This will inevitably suck, but don’t beat yourself up about it.

Remember, you are always playing against your opponent’s whole range, not just their actual hole cards.

If you happen to run into the top of their range, it sucks, but that’s poker for you.

That’s why it’s important to remember that patience is key, and you need to stick to your game plan even if it doesn’t work in every instance.

Check out my other article on the 5 super easy ways to tell if they are bluffing you.

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player - Summary

Playing against aggressive poker players can be frustrating, but you don’t need to study a ton of advanced poker strategy to beat them. 

All you need to do is be patient and make a few adjustments to your game.

To sum up, here are 5 ways you can beat even the most aggressive players at your table.

1. Recognize the aggressive player’s type

Aggression does not always correlate to skill. 

There are two main types of aggressive players: loose and aggressive (LAG) regulars who use a well timed aggression to push their opponents out of pots, and aggressive recreational players who just love splashing chips around (Maniacs).

The former category is far more difficult to play against, while the latter can easily be beat with the right approach.

2. Play in position

Dealing with your opponent’s aggression is far easier when you are playing in position against them. 

When playing out of position, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle, so it’s best to avoid these spots altogether if possible.

3. Patience is key

No matter the type of aggressive player you are up against, you need to arm yourself with patience. 

This means waiting for the right spot to take advantage of their aggression, instead of fighting it with a mindless aggression of your own.

4. Float in position

Playing in position allows you to float more effectively. Floating means calling your opponent’s bet with a wider range in the hopes of taking down the pot on future streets (usually with a bluff).

5. Light 3-bet against stealing attempts

In order to prevent aggressive players from stealing your blinds with impunity, you should adopt a light 3-bet in your preflop arsenal. 

3-betting against stealing attempts is very effective since a lot of hands in your opponent’s range won’t be able to stand the pressure of a 3-bet.

6. Bluff catch against aggressive poker players

Aggressive players are likely to have more bluffs in their range, so you can deal with their aggression by calling them down with a wider range and catching them in their bluffing attempts.

The best hands to bluff catch with are the ones with a lot of showdown value. Hands with showdown value are not strong enough to value bet with, but can often win the pot at showdown.

Lastly, if you want to know the complete strategy I use to make $2000+ per month in small/mid stakes games, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.

Best Way to Beat an Aggressive Poker Player (Just Do This!)