As you read about various poker strategies and player types, you hear a lot about loose online poker players, and tight players, as well as passive and aggressive bettors. The loose/tight factor, and passive betting style are easily understood, but the aggression factor seems to be misunderstood by many players.
In this online poker strategy, or theory if you will, we are going to completely define the aggression factor in poker.
What is the Aggression Factor?
Aggression is a ratio of a player’s Raise Percentage, plus Bet Percentage, compared to the Call Percentage.
(Raise% + Bet%)
Essentially, if you are raising and betting more often than you are calling, you are an aggressive poker player. Raises and Bets are aggressive, Calls are not.
Using the Aggression Factor to your Advantage
A player cannot simply use aggression on the poker tables without gathering some other important information first. It is a situational poker strategy, as are most poker strategies, and depends greatly on your opponents.
In order to use the aggression factor effectively against your opponents, it helps to know their aggression factor as well. Using poker stats tracking software, such as PokerTracker, can help you determine the aggression factor of your opponents.
If your opponents has an aggression factor of 0, meaning they only fold or call, never bet or raise, then you would be very wary of that player should they choose to raise. It means they are a very passive bettor, and when they do choose to raise, they mean business.
Reading the aggression factor of other players can give you a lot of incite to their hand choices. A player with an aggression factor of 50, for example, is what in the poker community call a fish. This means they are going forward with a lot of mediocre hands, like low pairs, low suited connectors or any hand with a face card, suited or not.
A player with a lower aggression factor, such as 20, is only betting or raising with pocket pairs, high suited connectors or two high cards off-suited at worst.
When playing against high aggression factors, like the 50 example above, you can take any strong hand and likely have him beat. His is playing a very wide range of hands, so while he may have a premium starter, he is more likely to have a draw hand or small pair.
A lower aggression factor, like the 20 example above, will take a stronger hand to call his bet/raise. You have to assume he is holding something that can easily hit a high pair or solid draw on the flop. A bet/raise after the fop points to top pair or a high-outs draw.
As we said before about 0 aggression factors, if they bet/raise, beware! His hand range is premium starters only, which we all know have the best odds of winning down the line before the flop. If you are not holding pocket rockets, you might as well save your chips. After the flop, a bet/raise has to be assumed as a minimal hand of top pair + top kicker.
What About Fold Percentage?
There are imitations to the aggression factor. This is where the Fold% comes in. You can’t go by aggression factor alone. The fact is, a player could have a very high aggression factor, but also a very high fold rate.
Let’s say a player always bets or raises. What if that player Folds 90% of his hands, but the other 10% are all bets/raises? This player must be treated with the same respect as the 0 aggression player.
The Fold % relates to one’s “loose/tight” player type. This is why it is not calculated into passive/aggressive behavior. But it is just as equally important to observe. A loose player folds less often, giving them a wider range of playable hands. A tight player who folds most hands is waiting for a solid starter.