The fishtank 16

Don't let a bad beat get you down: there's expert help at hand, simply email two-time WSOP champ Scott Fischman

Fighting back

I want to know what the best way is to slow down an aggressive player. My friends and I play regular home games and there’s a player who continually raises, irrespective of position. But with the small stacks we play with (around 2000, with starting blinds of 50/100) he regularly comes out on top. I’ve tried making moves myself but always seem to get caught. And if I play tight, I get whittled down and have to make a stand with a weak hand. It’s very frustrating.

Alan Boulton

SF: Well, there are a couple of ways you can go about slowing down an aggressive player. First, when you have position on him, every once in a while when he raises, re-raise all-in with any two cards. If he’s raising with anything and everything, he will probably fold and, after a few times of him having to fold, he may decide to stop raising and try another approach. However, by using this strategy you are risking your tournament life, but you must consider it an investment. Now, when he has position on you, you can try limping into a pot when you pick up a big hand and let him be the aggressor. After you win a few hands this way, he will most likely reconsider raising you when you limp, which will also enable you to bluff and steal down the road.

Personal goals

I play in a poker league every week and have placed in the money several times but whenever I make the final table I’ve always got a below-average stack. I play tight for the first few levels and then loosen up a bit when the blinds are worth stealing, but when you only start with 50 times the big blind should you start playing aggressively from the outset?

Andy Edwards

SF: Basically it comes down to what your ultimate goal is when you are playing these tournaments. If your goal is to win, then being aggressive from the outset and being willing to put your tournament life on the line in order to build a big chip stack early is a good way to go. That being said, you will still have to be able to shift gears several times during the tournament in order to continue to build and maintain your stack. Being ultra-aggressive and gambling early on will likely result in a lot of early exits, but will also give you the best chance of putting yourself in a good position to win. If your goal is to make the money, then your current strategy is probably ideal. The key is to decide what you are looking to achieve and adjust your strategy accordingly.

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