Skip to content


Use Well-placed Aggression to Put the Regs on Tilt | Podcast #277


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 5, 2020

I’m going to help you become a thorn in your opponent's side to put them on tilt by using well-placed aggression against them.

Your regular opponents (good TAG and LAG players who use a HUD) have expectations of how you currently play, and this may or may not already tick them off.  One of the things that makes poker profitable is capitalizing on the mistakes of others.  If we can do things to send them on tilt or make them react in a way that benefits our style of play, then we’ve increased our chances of profiting from their mistakes.

The most likely style of play to send regular players on tilt the loose-aggression style. This means you're playing lots of hands, and you're doing so with bets and raises instead of checks and calls.

We all know that aggression is very important in poker.  The best players are able to get in there and win more than their “fair share” of pots by utilizing well-timed aggression against susceptible opponents.

But, it’s not just the good bluffs that aggression helps you pull-off, it’s the tilt-inducing nature of aggressive play that can also reward you.

Let’s figure out how we can be the aggressive, irksome player who sends others on tilt.

Listen to this Episode: Use Well-placed Aggression to Put the Regs on Tilt

The 4 Characteristics of Tilt Inducing Play

Each of these characteristics have set me on tilt in the past, some more than others.  And I’m sure if this stuff sets me off, it's got to set off other regs as well.

1. “Unrestrained Aggression”

I’m putting “unrestrained aggression” in quotes because the best LAG players can make their aggression seem unrestrained.  It appears that they’re opening every pot for a raise with ATC.  You know these players, their stats are like 45/33 which means on average they play 45% of hands and 33% of the time they’re coming in for some sort of raise.

What you may not realize is that these super aggressive, but winning LAG players use excessive aggression to throw you off your game and put you in uncomfortable spots.

Nobody likes having every single BB raised, or being constantly 3bet by the BTN in hand after hand, or even facing the 3bet resteal from the BB every time we open the pot in the CO.  If we’re not careful we let this “unrestrained aggression” start to tick us off, and we play back at this LAG player at inopportune times.

So, when can we use “unrestrained aggression” to tilt others?

Tables with Lots of Folding

If the table as a whole is folding a lot against raises, 3bets and cbets, then it’s susceptible to extra aggression.

Get a feel for how aggressive, passive or foldy each table is in the first few orbits. Aggressive plays work well at non-aggressive tables. When you find a non-aggressive table, it’s time to experiment with “unrestrained aggression” and pressure your opponents into folding with lots of isolation raises, open-raises, 3bets and cbets.

Few Aggressive Players Still to Act

You need to feel out the entire table, but aggressive strategies work well when the 3 players to your left are not aggressive themselves.  These players either have position on us or they’re in the blinds when we’re in the CO or the BTN.

They can choose to use aggression on top of our aggression to push us out of pots. They see us getting aggressive with 2bets and 3bets preflop, so they’ll 3bet or 4bet us. They know we bluff cbet a lot, so they can play back at our cbets and force us to fold.

You want players who fold a lot or who are very passive to your direct left. They’re more likely to let you get away with your aggression.

You're looking for non-aggressive players on your left.

Folders to Your Right

It’s also great when the 3 to your right fold a lot as well. You want to see high folding HUD stats like:

  • Raise/Fold to 3bet > 60%
  • Raise/Fold to 3bet Resteal > 60%
  • Limp/Fold > 60%
  • Fold to Cbet > 50%

The more often they fold, the more likely you can put them on tilt by aggressing against them.  And even if they don’t tilt, they’ll be giving up on lots of pots.

It's lovely when the 3 to your right fold a lot.

2. Take the Initiative

How many times have you said to yourself, “I should open here because the blinds fold so much, but I’ve got 75o, so I’m just going to muck.”  Or maybe you’ve said, “Dammit, he isolated that fish before it could get to me.”

Well, the best LAG players see a good opportunity and take it.  They’ll 3bet squeeze in the BB when the opener is likely weak and of course the caller is as well.  They’ll iso-raise the fish limper to get HU with him, thereby taking this opportunity away from others at the table.  They’ll bluff on the scary Ace on the turn because they know their opponent won’t like seeing it.

So, they see a good play and act on it before someone else can. This ability to take the initiative comes with practice. You must watch the action, pay attention to the players at the table, and actively look for situations to exploit with aggression. If you’re watching Netflix, using Skype or paying your phone bill online, you’ll be missing loads of opportunities.

Check out this podcast about handling tilt-inducing players:

3. Adaptive Ability

You know what I think can really set me on tilt?  It’s the aggressive player that’s getting in there and raising hand after hand and I keep folding.  Eventually I get tired of this and fight back, but I don’t know they’ve made a change and now they’re only being aggressive with solid hands.  Suddenly I find myself all-in on an Ace high flop with AJs, and maybe it’s a 3bet pot and of course he’s got AK.  He could’ve had worse, but he’s adapted his play and narrowed his ranges to account for my likelihood of tilting with worse hands.

That’s how we’ve all got to be.  You don’t want to try and out-aggress the aggressive opponent. Just like you don’t want to out-nit the nitty opponents.  Poker is generally most profitable when you’re doing the opposite of the players around you.

So, at folding and passive tables, increase your aggression to take down loads of pots.  At aggressive tables you should nit it up and play less pots but with stronger hands, thereby having a great chance to double-up against a spew-tard.  And we’ve all been that spew-tard against aggressive players.  That’s what we want to find and take advantage of.

Making these adaptations comes with practice.  But again, it’s your ability to pay attention to the table, to the moods of the players, that helps you play adaptively.

4. Time Down to Annoy and Tilt 'em

This isn’t an aggressive poker playing strategy, this is more of a passive-aggressive mental game strategy.

In LIVE games you can talk a lot, talk trash and take your sweet time to try and get under your opponent’s skin.  You can do these things online as well, but it’s easy for players to ignore the chat. What’s more difficult to ignore is the time you take to act. If you notice a player acts quickly with every decision, they’re probably playing 1 or 2 tables.

It annoys them to no end when they have to constantly wait for you to act.

So, pair your extra aggression with timing down to really send some players on tilt.

Take action to plug poker leaks

Experiment with Aggressive, Tilt Inducing Play

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Get out there, up that aggression, and induce some tilt!  Drop down in stakes if you have to, but play just 2 tables max and look for every good, +EV opportunity to pour on the aggression.  Don’t just willy-nilly 3bet every hand or isolate every limper or open-raise every CO and BTN.  Think about the benefits of getting aggressive in this spot right now, and if it appears like a +EV play, do it.  Have a plan for how your opponents might choose to defend by calling or raising. Be prepared and plan ahead.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

Ernest Lay picked up PokerTracker 4, the best poker tracking software.  I love it and use it everyday!  In appreciation, I sent him a copy of my Smart HUD for PT4.  With an ever-growing database of hands to study and all the helpful features, PT4 is the go-to software for serious poker players.

Ferenc Kurilla and Jeff Standage bought the Smart HUD with a 1.5 hour webinar for PokerTracker 4.  It’s the best online poker HUD in the business, and you can get the Smart HUD by clicking here.


Sky Matsuhashi

Don’t Miss Out!

Get expert tips and strategies straight to your inbox each week!