These days in no-limit Texas Hold’ em then if you have to choose between a passive route and an aggressive one then the aggressive route is usually best. Let us look at an example here to show what I mean. It has been limped by an early position player and it has then been folded around to you on the button with 5-5 and now you have to decide what to do. Do you limp or do you fold because of the poor implied odds? Well if you want to play the hand then with only one opponent in the pot why not take the aggressive route and raise?
This strives to take the initiative in the hand and often when you limp then a player behind you may try and take the initiative by raising and so your play is punished to a certain extent and so are your implied odds. I like raising over limping if I do decide to play the hand. Aggression is always rewarded in poker even though it may not be always rewarded in each individual hand that you play. Let us look at another situation and here we are playing in a six handed game.
It has been folded around to the hijack who open raises in a NL200 game and you have A-J on the button. Folding is definitely wrong and in stronger games then calling the raise can often be punished by a re-raise from one of the blinds. If you re-raise and that raise gets called by the original raiser then you know that they are not messing about as not only have they raised but they have also called the re-raise. Players with aces and kings will often just call the re-raise looking to trap over zealous aggressive players who are abusing their position.
So an opening raise followed by the calling of a re-raise is a powerful betting line and especially if the hand is heads up! Raising with the A-J also allows you to clarify where you stand in relation to other hands that are on the table. You ideally want to know if you are against AK or AQ. If you merely call the raise and the flop comes A-9-5 rainbow and you are out kicked against someone who has A-Q then you are going to lose a lot of chips here. You will expect your opponent to fire a c-bet regardless and so you cannot fold on the flop.
Likewise on the turn because most players will fire a second barrel on the turn if their flop bet gets called on a bluff. So this leaves the A-J hand in a difficult money losing situation. You cannot fold on the flop as that is too weak and probably would be too weak on the turn as well. So taking the aggressive route can often save you a lot of money in no-limit Texas hold’em by forcing other players to fold and also helping you to find out exactly where you are.