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Be Selective and Aggressive

Selective and aggressive play separates winning poker players from consistent losers. There's not a single consistent winner who fails to practice this principle. Odds shift as cards are dealt across the table or across the Internet. Winning players recognize when they have the best of it, and they're determined to get more money in the pot when conditions are favorable. By the same token, they're extremely reluctant to commit chips to a hand when the odds don't favor them.

Aggression and selectivity generally don't walk hand in hand, so you'll need to learn when to come in with guns blazing and when to hunker down. If you're too aggressive, particularly when your cards don't warrant it, your opponents will eventually recognize your tendencies. They'll wait until they have better hands than yours, allow you to do their betting for them, then raise on late betting rounds to collect double bets when they have the best of it. On the other hand, if you're too passive, you won't win enough money with your good hands to overcome the hands you lose, the blinds, and the rake.

Remember this: Aggressive players have two ways to win a hand. The first is to wrest control of the pot by forcing opponents out. Your bet or raise might cause someone to release the hand that would have beat yours, had the hand been played to conclusion by all. Passive players - those who check and call most of the time - have only one way to win: presenting the best hand at showdown.

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