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How to play a pre flop aggressor

One of the common situations in poker is when you’re required to call a pre-flop raise against the pre-flop aggressor. When this occurs, your opponent has taken the lead in the hand, so it can be difficult to put the other player on a hand and to know whether or not you have the best hand. This article is going to discuss the best way to play against a pre-flop aggressor.

The two biggest concepts that define how you should be playing the flop against a pre-flop raiser is your position in the hand and effective stack sizes. Your chip stack is important, but your opponent's chip stack is even more important, since it will dictate how they play the hand.

If the raiser has a small stack he or she will be forced to move all-in on the flop after making a large raise pre-flop. In this situation, you should be expecting your opponent to be doing this, so calling pre-flop with the aim of calling most any flop bet. When playing against larger stack sizes there is the possibility that the pre-flop raiser will check back the flop giving you the opportunity to take the pot away from them

There will be spots in poker where you will have to act first on the flop, such as when you’re playing in the blinds and call an open raise from a player in late position.

How to play the flop versus the pre-flop aggressor depends on the flop's board texture and the other player’s range and tendencies.

If the flop has improved your hand, quite often you should lead out with a bet between 1/2 and 2/3 the size of the pot because you likely have the best hand against a wide range that your opponent is raising from late position. This is commonly referred to as donk betting, which is often an under-utilized play in poker. By checking to the pre-flop aggressor, you risk them checking back when they have two big cards enabling them to realize their equity on the turn and hitting, when you could have taken down the pot on the flop.

There will be many flops which don’t improve your hand, and that of your opponents, for example when your opponent raised from late position, typically doing so with a really wide range to try and steal the blinds.

If you didn’t happen to hit anything on the flop, in a heads up situation I recommend betting out sometimes, especially against passive players that are likely to fold when they miss It’s much easier knowing how strong the pre-flop aggressor is when you’re playing the hand in late position, since they would have acted first.

 When acting in late position against a pre-flop raiser that hasn’t continuation bet, the most important things to consider are the flop board texture, your hand, and the reads on your opponent. Generally, when a player checks after raising before the flop it’s a sign of weakness and they’ve likely missed the flop, but reads will give you more confidence in knowing this.

 If the flop comes down with all low cards and your opponent bets out, you can be sure the flop likely missed your opponent more often, then when it would with a high card or two high cards, so you can get more creative in these spots. In this situation, consider calling or raising the bet with the plan of taking down the pot on later streets. Of course if the flop is all low cards and it’s checked to you, bet out and try to take down the pot straight away.