ONE OF THE best ways to understand the importance of aggressive play is to look at it from the other side of the table.
If you are a calling station, you are allowing your opponents to control the size of the pot, which not only gives them the chance to make their hands at their price but also prevents you from forcing them to define their hand ranges.
Such a style can become even more expensive when facing a loose-aggressive opponent such as Bertrand Grospellier, who played this hand in the $25,000-buy-in World Poker Tour Championship, at Las Vegas' Bellagio in 2009.
With blinds at $50-$100, Grospellier opened for $300 with K-2 suited under the gun.
"We were $100,000 deep with starting stacks, so I decided to open with whatever," said Grospellier, a past WPT winner. "I open a lot of hands. King-deuce is definitely near the bottom of my range. It's not a good hand. But when you're really deep and people play bad poker, you can see if you can catch something."
The player in Seat 2 called, as did two players behind him and both blinds. The flop came Q-2-3, two spades, giving Grospellier bottom pair and the second-nut flush draw.
After the blinds checked, Grospellier bet $1,125. The player in Seat 2 called. Everyone else folded.
"He can have spades or a queen," Grospellier said. "He could have a pair. Actually, he could have a lot of hands because he's a calling station."
The turn came the 7 of diamonds, which didn't help Grospellier, but he made it $2,125 anyway.
"The reason I led out on the turn was that he bets a lot if you check to him," said Grospellier, one of the pros from the PokerStars online site. "If I checked, I didn't want him to bet $5,000 or something. I want to see the river card. But not for that much. By betting what I bet, I made the pot grow, but not too much. So, if I hit my river card, it's good. It's a way of controlling the size of the pot, and it's less likely that he puts me on a flush draw if I keep on leading out."
Seat 2 called, and the river came the 4 of spades, completing Grospellier's flush. He bet out $6,625. Seat 2 raised to $20,000.
"His raise was really bad because I'm never going to call him with a worse hand than him," Grospellier said. "If the hand happened later in the day, I probably would've reraised him because I know he would've called me even with two pair. But at that time, I wasn't sure about the guy."
Grospellier called and took the pot when his opponent showed pocket queens for a set.
"He played the hand really weird because he just called when he was ahead and raised me when he was behind," Grospellier said.
Blinds: Forced bets before the cards are dealt, meant to promote action.