“Starting requirements? We don’t need no stinkin’ starting requirements!”
We don’t need to spend a lot of time on opening hands for this style, since there are none. A super-aggressive player is quite capable of opening with any two cards, in any position, at any time. That’s what makes this style so exciting to watch, albeit dangerous to play.
The idea of the super-aggressive style is to play a lot of pots and see a lot of flops, cheaply. Because a super-aggressive player can play a lot of hands from a lot of different positions, his opponents can’t easily look at the flop and tell if it is dangerous for them or not. When facing a conservative player, a flop of
6♥ 4♦ 3♠
is almost certainly harmless. Against a super-aggressive player, you could be facing a straight, two pair, or a set.
Super-aggressive players decide whether or not to enter a pot in two ways. Of course, they’ll come in with two cards that represent solid value. But even if their hand doesn’t have solid value, they might still enter the pot if the other elements of their position are favorable. Have a lot of players already folded? Will they have position after the flop? Are the players behind them weak or intimidated? Do the players behind them have smallish stacks? Are the players behind them playing conservatively?
If the answers to these questions are mostly yes, then a super-aggressive player might take any two cards and make a move, figuring he could win in three ways:
- No one calls and he takes the blinds right
- Someone calls, but he hits the flop and wins with the better
- Someone calls, and he misses the flop, but bluffs his opponent out
To succeed with this approach, you must be observant and imaginative. It’s a highly demanding style, but its most successful practitioners, players like Gus Hansen, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Ivey, have enjoyed great success recently.
The main advantage of the super-aggressive style is that you play, and have a chance to win, a lot of pots. At a table of weak players, whether active or passive, simply getting in the pot is advantageous, and the super-aggressive style is probably optimal for that situation. The disadvantages of the style are the energy required and the danger courted. You’re always dancing on the edge, always facing tough decisions, and mostly you’re holding weak cards. All the delicate maneuvering required is tiring, and a tired player is more likely to blunder at some point.