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Many players do not think of what is poker initiative. One can find various interpretations of the term, but the essence will be almost the same:
Poker initiative is a game situation when a player takes more aggressive actions than the other participants.
The player's aggressive actions, as a rule, mean that they have a strong hand. When a player was the last who committed an aggressive action in the last betting round, then they say that "the player has an initiative". For example, if Player 1 made a bet, Player 2 raised, and Player 1 called this raise, then the poker initiative would be taken by the Player 2.
Below there are some typical examples:
As you can see, there's nothing complex here. The main essence of the poker initiative is that it belongs to that very player who was the last to commit an aggressive action. Thus, if your last action was a check or a call, then you do not have an initiative in the betting round.
Obviously, it's better to take an initiative on pre-flop when you are in late position because you can make a decision on post-flop after the actions of the remaining players in the betting round. To take an initiative in a poker round, you need to use standard methods: open raise, 3bet, 4bet, squeeze, etc.
All other players, who want to continue the draw and look at the community cards, will be left without initiative and will be forced to defend. As we know, an attack is the best form of defense. Thus, the concept of the initiative in poker proves the importance of aggressive pre-flop play for success in later rounds of betting.
There are also cases where none of the players raised preflop (ie, just called the big blind), then nobody will have an initiative in this round, so any player who shows the most aggression on the flop will be able to get it.
Poker players who do not know about the concept of the initiative in poker use it intuitively while playing.
You can always notice the following situation. Player 1 and Player 2 called on pre-flop, and then Player 3 raised, which was called by Players 1 and 2. Since Player 3 was the last to show aggression on pre-flop, the initiative in the betting round will be on their side, and in the vast majority of cases Players 1 and 2 will prefer to check on the flop, waiting for the decision of Player 3. Obviously, a player with an initiative in poker gets control in the betting round.
In fact, it is very important to have an initiative in poker, because in the subsequent rounds of betting the game will be built on the actions of a player with the initiative. For example, with your aggression on preflop, you demonstrate to all other players at the table that you have a strong hand, so your opponents will play much more carefully against you and will often simply check, so you can continue to attack.
As a rule, the one with initiative sets the pace of the round. Moreover, taking the poker initiative on pre-flop can give you an opportunity to win the pot even before the opening of flop cards.
From the information above you should already be aware that in order to take the initiative, you need to play your hand aggressively from the very beginning of the game. However, if one of the players has seized the initiative on pre-flop, this does not mean that they can certainly save it until the very end of the draw. What techniques help us to snatch the poker initiative?
If you are out of position, then you can snatch the initiative in a poker game in one of two ways:
If you are in position, then you most likely will face a continued bet from the player with the initiative. In this case, there is only one way to snatch the poker initiative: to raise.
A player with initiative can continue to exert pressure on other players in subsequent rounds of betting. For example, many players without sufficient playing experience prefer to immediately give in on an ace flop responding to continued bet of a player with initiative. This is based on the assumption that since the latter raised preflop, they will almost always have an ace. This is because it is difficult for opponents to assess the range of the aggressor’s hands, so they just fold their cards, taking the simplest solution out of all possible.
A player without an initiative will often face complex decisions in the course of the game, while a player with an initiative will simply press their opponents and knock them out of the pot. The poker initiative can give a huge advantage because you can show opponents that you have a strong combination and make them fold even without a strong hand.
Also it is worth noting, that you should not abuse aggression at the tables to get the initiative in poker. Everything needs a balance.
Undoubtedly, the initiative is one of the main things, without knowledge of which it will be difficult to achieve good results in poker. Learning to correctly apply it is also important, as well as learning how to take advantage of the position at the table, so go to poker tables and train, as there is nothing more useful than practice.
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