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There are several different types of players you will encounter at the poker tables. As I discussed in my last post the vast majority of the players you will encounter are recreational players or Rec Players. However, other player types are lurking in your card rooms and home games.

The next player type I want to discuss is the Alpha Male. How do you identify the Alpha Male? Usually, it isn’t that hard, they are typically just a Rec Player who is extremely loose and aggressive (LAG), thinks they can bulldoze the table, and that unbridled aggression is the way to play poker. Therefore the question becomes how do we exploit this mindset?

The first thing we need to do is identify the Alpha Male. Alpha Males can come in all shapes and sizes but generally, they tend to be younger, but not always, and sit at the table with a lot of bravado and a cockiness to them that is palpable. 

Unlike the Rec Player, the Alpha Male has never met a board he didn’t want to bluff at. This is obviously their Achilles Heel, and thus easily exploitable. Since they approach the game with reckless abandon expect to play massive pots with them so be prepared to have a strong hand when entering a pot against them.

Along with having a propensity for bluffing Alpha Males are also notoriously sticky, and do not want to be bluffed off of a hand. This combined with their aggression when they have the betting lead makes for an easily exploitable situation.

The main thing to do against an Alpha Male is to not change YOUR game plan but adapt it to exploit their weakness (as should be your plan against any player type).

The best way to exploit an Alpha Male is to make sure you are playing a solid range in position against them, as much as possible, and go for value against them. Liberally value bet them on the small side when you have a strong but not invincible hand to bleed them but strategically ramp up aggression with stronger hands.

Expect them to play back from time to time as there is nothing an Alpha Male likes less than being on the wrong end of aggression or being perceived as possibly being weak. 

They will also pounce on any perceived sign of weakness, so tread carefully with light C-bets and floats as the price of poker will certainly go up if they smell the slightest bit of fear.

The main weapon in the Alpha Male’s arsenal is the bluff shove, which they will use liberally. The key is to recognize this early and proceed with caution. When you have the proper range and equity playing against an Alpha Male will be profitable but be cautious as it can also be volatile when they run down your hand that was ahead.

If you find yourself out of position against the Alpha Male small probe bets (¼ to ⅓ pot-sized bets) can be used to determine their interest in a given board. Continue for small sizing with your stronger 1-pair holdings as they will not typically raise their weaker pairs, they save bluffs for their air balls. 

However, one of the best tools to use against an Alpha Male is the OOP check with the top of our range, 2-pair, sets, straights, and flushes. These checks will, more often than not, be seen as weakness and thus too tempting for the Alpha Male to resist. Their instinct is to bet large or shove since this will work a lot against most Rec Players. Rec Players rarely play back, even with strong hands so Alpha Males have been conditioned to bet large when checked to, allowing them to “steal” pots. However, we will use our checks against them to set up check-raises or call their shoves with the confidence we will often be ahead.

By exercising good hand selection, positional awareness, and discipline there is no reason you can not easily exploit the Alpha Male’s reckless loose aggressive style to your benefit.