Cash game poker is all about controlled aggression and making the right decision. See what that says? Controlled aggression, not just aggression! If you play enough poker you will inevitably encounter the player who thinks they are playing loose-aggressive, but in reality they are just spewing chips all over the table. This is not controlled aggression, and if you are doing this, you are raising just to raise, which is a bad idea. You always want to have a plan.
Short handed 6-max cash games have become very popular, and in these games aggression can often be the difference between having a winning session and a losing one.
As stated earlier, you need to have a plan of action when you raise, a goal that you are trying to achieve by raising, whether its to take down a small pot pre-flop with a mediocre hand, or to build the pot with your monster holding. When playing 6-max games at different level, you will of course see a difference in the flow of the game and how it is played, but having a general set of guidelines to build off of is always a good idea!
Raise To Gain Position In The Hand
You always want to have the best position possible in a hand, and raising essentially gives you that. When you are the original raiser, you then get to see how everybody will act. While not actual position, having this better point of view can certainly help later on in the hand. You always want the most information possible, and raising will give that to you.
Raise To Narrow The Competition
When you make a pre-flop raise, you are weeding out the players with marginal hands, and will have a better idea of what you are up against. You always want to play against as few opponents as possible, and get heads up if you can. Playing heads up in a pot against someone will give you a lot of information as to how thy play, and you need to be able to remember that. You can also use your raise when in specific positions at the table to isolate yourself against someone you may think is a particularly weak player, or someone you have a great read on and can put them on a hand easily if they call.
Raise To Force Mistakes From Your Opponents
When a player can limp into a pot before the flop, their chip risk is very low, and they can do this with a wide range, which can make it difficult to put them on a hand. By raising, you increase the risk they must take, along with the pot size. Players who are new to the game get easily intimidated by raises, and will often make mistakes in big pots. The bigger you can make the pot, the more likely they are to make a mistake that results in a profit for you.
Raise To Put Your Opponents On Tilt
A lot of times players get into a comfort zone with the way the table is playing. They are able to limp in a lot and see a lot of flops. If you come to the table with a high level of aggression, you will find that you can tilt these players. They are expecting to be able to play a number of cheap hands, and will get frustrated with having to limp-fold. Poker is a game of adjustments, and when people can not make them, they go on tilt, that is your goal here. Again, do not raise aimlessly, make sure you have a good handle on what is going on at your table.
A player can really control a table with aggression, especially in the 6-max game where you are facing far less opponents in each hand. Practice controlled aggression, and watch your bankroll climb.