The Weekly Poker Mantra

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

What's Your No-Limit Hold'em Strategy? Tight Aggressive vs. Loose Aggressive.

If you've been playing no-limit hold'em poker for a while then you've probably heard the expression "Tight is right", but is it really?  What is the correct poker strategy to adopt?  Whether you play in cash games or tournaments you will need to decide what your approach to the game will be.

Are you missing out on taking down some of those pots that you could lay claim to because you're playing too tight?  Or is tight truly right and the loose aggressive card players are dooming themselves with their reckless tendencies?
Let's examine some of the pros and cons for each style of play and see what we can discover;

Loose Aggressive: 
(raising many pots without as much concern for pre-hand selection - may also involve betting and raising out of position or raising from the blinds)

1- You will probably get more action on your premium hands.
2- Poker tends to favour the aggressor and this style is aggressive more often.
3- You will get more comfortable playing a wide range of holdings post flop.
4- You will create more opportunities to steal pots.
5- It will be difficult for your opponents to put you on a hand (provided your pre-flop raises are similar for both strong and speculative holdings).
6- It's less boring than waiting for cards.
7- Players may be less anxious to enter a pot with you.  You may put them off their game with your relentless bets and raises.
8- You will get more practiced at knowing when you can bluff and when you're beat.
9- You will win a fair share of pots with the worst hand.
10- Seven deuce off-suit can be your friend.

1- Your raises might not get as much respect if you are raising frequently.
2- You are more vulnerable to being trapped.
3- If others at the table are running really well then you could bust out in a hurry.
4- Your chip stack and probably your bankroll will take more volatile swings.
5- You are more likely to end up with the worst hand in a showdown.
6- You might be called a donkey more often.
7- By loosening your pre-hand selection you may be hurting your discipline.
8- You will bleed chips.
9- It's easier to trap yourself against players that are incapable of folding.
10- It's a very precarious style of play and probably won't be successful over the long run if used exclusively.

Tight Aggressive:
(raising and betting in profitable situations preferably in position with the best possible holdings)

1- Your raises will generally get more respect.
2- Your chip stack shouldn't take as many volatile swings.
3- You will learn to be patient.
4- You will get into less trouble by only playing quality holdings.
5- You will stop any chip bleeds or leaks in your game.
6- When you do need to bluff you may be given more credit for having a hand.
7- You won't be called a donkey as much.
8- The loose aggressive players will sometimes donate large amounts of chips to you when they are betting into the nuts.
9- Generally when you use this style it is harder to go on tilt.
10- Over the long run you will be giving yourself the best possible chance to win. (that being said everyone needs to bluff sometimes to win)

1- By playing a tighter range of hands it may be easier for your opponents to read you.
2- Your premium hands may get less action.
3- You won't get as much experience playing a variety of hands post flop.
4- There will be less opportunities to steal pots.
5- If the good hands never come you could get blinded out particularly if you are playing too tight.
6- Because the game is so aggressive these days it may be easier for loose aggressive players to walk all over you.
7- It may be tougher for you to win tournaments or adjust to heads up play.
8- Taking bad beats may seem worse if you've waited patiently for a premium hand to play.
9- You might fall asleep waiting for a playable hand.
10- You will never know the joy of getting someone to fold AK when you hold 72 offsuit.

Well I do hope that this list offers you some food for thought when it comes to no-limit strategy.  Of course every situation that you run into at the card table may call for a different approach or a combination of  different styles.  I would never suggest that someone should adopt a passive tight playing style, however perhaps in certain situations this could be profitable too...The best teacher of all is experience so my suggestion is to try a style that is out of your comfort zone and perhaps you'll learn something new.

I am very anxious to get a discussion going on this topic with readers and I hope that you will contribute in the comment area.  What do you think is the best strategy?  Loose aggressive, tight aggressive or something else altogether.


  1. Nice blog you have here! It's inspiring to read about your journey from nothing to something. It sounds like you've made some solid progress as well. I will continue to read and watch your progress on the tables. I've added a link to your blog on my site as well. Cheers.

  2. Mix up play with position (this works REAL well in live casinos also). Helps if you start out with a Set of KKs, last hand played - Ac4c, value betting your flush draw, and that third club hits the river, while Live Villain makes a straight.

    Also, sometimes LAG, and sometimes TAG, can mess up those Hud statistics (math and observing your opponent are real good friends).

    Different strategies for different situations. Cash Game? Tight Table? Definitely loosen up the starting hand requirements in mid to late position. Omaha Hi/Lo Pot limit Cash game? Juicy and loose? Tighten up, and get the scoop, or usually 3/4s the pot.

    On someone's blog, they were surprised to be taken down by a person with VPIP of 80. Those Huds aren't always realistic (especially if Villain just got some coaching following his tilting). So the RIGHT plays are more important than whether you Lag or Tag.

  3. Thanks for the great comments guys. Keep em coming. Of course I agree with you Future the Right plays at the right time are ultimately more important, but I was hoping for a heated Lag vs. Tag debate! lol...

  4. In my opinion you have to be a TAG. A very important part, though, is your read on your opponents at the table. If you're sitting in the cut-off and think you'll either win the blinds or get a call and be able to take it down with a c-bet, you can raise about any two cards. While this is not waiting for premium holdings, it is definitely using your position, which I think is paramount in NL Holdem.

    Nice blog, I'll be following.