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In every reference book of poker, I have found that the more exploitive strategy against a loose player is to play tight. Conversely, the more exploitive strategy against a tight player is to play loose.

We can think about this: if we play tight because we are facing a loose player, the loose player, following the theory, has to play loose to exploit us.

Conversely, if we play loose against a tight player, the tight player has to play tight in order to exploite our strategy. From my point of view, this is a sort of paradox.

Who can explain this to me a bit better?

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4 Answers 4

It's not a paradox. Loose and tight are distinct concepts from aggressive and passive. Loose/tight refers to how many hands a player plays. Aggressive/passive refers to how he plays them, specifically whether he tends to bet more or call more. A player who folds too much to aggression is called weak. Thus, there are many combinations of styles that you can encounter and will have to adjust to. A player can for instance simultaneously be aggressive and weak. Conversely, there are more dials to tweak when you need to adjust to different playing styles.

Good players are usually aggressive (ie. they tend to bet more than they call) but can be both loose and tight. Passive play (tending to call more than they bet) is usually but not always indicative of a bad player.

Against an overly aggressive player, you should bet less and call more to induce him to keep betting weak hands when you have him beat. This is psychologically difficult to do, because subconsciously you want to 'punish' him by raising when you finally have a strong hand against him. But this will only allow him to escape, as the strength of your hand becomes transparent. Whether or not you should adjust your range is a difficult question to answer. If your opponent is routinely goes too far and bets his weak hands on all streets, I would try to play as many hands as possible against him, because the implied odds more than make up for the many times you will have to fold when your hand doesn't connect.

Against someone who is overly passive, you adjustment should be based on whether they fold too much or too little. Against a passive player who folds too little, play straight-forwardly: Bet when you have a hand, check when you have nothing. In other words, a TAG strategy works best here. Against tight-passive players, play lots of hands and bet all the time (become a LAG).

To summarize: It's not enough to ask if a certain player is tight or loose. You also have to ask whether he is aggressive or passive. The answer to too much aggression is passivity, but the answer to too much passivity is certainly not just more (blind) aggression. Aggression is the answer to weakness (tendency to fold too much) and tightness (playing fewer hands) is usually the answer to looseness. Tight-aggressive play is the style that is the hardest to exploit, but it may not be the one that wins the most money.

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TAG/LAG is all relative to the mathematical sub games. If a guy is an over aggressive calling station in 3bet pots then you need to craft a thorough strategy to exploit that specifically. This would probably involve opening smaller and less often so that your range has a much higher percentage of monsters while losing less on the weak part of your range...still being able to get him to stack off even though the 3b pots are smaller (cause hes over aggro and stationy).

If a guy is tight but check raising a lot of turns after weak action, then you have to craft a different holistic strategy to combat that. This would probably involve cbetting at a normal frequency, while 2 barrel-calling turns with a wider range (or checking back half of the strong part of your range).

The terms TAG and LAG mean nothing except when applied to the sub-game at hand along with combinatorial and frequency analysis. Some situations call for fighting fire with fire, some not.

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I think we should not consider heads up match here, when players are "tuning" their style to the opponent. This approach is reasonable against the average field. For example, if you play on a tight table, the aggressive style is beneficial, and on the contrary being neat is profitable against "loose" table on the average.

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The books your are reading are telling you to play this way as it will help you to exploit these kind of players and its correct.

Its not telling you how they need to react to counter your play style.

If you are playing against a tight player you can definately open up your range a lot more and make aggressive plays. If they miss the flop then they are likely to fold and you win the hand uncontested.

If you are playing a looser player then you should try and only call with your premium hands and when you get them play them aggressively. If you call with AA and there is an Ace on the flop, chances are that a loose player is going to try and represent that Ace not knowing that you have got him dominated. So you are going to get a lot more value out of them. In this situation you can just call there raises as they are likely to keep c-betting. Then on the river shove (assuming you havent let any draws in) and you are likely to get paid off.

If they are an intelligent player and think you have a tight image, any sign of aggression should make them realise that you have a monster. The majority of the time though this isnt the case and you can take their stacks easily by sticking to your game.

So in conclusion you want them to play loose against you when you are playing tight because that is how you will get the most value out of them. If they are tight and showing aggression then you know that you should let the hand go and wait for a better spot.

Hope this helps in some way.

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