The style of poker that has become popular to play these days, particularly online, is the super loose, bet every hand before the flop, after the flop, on the turn, on the river, play any two cards, type of poker. Probably originating with European players, this ‘play anything’ style can be confusing and hard to play against. However, a tight-aggressive style of play will always be the way to combat this and remain profitable.
First off, playing tight will generally get you into trouble, especially in online games. If I hear a player say they only want to play their best cards, then I know that they are not an excellent player and their hands can probably be predicted quite easily. If the player wants to win at poker, playing tight probably isn’t the best approach.
On the other hand, playing poker tight will generally allow you to win big pots, especially in no limit games. The real benefit of playing poker tight is that this is the only way to play against new players or weaker players without revealing your hand. If you play loose you can lose huge pots to people who play mediocre hands, but at low limit tables you can still take cash quite well.
Playing tight-aggressive and avoiding bad beats are the two best strategies to use to win at poker. When you play tight you are control of the hand, your opponents are on the edge of their seat, and it becomes that much easier to pick up extra chips once in a while from shy players. When you play loose, players can outplay you on the river, and become fairly predictable. Although, if you do play tight aggressive you can still take some chips, especially if you are playing the lower limits. Also, playing tight allows you to play confident, play more cheap hands, and pick up wins when you hit the occasional monster hand.
For anyone who wants to win at poker, playing tight-aggressive is the way to go. When you play tight, you are Dog-Betting at -150, the equivalent of about half a unit. When you play this way the only thing that can beat you is a big raise, and you can always re-raise most times to get your opponents to fold, giving you a very strong semi-bluffing tool. You can also slow play small connectors and call/raise with low pairs.
For example, You’re in the Big Blind with the Q-J off suit. The player under the gun shoves all-in, and you make the call. Everyone else folds. What are your odds here? The number of hands that can beat you? Four. So, you’re only about 8% to win. If you hit your hand, then you become a lot more aggressive with your big pair. You cannot slow play this hand, eliminate opponents, and wait for a big raise to be very selective about the hands that you will play aggressively pre-flop.
Instead, you want to gamble against loose opponents and try to steal the blinds. This is the essence of the tight-aggressive style of play. Being aggressive pre-flop and being aggressive on the flop are contradictory directions. However, you want to be aggressive pre-flop because it Joins you to having a better hand than your opponents, a situation that is very profitable. Consider this – Players don’t make a continuation bet (a.k.a. blind steal) very often. When they do, they are usually attempting to steal the blinds, or trying to make a strategic move to pick up the blinds in a later position. If you call a bet on the flop and the texture of the flop is favorable to you (i.e., it’s a rainbow flop), it is very profitable to check/fold on the turn because at that point, you will have position on your opponents and will be in the lead in the tournament.
Making these small adjustments will help you to win at sit and go tournaments. Think about what these adjustments will do for your game, and how it will help you to win your next tournament. Don’t you want to be the player that makes the final table?