Poker requires the player to be accepting and ready to change their playing styles according to what the situation requires. One has to be constantly evolving as a player. However, some players tend to get lost on that track.
Everyone talks about having a “winning strategy” and numerous highlight reels of players folding second nuts and making very unconventional plays, can get you confused and mislead you to make a similar play which is beyond your capabilities or experience to pull off. This is the trap of fancy play syndrome. If you’ve gotten into doing this, then it’s time to get back to basics!
In this poker strategy blog, we’re going to be talking about what tight aggressive plays are and how to execute them!
1. Advantages of playing Tight Aggressive:
Playing tight aggressive is a tried and tested strategy and it also words because you’ll be playing strong hands and that’ll give an immediate advantage over your opponents. This also means that you’ll only be improving on the flop most of the time and betting for value than bluffing.
TAG means that you’re selectively playing only strong hands and playing them aggressively. This means that you should almost raise or bet every time, rather than just calling or checking.
Playing this way will get you value and win pots in two ways:-
- Getting your opponent to fold.
- Winning at showdown with the best hand.
This also means that you’ll be raising and building the pot with hopefully, the strongest hand. As a TAG, opening with standard 3x raises and adding a big to every limper is the right play. Everyone knows and has an opinion about opening raises and bet sizing, but sticking to standard raises, you won’t get folds from weaker players and the strong players won’t enter so cheaply.
Doyle Brunson says, “ If I could play every hand on the button I’d beat any game blind.” Poker is all about information and the more of it you have, the better chances you’ll have of making correct decisions. The button is the best position in the game for the same reason. You get to act last pre-flop, except the blinds, and you get to act last every street post-flop.
Playing out of position is always harder and keeps you guessing about the strength of your hand unless you hit a monster. For example, imagine that you have 5 6 suited on the button and 2 callers before you. You can flat call the raise and take a look at a flop with great equity and odds to hit a big hand. However, if you’re out of position, it’ll be almost impossible for you to guess what the player after you will do. Here is a list of positions in a 9 handed game:-
- Seats 1 & 2: Blinds
- Seats 3,4 & 5: Early position
- Seats 6 & 7: Mid position
- Seats 8 & 9: Late position
3. Early Position:
ABC strategy is simply meant to avoid being put into tough positions, where you’ll be forced into making harder decisions. If you’re in an early position, only play strong hands. We’ll recommend folding any hands less than A J suited and folding all pairs under 8 8.
If you’re tempted to play hands such as K Q suited, K J suited or Q J suited, think about what you’ll do if you get three-bet. Keeping it simple will help you to stay out of bloated pots and bad spots.
4. Middle Position:
You can start opening up your range when you’re in middle position. You’ll have some information about the players acting before you and only a couple of players to worry about after you. If you someone has raised preflop from early position, you need to think about what type of hands they are playing from early position. If they’re opening with a range of A J suited to 8 8 and above, you’ll be better off playing a tighter range and folding. If someone from early position has just called then you can limp along with hands that play well in multiway pots, like pairs and suited connectors.
5. Late Position:
Late position allows you to be more loose. You can play a variety of hands such as A 10 suited or K 10 suited and suited connectors. You can also freely open all pocket pairs as well!
You’ll notice that we’re still keeping a fairly tight range of hands that we’re playing – you’re looking to enter pots with the strongest hand. Stealing the blinds is still important – not as much as in tournaments obviously – but you shouldn’t be tempted to try to steal them with any two cards. If the blinds defend then you’re going to make things hard for yourself post-flop.
6. The Blinds:
Playing from the blinds is a tough spot. You get tempted to defend your blinds and play with an unnecessary wider range. This also puts you in a spot where you might even lose more money than you’d ever make.
Play the blinds with common sense. Defend your blinds when it’s cheap and fold them when they’re not. It’s better to defend your big blind with a wider range than the small blind.
7. Deviating from ABC:
ABC will work pretty well in small stakes cash games. Live games also tend to be weaker and ABC will work wonders there as well. The strategy is also very useful if you’re thinking behind someone with whom you’ve never played before.
However, experienced and good players will catch onto this and exploit your plays. If this happens, you can balance your game and add bluff raises or raising with small pairs and suited connectors out of position. This will help you stay out of trouble with hands such as K 10 suited which could be easily dominated in such situations. Also, you’re likely to have the best hand if you flop well with suited connectors.
Also, you can add information you’ve got on other players to your game. If you know that the players to your left are playing too tight you can open up your range in middle position. If you know they’re hyper-aggressive then you should stop limping and trying to get into pots cheaply.