Recent Posts

Get Playing Online Poker! 9 Tips From The Pros That Really Work

by Lee Davy

“What do I want to do with my life?” I bet you have had that question rattling around in the dusty recesses of your mind for quite sometime right?

Let me guess.You don’t want a boss because you hate authority, you don’t want to work very hard… because… who does right?Getting dressed and leaving the home is not so much as a drag, but a complete write off in terms of costs, the thought of attending an interview scares you to death, and you don’t really know too much about anything, and everyone new in the world of business always starts out on the lowest rung on the ladder meaning lots of work for minimal pay.

Does that sound about right?

Well have you ever heard of online poker? We present you with nine online poker strategy tips from nine different people who had the same question swimming around in their head and found the solution to their troubles on their computer, tablet and mobile phone.

1. Volume

If you want to become great at anything then there needs to be the right blend of dedication, motivation, skill, willingness to learn from your mistakes and sheer volume.

Sam Grafton believes volume is one of the most important concepts any new online poker player should grasp if they want to earn a decent wedge at the table.

“Volume is the key. If you look at all the best players: Phil Galfond, Chris Moorman, Chris Brammer – there was at least one point in their careers where they put in huge volume. Sadly there’s no substitute for hard work.” – Sam Grafton

2. Time Management

If you have ever played Football Manager, Tomb Raider or Resident Evil you will understand the power the video game has over your senses. Normal sensible people are dissolved into agoraphobic crazies as the game consumes their lives for months on end.

Surprisingly, this type of behaviour doesn’t necessarily bode well with those ‘other people’ who are crucial to your life – a point that Paul Zimbler believes is important to note if you want to make online poker an important part of your life.

“You need to play within your means and manage the time you spend playing wisely. It’s all about finding that right blend of work, rest and play.” – Paul Zimbler.

3. Routine

Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘familiarity breeds contempt?’

Well in online poker that phrase has been changed to ‘familiarity breeds cracking online poker players.’

I’m not talking about learning the game in a generic kind of way. Instead, I am talking about moving online poker into your life in a routine sort of way. Turn everyday into a ritual. Tell your brain to expect the expected and slowly but surely you will get into that pokercadian rhythm.

Super High Roller star Philipp Gruissem concurs.

“You need to prepare properly and get into a routine. It doesn’t matter if that routine means eating, sleeping, getting errands done, showering, turning your technological distractions off… whatever you need to get into gear and focus. I always make a bulletproof coffee mix for example.” – Philipp Gruissem.

4. Start Small

Always remember that the giant Oak that pulled the kids out of the window and ate them in Poltergeist started life as a tiny, innocent looking acorn.

Great achievements take time, something that John Eames knows only too well.

“If you are just starting out in the online poker world then play for tinier amounts than you might want to. The little monster in your head will be telling you to play higher, but if you do you will probably lose too much too quickly and give up. So if you deposit $20, don’t immediately play for $20, play for $2 or something similar, and give yourself a chance to gain experience,” – John Eames.

5. The Right Equipment

Everyone knows the importance of making sure your equipment is in good working order, but do you have the right equipment to start out with?

When you start out in the online poker world you probably have no idea that there are technological ways to improve your game. Something that Bodo Sbrzesny thinks is an important point to understand.

“Make sure that you experiment with your equipment until you find something you are comfortable with. Take your screen view for example. I play with a black table background layout and coloured cards for maximum overview. The card backside is bright and this helps me understand how many players are in the hand. I hide all other unimportant stuff like avatars which takes my focus away from the hand.” – Bodo Sbrzesny.

6. Never Play Tired

You will know within yourself that the best levels of performance you have delivered in any area of your life have come when you have been full of energy. It’s admirable to stay awake for 48-hrs at a stretch but not very advisable as Richard Trigg explains.

“You should never play when you are tired and I have learned this the hard way. I find when I am tired I start telling myself off and going on tilt. I also find that at the extreme I start to not care if I win or lose just because I want to go to bed. So stay sharp, prepare and make sure you are full of energy and focused when you play. “ – Richard Trigg.

7. The Right Mindset

The greatest thing about online poker is you can play it whenever you want, but this doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to use it as a vehicle to blow off some steam after arguing with the dragon.

I will let Mathew Frankland explain…

“You should only play when you’re in a good frame of mind. You should never force yourself to play, and if you get this feeling then switch off and do something else. It’s so difficult to make decent folds when you are slouched down in your chair wishing you were on a desert island somewhere.” – Mathew Frankland.

8. Relax

The online poker-sphere can be an intimidating place for someone who is new to the game. There are so many bells, whistles, lights and colours that you could be forgiven you are at a fairground.

Take a deep breath and relax…

“The first time you play poker online can be intimidating. There are so many buttons to press and more exciting noises than a Vegas Casino! Just relax. Don’t try to play every pot, or bluff every hand. Patience is a virtue, the longer you’re initial deposit lasts you; the more experience you will get. The more experience you get; the higher your win rate. This comes ‘full circle’ enabling you to play more with your money, and hopefully win a bunch of Wonga!” – James Sudworth.

9. Pay Attention

Technology has become such an ingrained part of our life that your good lady can be forgiven for tweeting whilst you are on the nest.

It’s become a part of life to wake up and check your e-mail before kissing those that matter to you.

This can be a disaster for an online poker player as Matt Ashton explains.

“Pay attention. Every bit of information you can take in is very valuable for the learning process. Watching every bet and thinking why each person is doing what they’re doing is great for considering how to play your own hands in future and for getting reads for the present. I think too many players fail to use their downtime between hands to continue learning from others.” – Matt Ashton.

 

9 Reasons Why You Should Be Playing Online Poker

by Lee Davy

Poker gets a bad rap from time to time, but at the heart of all the begging, cheating and borrowing lies a game that continues to stand the test of time.

Why?

Because people absolutely love it.

Here are 9 reasons why you should be playing online poker instead of reading this load of old nonsense.

1. You Never Have to Leave Your Bed

Let’s be honest.

How many of you hate getting up in the morning?

How many of you feel like your eyelids are being ripped apart when the alarm drills into your earhole with the alacrity of a howling cat?

Online poker players don’t have to get out of bed. They don’t have an alarm clock. Half of them even sleep with their laptops (I’m not even joking). No need to move, no need to brush your teeth. None of that annoying crap. Just roll over, open up your little baby, log on and start registering.

2. People Become Your Slaves

With just one five-minute break per hour, online poker players don’t have time for trivial things such as cooking, eating or breathing. They are far too busy focusing on 24-tables to have time for any of that old nonsense.

So they hire own slaves.

For the young grinders this slave is your mother. She makes you food, brings you refreshments and some of them even feed you. For the middle-aged grinders they have their wives, husbands and children. The only people who are screwed in this regards are the single. Get a life.

3. It’s a Social Leveler

Life it pretty tough.

It doesn’t matter what our values are there is a societal hierarchy that puts each one of us into our place from a very young age. There are bullies and people who get bullied. There are extroverts and there are introverts. There are people who get chosen first to join the football team, and there are those that seemingly have their back glued to the gym wall.

It’s tough.

But it’s life.

Not in the online poker world. In this world you can be whomever you choose. Do you want to be The Rock from WWE wrestling? Go for it. Do you want to be Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones? Why not. Do you want to be Beyoncé Knowles? Shake it girl.

Nobody can see you.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about.

4. Be a Chat Room Bully

Do you have arms like sticks? Can you see your ribs underneath your translucent skin? Did you get bullied as a child? Were you not tough enough?

The rules of engagement are different online. When the gloves come off it’s your fingers that do the damage – not your knuckles.

Do you think someone just played a hand like a fish? Tell them…. feel the exhilaration. Get it off your chest.

Be the chat room bully you have always wanted to be.

5. You Don’t Have to Get a Real Job

Online poker isn’t just a fun game to play; the very best can actually earn some money… real money.

Imagine being able to play poker for a living. It would mean you wouldn’t have to get a real job.

What better incentive is there than that?

6. No National Insurance or Tax

Ok… so this rule only applies in certain countries, but if you are living in one of those countries then BOOM!

There is a reason the rich and the famous bugger off to tax havens. They like to keep their hard earned cash. If you are living in a country that doesn’t tax poker winnings, and poker is your job, then is there any better feeling in the world?

This is why the UK has such a diverse culture. They are all online poker players.

7. You Can Blame Variance When You Are Crap

One of the beauties of the intricate mix of skill and luck in poker is the ability to tell lies.

When you know you are crap, and don’t want to harm your ego, just tell everyone that you are losing because of variance.

It works for me.

8. You Can Tell Everyone You Are Great When in Fact You are Just a Luckbox

The great thing about poker is in the short-term luck wears the crown.

This means you can be a complete and utter imbecile and still develop the belief that you are amazing. Some people even get so lucky that they develop careers spanning 30-years, never get any better, and still win enough money to keep up the charade that they actually know what they are doing.

9. You Don’t Have to Talk to Anyone

Let’s be honest here, we can count the people who we talk to, and are interesting, on one hand. How much time do you waste in work, or socially, listening to absolute nonsense about nonsense you just don’t care about?

Well if you play online poker you don’t have to talk to anyone and you can still earn a living.

Anyone except your slave I guess…

 

Differences Between Online and Live Poker

by Paul Seaton

It’s an age-old discussion in poker. What is the best way to succeed at the game we all love – playing live or grinding online? Well, many professional players mix both and are able to succeed across two very different disciplines. So how do you go from crushing dreams across the virtual felt to ousting live players without batting an eyelid? We’ll help you identify the areas you should focus on by highlighting the differences between online and live poker.

Speed of Play

The first major difference between playing online and sitting down in a bricks-and-mortar casino is the number of hands you’ll see during play. In an hour of playing poker at one online table, you’ll likely up to 100-120 hands. Even at a fast-paced table in a casino tournament, you’ll be lucky to see more than 40 hands in the same timeframe.

A frequent leak from online players is that after multi-tabling for 10 hours at home, adapting to the comparatively slow play at a live table will frustrate them. If this is you, make sure that you don’t get distracted by only have nine players to focus on, instead putting all your energy into working out which players demonstrate the strengths and weakness that you take advantage of online. If you’re predominantly a live specialist looking to add online success to your CV, make sure that you use the same game selection that you would face with two tournaments at opposite ends of the country to choose from. Working out what is the best game for you to play online and where you have the biggest edge is vital.

Location, Location, Location

It can be a thrilling experience to win around $25,000 by taking down the $150K Guaranteed in your favourite pair of jogging bottoms and hoodie. But winning live trophies often gives a good player great promotion, with headlines, news articles and that classic trophy photograph projecting a player from solid to spectacular, potential pro to badged-up ambassador. It really can happen very quickly, so the advantages of dueling it out in the live arena are plenty. However, there’s no better way to analyse your own game and iron out weaknesses along with building a bankroll to cope with the live elements than by putting in the hours online. Your profit margin can be grown with volume to build up a stash of fund that is able to cope with the travel expenses that joining the live circuit demands.

It isn’t just the financial and recognition areas in which there are massive differences between the online lifestyle and the live tour. There is a social element to getting dressed up and meeting your poker friends face-to-face that no amount of social media, video communication or mobile phone calls at 3am can replicate. It’s fun to put faces to names rather than online avatars to chat box banter, so don’t be afraid of breaking up a successful online career with time outside, if only for the natural light your poker face probably craves! Likewise, playing in casinos every day would be demanding to even the most gregarious of party animals, and online poker can become a source of fun as well as finance. There is a therapeutic feeling behind many of the processes behind online success, so embrace it!

Two’s Company, Three’s a Live Table

One thing you see a lot more of at a live game is opponents. Not in terms of numbers, as the opposite is true with online tournaments getting thousands of runners, but in pots themselves. Many more pots go multi-way at a live table as opposed to online, where you’ll frequently be heads-up to the flop or even pre-flop with all-in and call situations before a community card is dealt much more common. This may mean that you need to modify your tactics as a consequence. Live games are much easier to get involved in pots for less and there is less pressure to raise than online. You’re also less likely to be ‘squeezed’ when you’re eyeballing your enemy, and can exercise more control multi-way than you would be able to online. If you’re at the mercy of a digital deal against a sole opponent, then factor in their range and learn to multi-table to give yourself the best chance of a comparable edge.

Attack vs Defence

Live and online players are very different, and using this to your advantage can not only win you plenty of money, but also make your experience a more enjoyable one. Live players are typically a little looser than online players at much lower buy-in levels, so take advantage of loose/passive types by ramping up aggression when it matters. Online, players are tighter and more aggressive. They also mix up their ranges better in general than live players; put simply, if you identify a player as loose live who has a certain range, that’s probably how they’ll stay until either you or they leave the table. Online, players can switch it up easier – they haven’t got to look into anyone’s doubting eyes while they do it and can disguise without giving away physical tells. Online players will normally be more discerning about when they commit all-in for 50-100 big blinds whereas a top pair, top kicker can be enough for many inexperienced live players.

There is a famous example of an older live player once claiming that a young player should show him more respect because he had ‘played more hands than him’ by playing the game for over twenty years. The truth is, as the youngster was only too happy to point out, the sheer volume of hands you can rack up online proves that statement to be wrong more often than not.

Be careful about how you identify players live and online on this basis, and never assume anything 100%. Before long, you’ll be mixing it with the best!

 

Understanding and Exploiting LAGs

exploit poker lags

What is a LAG?

LAG stands for “Loose-Aggressive”. These players have a tendency to play a wide range of hands preflop (significantly wider than a TAG – tight aggressive). LAGs will follow up this preflop wild aggression with even more postflop aggression.

To properly assess a LAG player, we can use the following statistics to analyse their tendencies.

VPIP – Voluntarily Put in Pot – This stat tells us which percentage of all hands a player decides to play preflop. The majority of LAGs have a VPIP ranging between 25% and 35%. A player who plays 25% VPIP is essentially a rather loose TAG, while a player who plays 35% is verging on being a “maniac” (one step above LAG).

PFR – Preflop Raiser – This statistic records what percentage of all hands are played aggressively preflop. The value of PFR will always be lower than (or at most, equal to) the value of VPIP. This is because it’s impossible to play a hand aggressively without voluntarily putting money into the pot.

Seeing as LAGs prefer to have the betting lead, there will rarely be a difference of more than 5% between a LAG’s VPIP and PFR. If the difference is greater than this we are often dealing with a “loose-passive” as opposed to a “loose-aggressive”.

Therefore, a player with a PFR of 20% is considered to be a loose TAG, while a player with a PFR of over 30% is verging on being considered a “maniac” as opposed to a LAG.

The Fundamental Weakness of LAGs

The LAG style is frequently stronger than the TAG style. However, it’s not the style of choice for most beginning players because it requires a larger degree of skill than TAG style poker.

We know that aggression makes a lot of money in poker, and this is exactly why LAGs do so well. However, it’s possible for us to use a LAG’s aggression against them.

In most cases, LAGs do very well against TAGs. If you’ve seen the article on exploiting TAGs, you will recall that the way we beat a TAG is to start playing very aggressively in situations where it appears they are uninterested in the pot. If we are a TAG player and we find a LAG using this type of strategy against us, what must we do in order to defend?

The trick here is to resort to a tighter more passive style and set many traps for our loose-aggressive opponent. Rather than immediately betting for value when we are strong, as is typically the case with tight-aggressive strategy, we want to do our absolute best to appear weak and induce bluffs from our opponent.

Another adjustment we can make is to slightly tighten up our hand-selection preflop. It’s useful to understand that, with 100bb stacks, this is not strictly necessary, but it can make the game a lot easier without any real drawbacks.

Understanding the Type of LAG

Before we go any further, it’s important for us to understand that there are different types of LAGs. There is the type of LAGs that gives respect to aggression and will be capable of laying down hands (good LAGs). And, then there are the types of LAGs who are overly aggressive but are at the same calling-stations, incapable of folding to aggression.

Type 1 – Good LAGs will fold vs aggression
Type 2 – Bad LAGs, verging on maniacs, won’t find the fold button

Against the second type, we have no option but to tighten up and repeatedly set traps for our aggressive opponent to fall into. However, raising for value often ends up being a good option also since we don’t need to worry about our opponent folding too much.

Against the first type of opponent, we don’t always need to tighten up that much. We can fight fire with fire by playing back aggressively and generating folds. That said, against this type of opponent we must continue to play passively with our value-hands after we set a trap. Raising can potentially mean that we miss value because they will correctly identify that we are strong, and make the fold.

Let’s put our counter-strategy together and take a look at some examples.

Counter-Strategy 1 – Setting a Trap

Below is an example of how we can exploit a LAG by setting a trap. This particular LAG will fire 3 streets aggressively as a bluff after we check the flop. They sense weakness and correctly pounce. It’s going to be a big mistake for them, in this example, because we will pre-empt their approach.

lag poker strategy 1

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb) Hero
BTN (100bb) LAG
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb)

Hero is dealt 9c 9h

UTG folds, MP folds, Hero opens to 3bb, BTN cold-calls 3bb, SB folds, BB folds.

Flop (7.5bb)

9s 5h 2c

Hero Checks

Against an average recreational player, this would be a pretty bad decision. We can easily extract 3 streets of value with our top set. It is the stone cold nuts on the flop and will usually still be pretty strong by the river.

However, the problem with firing this hand against a LAG (especially if we have a tight image), is that they will get out of the way. If we signal we are weak by checking, they are going to pounce on us, trying to force us to fold. If you’ve read the article on Exploiting TAGs, you will know that this is the correct strategy to use against a tight opponent. We can counter this by not being so obvious regarding the type of hand we hold. If we are genuinely strong, we need to employ deception and make it look like we are weak.

The best strategy in this particular hand would be to check/call flop, check/call turn, and check/raise river (or call, provided we are not already facing an all-in bet).

Counter-Strategy 2 – Adjusting Preflop Ranges

lag poker strategy 2

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb) Hero
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb) LAG

Hero is dealt Kc 8s

UTG folds, MP folds, CO Folds Hero opens to 3bb, SB folds, BB 3bets to 10bb.

We have been opening on the BTN and getting 3bet all day by an aggressive player in the BB.

What should we do?

The first step is to understand that it is acceptable to slightly tighten up our opening range. Something like K8o should be one of the weaker hands that we are routinely opening on the button. It’s okay to simply fold this.

Our opening range will become stronger and 3betting will be a lot less profitable for our opponent in the BB as we wake up with a premium hand much more often. Keep in mind, that it is not theoretically necessary to tighten up our opening range when facing a 100bb LAG, but it can make the game so much easier, without damaging our winrate.

Something else we can try is to experiment by seeing if our opponent is capable of folding that wide 3bet range to a re-raise (4bet).

lag poker strategy 3

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb) Hero
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb) LAG

Hero is dealt Kc 8c

UTG folds, MP folds, CO Folds Hero opens to 3bb, SB folds, BB 3bets to 10bb, Hero 4bets to 23bb, BB folds.

Notice in this scenario we have a slightly better holding, our K8 is now suited. This is typically a good hand to 4bet bluff because:

  1. It still has some playability when called.
  2. The King serves as a blocker

A blocker is a card that is favourable for us because it “blocks” certain hands our opponent might hold. For example, in this scenario, we are typically worried that our opponent might 5bet us with a hand like KK or AK. This is made less likely by the fact that we already hold one of the Kings.

Not all LAGs will fold to 4bets. However, many will fold more frequently since their 3bet range is so wide.

Counter-Strategy 3 – Playing back against good LAGs

The key to defeating a good LAG is understanding and pre-empting the spots they are likely to play aggressively, and then utilising their own aggression against them.

For example:

lag poker strategy 4

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb)
SB (100bb) Hero
BB (100bb) LAG

Hero is dealt Ad Qd

UTG folds, MP folds, CO Folds, BTN folds, Hero opens to 3bb, BB calls 3bb.

Flop (6bb)

Td 7d 2s

Hero checks, BB bets 4bb, Hero check/raises to 12bb.

Note that we could have simply fired a cbet in this hand and it would have been very profitable. This is the standard option in most cases, simply to semi-bluff. But, against a LAG, it might be even more profitable to check/raise.

If we cbet, they will continue mostly with hands that have connected in some way with the board, even if only marginally. However, if we check there is a chance they will perceive this as weakness and bet the flop with 100% frequency. In other words, by checking, we allow them to put more money into the pot with a much wider and weaker range of hands before attacking.

We could extend this principle even further:

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb)
SB (100bb) Hero
BB (100bb) LAG

Hero is dealt Ad Qd

UTG folds, MP folds, CO Folds, BTN folds, Hero opens to 3bb, BB calls 3bb.

Flop (6bb)

Td 7d 2s

Hero checks, BB bets 4bb, Hero check/calls 4bb.

Turn (14bb)

Jc  

Hero checks, Villain bets 10bb, Hero raises to 27bb

Most LAGs just won’t see this coming. As soon as we checked the flop, they assumed that we had a very weak range and would not be capable of check/raising them. This caused the LAG to over-extend, putting money into the pot with a range that is so wide, it can’t be defended.

On the turn, there is a decent chance that we get a fold, but even if we don’t, we are in reasonable shape to spike a draw on the river. Assuming we get called, we have also set up roughly a pot-sized bet for the river, which we can either use to bluff with or value-bet with, depending on the river card.

Putting it Together

The way we defeat a LAG is by tightening up our ranges and by setting traps. In most cases we know that aggression makes money, but when facing a LAG playing passively can easily make the most money.

We also need to consider which type of LAG we are playing against. Some LAGs are bluffable, some aren’t. Versus the non-bluffable LAGs, we are essentially resorting to playing a very tight strategy for value. We let them win a bunch of the smaller pots and then win big when we have a decent value-hand.

 

Understanding and Exploiting TAGs

exploit poker tags

What is a TAG?

TAG stands for “Tight-Aggressive”. These players have a tendency to select only strong hands preflop. They prefer to have the betting lead (initiative) and are, therefore, more likely to be the preflop open-raiser, or 3-bettor, as opposed to the preflop cold-caller.

Before we get into the technical stuff, how exactly can we identify any TAG opponents sitting at our tables? These are the guys that typically fly below the radar. We may not even notice them that much at first, because most of their hands are going into the muck preflop.

When they do decide to play a holding preflop, they are very often going to continue their aggression postflop because they have a strong hand. Assuming they get to showdown, we are unlikely to see uncoordinated preflop holdings such as J6o. They will usually end up having some sort of pocket-pair, Broadway holding, or premium suited-connector.

Now, let’s look at some technical details regarding TAGs. Feel free to skip to the next subheading if you are not interested in the nitty-gritty.

It’s common to use the following statistics to analyse the tendencies of online players. It’s good to be familiar with the terms since we will see other poker players referring to them a lot.

VPIP – Voluntarily Put In Pot – Essentially this tells which percentage of all hands this player decides to play. The exact VPIP a TAG has will depend on whether they are playing 6-max of full-ring variants of poker.

The majority of 6-max TAGs play between 16% and 25% of hands. A player who plays 25% VPIP is often considered a “loose” TAG, while a player who plays 16% of hands is often considered a “nitty” TAG.

The majority of full-ring TAGS play between 10% and 18% of hands. 18% is on the looser side while 10% is on the nittier side.

PFR – Preflop Raiser – This statistic records the percentage of hands which are played aggressively preflop. Naturally the value of PFR will always be lower than (or possibly equal to) the value of VPIP. This is because it’s impossible to play a hand aggressively without voluntarily putting money into the pot.

Seeing as TAGs prefer to have the betting lead there will rarely be a difference of more than 5% between a TAG’s VIP and PFR. If the difference becomes more than this, we are potentially no longer dealing with a tight-aggressive opponent but a tight-passive opponent.

For 6-max games, a player who plays 20% PFR is often considered a “loose” TAG, while a player who plays 12% PFR is often considered a “nitty” tag. For full-ring games, a player who plays more than 15% PFR is on the looser side while a PFR of less than 8% is on the nittier side.

The Fundamental Weakness of TAG’s

TAG is a great style to play, especially for beginners. It’s recommended that, if we are first starting out at poker, we try and adopt a tight-aggressive approach. This way we can make the most money with the shallowest learning curve. However, the majority of strategies in this game have a counter-strategy, and TAG strategy is no exception.

The truth is that the majority of TAGs are not prone to taking risks. If they were, they would often end up being LAG (loose-aggressive) players instead. TAGs do not like to play big pots with marginal hands.

Therefore, the way we defeat TAGs is to put pressure on them when they are unlikely to have a strong hand. However, we should tend towards folding when they are betting into us on multiple streets. Let’s see how we can apply this information in a selection of different situations.

Counter-Strategy 1 – Preflop adjustments

TAG players often give a large amount of respect to preflop 3bets. This is partly because they 3bet such a tight range themselves, and assume that other players are following a similar type of logic.

Since TAGs are not prone to taking risks, they will be reluctant to call 3bets or 4bet bluff overly aggressively. We should look to exert maximum pressure preflop with decent bluffing hands.

On the other hand, if a TAG decides to 3bet when we open, we should often treat this with a little more caution than usual. The chances of our opponent holding a decent value hand are significantly higher than when we face a 3bet from a loose-aggressive opponent. TAGs will typically 3bet about 4-5% of hands preflop whereas the average LAG will 3bet anywhere between 7-10%.

tag poker strategy 1

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb) TAG
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb) Hero
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb)

Hero is dealt Ac 4c

UTG open-raises to 3bb. MP folds. CO folds. Hero?

Typically, we can’t call in this situation, especially given that our opponent is a TAG; the hand simply won’t be strong enough. We are also aware that their opening range from UTG is a lot stronger than average. Surely, it would be a better idea to attack their later position opens with 3bets.

This can be true to an extent, but here’s the thing: given they look strong, we potentially look even stronger if we 3bet. We would be 3betting despite the fact that they are opening from early position. This kind of situation can play up on a TAG’s tendency to avoid marginal situations. They have a strong hand that they don’t want to give up on preflop. But, by the same token they won’t be inclined to take the risk with extra chips when they know there is a huge chance we have AA/KK.

If a TAG ever 4bets in this spot, we will be absolutely crushed and can find an easy fold. They likely won’t even 4bet AK, preferring just to flat-call out-of-position.

Given the average TAG open-raises 13% of hands and continues with around 3.5% of hands when facing a 3bet, it typically means they can fold over 70% of the time in this spot. This fact allows us to generate profit without even seeing a flop.

Naturally, we are not saying that we shouldn’t 3bet bluff against late position opens; this can also be very profitable against a TAG. When we 3bet bluff against a late position open, we are perceived as weaker, in general, but the openers range is also a lot weaker. That can work in our favour.

Let’s now consider a situation where we are the one facing a 3bet.

tag poker strategy 2

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb) Hero
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb)
BTN (100bb) TAG
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb)

Hero open-raises to 3bb. MP folds. CO folds. BTN 3bets to 10bb, SB folds, BB folds, Hero?

We’ve talked about how this is a great spot to represent a lot of strength. However, just because it’s a good bluff opportunity does not mean that a TAG will be understanding or utilising this fact. Remember that TAGs are often somewhat risk-adverse and will be scared about 3betting against an opening range they consider strong. As such, in this situation, the TAG really will have a premium holding the majority of the time. This is not the right situation to be making a move – we should be folding much more often than not.

Counter-Strategy 2 – Respect Postflop Aggression

We’d be foolish to assume that all TAGs play an identical style. The truth is that some will bluff a lot more than others. A good TAG should bluff somewhat frequently since it’s easier to represent value-hands with a tight image.

However, the majority of TAGs do not bluff that much and are mainly playing for value postflop. So, if a TAG starts betting into us, especially over multiple streets, we should be able to make some pretty big laydowns.

tag poker strategy 3

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb) TAG
BTN (100bb) Hero
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb)

Hero is dealt Jh Th

UTG folds, MP folds, CO opens to 3bb, Hero cold-calls 3bb, SB folds, BB folds.

Flop (7.5bb)

Jc 5s 2h

CO bets 5bb, Hero calls 5bb

Turn (17.5bb)

3c  

CO bets 12bb, Hero calls 12bb

River (41.5bb)

9d  

CO bets 30bb, Hero?

It’s certainly true that we still hold top pair, and there is a chance we might have the best hand. However, if we think about the types of hand our opponent will be value-betting for 3 streets, there are literally no worse hands. Something like J8 (the next worse hand), is simply not strong enough to fire for value like this.

So, the only time we win in this situation is if our opponent is bluffing. How likely is this? The likelihood of a bluff really depends on the type of opponent we are facing, and in this scenario we are facing a TAG, the type of player who is often risk averse. The chances of him firing 3 streets on a bluff are reduced dramatically.

Our top pair is basically garbage here, and a very easy fold against an average TAG.

Counter-Strategy 3 Attack Weakness!

Given that a TAG generally plays their made hands aggressively, it can be a huge giveaway when they start checking. In the majority of cases, a check from a TAG indicates weakness. Note that this mainly applies to situations where the TAG is the preflop-aggressor, as will be the case most of the time.

6 handed, NLHE

UTG (100bb)
MP (100bb)
CO (100bb) TAG
BTN (100bb) Hero
SB (100bb)
BB (100bb)

Hero is dealt Jh 9h

UTG folds, MP folds, CO opens to 3bb, Hero cold-calls 3bb, SB folds, BB folds.

Flop (7.5bb)

Tc 7s 2h

CO bets 5bb, Hero calls 5bb

Turn (17.5bb)

3c  

CO checks, Hero?

The first part of this hand is somewhat standard. We have a hand that is clearly strong enough to cold-call and we flop a gutshot and backdoor flush-draw, which means it would incorrect to consider folding on the flop.

However, rather than firing the second barrel, our TAG opponent decides to check. At this point, alarm bells should immediately start ringing in our head. Why? Our opponent is almost never strong here – most TAGs would continue to barrel with any set, overpair, 2pair, or top-pair combo. Most of the time they are going to have a hand that they planned to cbet with and then give up.

Some players would mistakenly check back here, reasoning that they have a gutshot. They don’t want to get blown off their hand in the unlikely scenario that our TAG opponent decides to check/raise. However, this will happen so infrequently, and our opponent will fold so often if we bet, that betting will nearly always be the stronger choice. There is a secondary advantage in that we build a pot, meaning we can get a bigger payout on the river if we hit our gutshot.

Putting it Together

The way we defeat a TAG is by attacking all the small pots that they are not interested in. When they start putting a large amount of money in the middle, they nearly always have it. We should be able to make some big laydowns. When we fold a strong hand in a situation where a TAG has an even stronger hand, we are exploiting them in a big way.

 

About Texas Holdem Strategy

TexasHoldemStrategy.net is one of the most trusted and reputable poker information websites. We are dedicated to bringing you the best poker strategy articles and coaching videos on Texas Holdem.

Disclaimer

TexasHoldemStrategy.net does not own all of the articles posted on the website. Some of the articles are provided by players from different online sources, if it infringing your rights, please contact us at support@texasholdemstrategy.net.

pokerstars logo
100% up to $600
PokerStars is the largest and busiest online poker room in the world. The site is busy 24-hours per day every day with unrivaled selection of cash games and tournaments. Extremely financially secure.
Play Now
888 poker logo
$88 No Deposit Bonus
100% up to $400
The world’s second largest online poker site and one that is dedicated to recreational players. 888 Poker is known for loose and juicy holdem games. $88 Free, no deposit required.
Play Now
americas cardroom logo
27% Rakeback
100% up to $1,000
Americas Cardroom is one of the most popular online poker rooms to accept players from the United States. Cutting edge and user-friendly poker software with 27% rakeback.
Play Now