UK Poker Player Poker Strategy Articles Playing Tight? Loosen Up a Little!

Playing Tight? Loosen Up a Little!

Posted by David Cowell on July 27, 2010 at 12:32 GMT

There is a point that you come to in Texas Hold´em poker, where you feel you have the balance just right in respect of knowing when to fold your cards.  It takes a lot of time, effort and experience to get there – and then you find that you are never winning any money.

It may come as a surprise, but you have learnt too well! This is a common mistake that new players make when trying to improve their game. You have understood the basics of starting hand selection, position and the keeping your “% flop” figures down, and applied it to such a degree that you are tagged as being “tight aggressive” and only bet when you have a decent hand. So what does everybody do, when you bet on your hand? They fold.

Now although that might be useful for picking up a couple of blinds, it is not conducive to winning a great deal of money on a regular basis, so you need to loosen up a little.

Many players over-compensate when they identify weaknesses in their play, and the best way to avoid playing too tightly is to refer regularly to the “stats” box that most poker rooms have attached to the chat box. Here you will find details relating to the number of hands you have seen and pots that you have won with/without showdown.

Unless you are playing short-handed, you should be involved in around 25% of all the hands that have been dealt. It is a ball-park figure, so no need to aim for it exactly, but if you are showing 15% or less, you really have not got involved in the game at all!

Some players trying to control their innate aggression will limit themselves to playing only on the button, or immediately before it. Although it is good in install discipline in your game, it makes you too predictable, and similarly to everybody folding when you bet, they will bet into you when you are in the blinds position because they know you are following a pattern and will fold. Try betting once or twice out of position when you feel it is appropriate, and see how they bet into you thereafter.

This is also worth knowing that other players also over-compensate for what they perceive are their weaknesses, and if you see patterns emerging in the hands they play and specific positions that they will not play from, you  are able to exploit this to your benefit. Inasmuch as the saying “If you fold and run away, you live to fold another day!” is true, there is an equally valid one which suggests that “Variety is the Spice of Life”.

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