There are two main styles of playing poker – loose and tight. But what exactly are these and how do you know which style to play? Many less-experienced poker players will tend to play at the extreme ends of the playing style spectrum, either adopting a method that’s too loose or too tight; therefore playing far too many hands or hardly any at all. There are certain times when you should adjust your style of play, usually depending on what type of opponent you’re up against. Read on to find out when you should play loose and when you should play tight.
In poker, what is ‘tight’ and what is ‘loose’?
Loose play is when you play a higher number of hands without emphasising their pre-flop value – for instance playing hands that have a low or even a negative expected value. Players who are described as loose are also likely to continue playing weak hands even after the flop. A loose aggressive player – known as LAG – tends to play significantly more starting hands which they won’t fold even if they don’t hit the flop. This player’s gameplay will have a negative expected value in the long-term.
In contrast, a tight poker player will play much fewer hands and is more conscientious. A starting hand chart will help them to choose their hands by following specific criteria. A tight player won’t play marginal or weak hands postflop as much as a loose player. The ideal style of play is tight aggressive – or TAG. A TAG player will play less starting hands and will only play these when they hit a flop or a draw that’s promising. These hands will be played very aggressively in that the TAG player will protect them by raising and betting.
Whether you’re playing at a card table with friends or you’re online playing GGPoker Poker Games, it can be difficult to know when to play tight and when to play loose. So, when should you adapt your gameplay style?
When to play tight
Ideally, poker should be played tight, and this is even more important when up against a tight opponent. As tight players are more likely to fold, you can play more bluffs or semi-bluffs. A semi-bluff has a positive expected value based on the presumption that your opponent will fold. However, these should only be played if you’re sure that the other player will do so.
When playing tight, make sure that you select your starting hands carefully and remember that suited connecters will lose their value when there’s not many players to pay up to the flop.
When to play loose
If you’re playing multiple poker sessions, then a loose style is more likely to result in more wins at a faster rate. There’s a lot more chance of earning cash from speculative hands, such as suited connectors, in loose games. However, this faster rate of play and having more hands can often result in more losses too, so it’s not wise to play loose if you can’t afford to lose money.
If playing against a loose aggressive opponent, it can help to use their range of starting hands against them by bluffing. It can sometimes work in your favour to switch from playing tight to loose during the one session. This is a good idea when you’re at a table against both tight and loose players, so that you can adjust accordingly to each opponent. Once you’ve established what style each player is, you can use this against them.
Being able to determine when to play tight and when to play loose during poker is a valuable skill to have. Adjusting your playing style accordingly will make you more unpredictable to your opponents and therefore a more formidable player.