Playing against loose players

In this section we’ll talk about:

So what makes a loose player? They’re the players who seem like they’re throwing money around and putting pressure on everyone else. This is because they’re playing more hands than would normally be considered a good idea. They know they’re often in a worse position pre-flop so they play aggressively to force others to fold or put themselves in a position to win big when they have a strong hand. They leave their opponents little room to breathe and are always asking if you’re really, really sure you want to carry on with that hand.

Pros of hanging loose

There are two major benefits of playing loose:

  1. You’ll pick up a lot of small, abandoned pots where everybody folds
  2. You cultivate an appearance of never having anything good, which comes in handy when you’ve got something awesome

So should we all be loose cannons?

The simple answer is no. The danger with playing this way in lower-limit games is that everyone’s happier to call more so the game is more likely to make it to the showdown and then it’s down to your hand. You’re also in a weak position pre-flop and need to really outplay your opponents, which is harder work than it looks.

To make playing loose really work, you need to be able to read hands and players very well. You need to be targeting the right players for bluffs and be able to take the risks of piling on the pressure.

When to play

If you’re sold on playing loose, here are a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • You’ll have a very specific table image. While this can work to your advantage with a good hand, be aware that players will catch on quickly and be more aggressive, hoping to drive you to a showdown
  • Position is king. Acting in as late a position as possible is not just an advantage but a must
  • Play loose in deep-stack games. You’ve got a better chance at betting players off their hands after the flop in games with a stack of more than 30 times the big blind

Don’t LAG behind

How do you play against a LAG (loose-aggressive gamer)? There are a couple of things to try:

  1. Wimp out. Just stay out of their way. It’s better to lose a little face than a lot of chips
  2. Take the call. If the LAG is playing for big money, raising and re-raising you, call to limit the damage
  3. Out-loose them. If your opponent is playing for little pots, try and force them into playing for bigger stakes. They might not have the guts to take you on