How to Play

Playing against tight players

Playing against tight players can be difficult, but there are certain techniques that can help. Here we explain how to play against different types of tight player:

However you play, you will soon come up against tight players. They keep close control over the number of hands they play and only stay in a hand when they are confident they have strong cards. These can be the trickiest of opponents, because they are the hardest to get anything out of. So, learning how to deal with tight players is an essential poker skill.

Playing against the tight-aggressive player

This type of player is generally regarded as the strongest type of poker player. They are tight because they only play when they have a good hand, and they are aggressive because when they do rouse themselves into action they raise rather than call. If you want to stay in the game, this will force you to pay for it which means you'd better be confident you have the best hand.

Possibly the simplest way to combat a tight-aggressive player is to fold whenever they start betting. You know they have a strong hand, so don't take them on. If you have a seemingly unbeatable opponent, there is no shame in stepping out of their way.

If on the other hand you would like to take on this seemingly invincible opponent, you need to know how to do it properly. Playing loose-aggressive is the best approach, but it is a tactic that requires skill and confidence to be able to pull off successfully. This is not an approach if you still consider yourself to be a beginner.

Playing loose means you will be playing a wider selection of hands, including less strong ones. Although it will mean fewer of your hands will have the same bite at the end of each game, you will also make the rest of the table unsure about their strength. You can then exploit this uncertainty to advantage.

The advantage loose-aggressive players have over their tight-aggressive opponents is that the latter often overestimate the strength of their hands. They do this by mistakenly playing the whole game on the strength of their hand before the flop and forgetting that what may initially have looked like a good hand can turn out to be not so strong after the flop.

Meanwhile, loose-aggressive players can use their reputation for playing hands which are not always too strong to scare fewer players into folding, thereby ensuring the pot is bigger. Alternatively, by betting aggressively, they can scare other players into folding thereby increasing the 'fold equity', the amount in the pot and the number players competing for it.

It is also important to remember positioning when playing loose-aggressive. You will play a bit more in the risky early position than tight-aggressive player would.

Playing against the tight-passive player

Now we've got that poker jackal, the tight-aggressive player, out of the way, it is time to turn to the less menacing tight-passive style. Someone who plays like this will also only play when they have a good hand (that is, they play tight), however they will seldom bet or raise. Instead, these players are more likely to call or check. This timidity means that tight-passive players can be pushed off the pot fairly easy. The key bit of advice here is to be aggressive when playing against them.

Playing against a tight table

Playing against a single tight-aggressive player can be tricky, but at the very least you can sit tight and fold when they join the fray. It is much harder to play successfully when you have a whole table of tight players.

Possibly the easiest thing to do is to stand up and leave the table. In case you either don't want to do this or can't, then there are a few tips that can help.

As tight players are generally easier to read than loose players as they only bet and raise when they have a strong hand. Take advantage of this and don't be scared about raising pots as this will scare them off if they have a weak hand. On the other hand, if they raise then you should be cautious and fold as this normally signals that they have a very strong hand.

Tight players will tend to avoid betting when the flop is primarily low cards, as they will be waiting for a higher and stronger hand. This is your opportunity to bet them off the pot. You should also take advantage of your position on the table. The later you are on a tight table, the easier it is to read your opponents who bet earlier as their bets are likely to indicate the strength of their hand, unlike on a loose table where the players will bet on weaker hands too.