Poker Essays

Fixed Limit Hold'em Strategy - Playing in Tight Aggressive Games
By June 2006

One of the things you need to know in Hold'em is when a game is good and when it is not. When someone refers to a "good" Hold'em game they mean one in which you are likely to play much better than your opponents, a game you can get control of to extract more bets and win more pots than your opponents do.

There are four different types of games you can encounter, based on the different dimensions of poker playing styles.

Loose players are players who aren't afraid to put poker chips in the pot with less than premium hands. They generally play more hands than they should for longer than they should.

Tight players won't put chips in unless they think they have the best of it, and probably won't continue with hands that require they do a lot of "gambling" to win, such as weak flush or straight draws.

Passive players don't like to put many chips in after the flop until they are sure they have the best hand, and are more prone to check and call than to bet and raise.

Aggressive players will bet most hands they play. They prefer to bet and raise to try to put pressure on their opponents to fold.

Players fall somewhere along the tight-loose and passive-aggressive spectra. The most profitable games tend to be loose passive games, where players are putting many chips into a pot with marginal hands and not aggressively pursuing that pot. Conversely, the toughest game to beat is a tight aggressive game.

Tight aggressive is the ideal style for success in poker. If you play mostly premium hands but sometimes weaker hands to throw off your opponents and bet all of your hands aggressively, putting pressure on your opponents on every street, you will maximize your poker earning potential. If you find yourself sitting in a game like this, your best bet is really to get up and find another game. If you cannot do this, you will have to play your best poker to survive. Be aware that these players will usually play good poker cards, but will sometimes mix in suited connectors or even random cards to vary their play and deceive you about the strength of their hand. Do not be afraid to get involved in a pot with these players, but be confident when you do.

You must learn to read your opponents and get an idea when they have a real hand or when they are betting simply to pressure you. You must also play aggressively back at them, raising and re-raising when necessary. To repeat, avoid this game if at all possible. If this is the only game in town, stay focused and disciplined. If you don't win, you may at least learn a thing or two that you can use to profitable advantage in better games!

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