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Poker Life: When ABC Poker Is Not Good Enough

Thu, Mar 16, 9:45am by Poker Guru

Often “ABC Poker” is a good enough strategy to win. No need to complicate things. Wait for good hands, play them aggressively, count your winnings. During the poker boom many people made a good living playing exactly like that. They thought they were great poker players but actually they were just decent players taking advantage of the large number of bad players who liked playing poker online.

And when the competition got tougher, mainly because the bad players started spending their money on Candy Crush or something else, those grinders had to look for a new job.

In my last column I said that there are situations where you should be loose-aggressive and even tight-passive and loose-passive. Being loose-aggressive, or LAG as it is called, is how some players became poker celebrities. Gus Hansen and Tom Dwan are two good examples.

Since their ranges are so wide they are very difficult to play against, and they are very good at controlling the size of the pot. They will keep putting pressure on you and when you finally decide to play back at them in a big pot they will suddenly have a very good hand. Unlike tight players, LAGs are able to win huge pots with the nuts.

Stu Ungar, who won WSOP Main Event three times, was considered a LAG in the 80s and 90s but he would probably not have been considered loose today. The game has evolved and is a lot more loose in general today. Back then a check-raise basically meant the nuts so it did not take much to be considered a LAG.

How about passive players? How can that ever be right? First of all you will rarely see successful passive plays on TV because it is boring to watch. But losing to a passive player can be very frustrating. Ask Teddy KGB in the movie ‘Rounders’:

“This son of bitch, all night he, “Check. Check. Check.” He trap me!”

When you play against over-aggressive players  you can play passively and check your good hands and let your opponents build the pot for you. You ‘give them rope so they can hang themselves’, so to speak. If you bet into these players they might actually think twice before calling/raising but they will interpret a check as weakness and bet whatever they have.

When do you want to be tight-passive and loose-passive, respectively? That depends on how aggressive the table is pre-flop. With a lot of raising and three-betting pre-flop you need to play tighter, but if it is more passive you can be looser.

Ideally you are able to comfortably play all these styles depending on the situation.


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