Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
When we talk about adjustments in NL holdem the looseness and tightness of your image is one of the first things that you should recognize about your own game. In theory, the more hands that you play the less likely that it is that your opponents will give you credit. If you do not play many hands you should be able to get away with more bluffing. Aggressive players should take note of this and value bet their hands thinly while tight players must recognize that, if their opponents are paying attention, they may only get action when other players are strong.
Since holdem is only a two card game it becomes very advantageous if you can put yourself into a situation where you win the pot when both you and your opponents miss. Simple math dictates that most people will not connect with the flop very hard on most occasions. If you are a good LAG (loose aggressive) you can really run over a lot of weak tight opponents especially short handed. But how easy is it to maintain this LAG type image and play profitably in a full ring game? Are your opponents even aware of what is going on?
I remember before the Moneymaker boom David Sklansky said that no limit was a dead game unless people were playing with invisible antes. The simple fact of the matter is the blinds are very small in comparison to stack depth and you can play so extremely tight in a full ring game that you can literally “best hand” people if they are playing too loose. At today’s tables, especially when you are playing with good “nits”, a lot of LAGs tend to force the issue because they feel like they want to get paid off when they actually make a big hand. If you are faced with decent players, however, and everyone is playing less than twenty-five percent of their hands LAGing it up and playing over forty can be a huge disadvantage. These players can literally wait to make the best hand against you and it does not cost them that much through the blinds.
A while back, a friend of mine in a $5-$10 NL game opened 7♦ 3♦ UTG +1 at a tight, ten handed table. He ended up losing a fair amount of money trying to bluff into a set. When I asked him why he was opening such a weak hand from early position he said that he was trying to “maintain his LAGGY image”. In reality, however, he was putting himself at way too much of a disadvantage solely for the purpose of trying to be seen as a loose player. One of the things that I think people constantly overlook is that many players are not even paying that much attention to your style. You do not need to force the issue and play hands that will not be profitable in a given situation just because you want to get paid off later on. Most of your opponents are not correctly making adjustments anyway and if you look at a lot of the tighter players at the table, especially at the five dollar blind level, they are getting paid off with their big hands just as much as the looser guys. Do not sacrifice positional disadvantage and severely handicap yourself through weak hand strength just to set up future value that may very well be there later on anyway.
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