Real Money Poker Strategy
There’s enough advice on how to improve your poker game on the Internet to choke a horse. For the most part, the poker strategy tips provided online teach a tight and aggressive style of play that’s technically correct but is a downright boring way to play poker. Constantly playing a tight hand, no matter the game’s circumstances, will make you a less effective poker player and suck the fun out of the game.
Beyond that, constantly playing tight and aggressive can mean winning less money. Playing poker by the book, meaning tightening up your hands and being more aggressive, will give you by the book results. If you want to win more money than you’re winning right now based on playing the same old tight-aggressive poker game, you’ll need to increase your poker strategy wisdom and develop a new philosophy for how you approach the game.
Tight-Aggressive Poker Strategy
Lots of online poker players learn to play a tight-aggressive strategy that keeps them from getting trapped and taking big losses. It’s an effective strategy that often teaches you the best strategy for a given play, but there are definitely times when traditional “TAG play,” as tight-aggressive is sometimes referred to, is not the right way to play poker, and certainly not the most potentially lucrative.
An example of when tight-aggressive play keeps you from winning more money: let’s say you’re in late position at the table with no one else in the hand with a player sitting behind you folding every time someone raises (what poker players call a “rock”). In that circumstance, TAG strategy would tell you to call rather than raise the pot and take the guy’s blind , even if your hand isn’t worth anything. There’s even a poker player’s nickname for the type of player who sticks to tight-aggressive play no matter what – they’re called “TAG fish,” and they’re plenty easy to beat.
Play the Player, Not the Cards
A common antidote to the tight-aggressive strategy spreading like wildfire is the advice to “play the player, not the cards.” The idea is to make your poker game a little more three-dimensional, and less formulaic. Manipulating how other players size you up is a great way to counter typically tight poker play. If you play a few loose hands and get the table thinking you’re a loose player, you may find your opponents raising hands they would normally call, expecting to make easy money off your loose play. Adding this extra dimension to your game is sure to add money to your bankroll – manipulating your own image as a player to get your opponents to make the plays you want them to make will help you win more money.
Combating Tight-Aggressive Strategy
Remember that the typical tight-aggressive player doesn’t play many hands. These players are taught to only play their best hands, raise a lot when they have the cards, and will rarely check or call when he does play. Tight-aggressive play works because only raising and betting on strong opening cards means you maximize your chances of winning, statistically. The idea behind TAG strategy is to get more money into the pot and force your opponents to fold.
Since many poker players use the famous TAG strategy, you can use this three-dimensional poker game to make yourself seem like an extremely aggressive player, which will almost always trip up a tight opponent, who sticks to the TAG strategy and folds more often against you. Sizing up your opponents tendencies, and being aggressive against TAG players, is one of the best money-making strategies against tight players.
Tournament Play and Manipulating Your Image
As with any strategy, things change a little when it comes to tournament play. Being a three-dimensional poker player is difficult in tournaments where your opponent is constantly changing. It’s important to adjust the psychological aspect of your game any time you face a new set of players, and adjust your strategy to their own style.
Don’t Underestimate the Value of Post-Flop Play
A lot of TAG strategy depends on the cards you hold pre-flop. The truth is, your play post-flop has a much bigger effect on your bankroll than pre-flop decisions. Most of the money you’ll make playing poker will come after the flop. TAG-obsessed players often find themselves getting burned on a top pair hand or getting caught trying to double or triple up on a bluff after the flop. It’s easy for poker players trained with a tight-aggressive mentality to lose big money on double and triple barrel play post-flop; so don’t stick so tightly to TAG mentality, use the psychological aspect of the game, and keep more of your money in your chip stack.
Win More Money by Understanding Your Opponents
If you’re playing against a table full of tight-aggressive opponents, you’re sitting with a bunch of poker players trying to use bluffs, bets, and raises to force weaker players into folding their potentially game-winning hands. You can only play back against a tight-aggressive opponent if you know he is sticking tight to TAG strategy and you have a decent hand. This is where knowing how to read a poker game becomes important, and why you have to have a three-dimensional poker game that includes getting in your opponent’s heads as well as playing the best poker you can play.
So how do you know if you have a hand good enough to go up against a TAG player? Let’s say you’re playing heads-up against a typical tight player – in this circumstance, a high-ranking pair is generally a good enough hand, while playing against a loose opponent usually means a second pair makes your hand good enough to play through. If you know you have a good enough hand to combat most TAG players, it doesn’t matter if the tight-aggressive opponent raises or not, because you know you have him beat in most cases, since he’s holding top pair most likely.
Playing a three-dimensional poker game will lead to winning more money. Rather than sticking to a strategy that doesn’t take player’s personalities and styles under consideration, the trick is to avoid letting tight-aggressive strategy and wagering fool you into thinking that player is holding two pair or better. Putting your opponent on the draw and forcing him to make your bets for you will help you win more money when you play cash games, MTT’s or other poker sit and go’s online.