Punishing Tight(er) Players (Part 1: General Bullying)
Overcoming those players weaker than ourselves should rarely be too complicated a strategy – usually (by definition) they will be responsible for their own downfall simply by putting their chips in the middle without proper justification. In this case our cards matter.
However, it is the more knowledgeable players who show some caution when it comes to committing their chips who we want to concentrate on because, if we put enough thought and effort in, we should be able not only to bully them but even to seriously punish them.
Bullying, importantly, forms the foundation of setting this type of player up for later (Part Two).
First we need to find our target by determining which player – preferably to our right – is suitably predictable. Ideally we’re looking for someone who focuses too much on both their cards and what they perceive others’ hands to be, as well as how they evaluate their prospects based on these restrictive parameters. They have a predictable range and, subsequently, aren’t difficult to second guess both pre-flop and once the cards arrive. Crucially, they don’t like to take risks and are not afraid to back down in the face of aggression. They invest however many chips they feel their hand (and the situation) justifies.
Armed with this information, we then single them out and plug away. When they limp, we raise all hands that can put up some kind of fight, which include any pocket pairs, suited connectors, any ace, picture cards and even 1-gaps. Being tight and too cautious, our victim tends to either fold (they believe us) or call pre-flop. In the event of a call, given that they will have missed most of the time, then on most flops they are going to check-fold. Note the significance of position.
Taking this strategy a step further – when our target opens with a raise we are going to re-raise but, critically, with an even more liberal range than above (it’s even possible to do this with any two cards). Remember that these players aren’t afraid to play per se, rather they consider themselves capable of being prudent. They’re not only raising pre-flop with massive pairs but are willing to have a go with other hands, too as long as they don’t have to risk too much. Consequently, knowing that most of the time they are going to miss the flop, they’re going to assume – especially because they are aware of their tight image – that we are re-raising them with the goods. Most of their pre-flop raising range (such as AT) can’t justify being out of position in the face of a re-raise, so we can expect enough folds to make this tactic a profitable one.
Furthermore, we are setting in place the foundations for a bigger payout… (see Part Two).
Good luck at the tables!
Angus Dunnington (AngusD at the tables)
32red Poker Ambassador