No Limit Cash Games: Loose Tables

August 3, 2011 by  
Filed under News

No Limit Cash Games: Loose Tables

For the sake of simplicity, cash games can be described as loose, tight or somewhere in between, and players tend to have a preference for the kind of table at which they feel the most comfortable. Of course as people come and go during a session, the nature of the play can change, sometimes quite drastically from one extreme to another. With this in mind it’s worth acquainting ourselves with these morphing table characteristics in order to be able to adjust and alter our strategy accordingly.

Not surprisingly, those tables with the most potential for significant gains/losses due to the higher variance are populated mainly by loose players. A loose player is someone who is quite willing to play (and in doing so pay for) far more hands than normal. The wider the range (for some so wide it can incorporate just about anything) the looser the player, and when a few sit together the result is a table where there is considerable multi-way action, often post-flop and even at showdown.

A good guide when searching for loose tables can be found in the Lobby by looking at the number of players who stay in for the flop – the P/F column – and (to a lesser extent) the average size of each pot – Av.Pot (see image below). In the modern game, due to today’s strategies featuring more aggression, it is quite normal for the majority of tables to have a P/F average percentage in the forties. While this seems more loose than not, a reliable rule is that anything over 45% can be considered loose, while there will usually be a few tables at all levels with a P/F of over 55%, and even higher (albeit rarely will a table consistently have more than 70% of players per flop over a prolonged period). At the other end of the scale, anything less than 40% could be considered ‘tight’ in today’s game. Note that for 6-max tables, for example, we should be looking only at those with at least five players – preferably six – for a decent indication of how loose the play is.

Aggressive loose tables obviously produce bigger pots than passive tables, so keep an eye out for high figures in both these columns. However, this is where we need to make a distinction between two quite different types of loose table, namely Loose Aggressive and Loose Passive. The former is populated mainly by players who like to raise and re-raise before the flop, with larger pots and not quite so high P/F. Loose Passive tables see more players limp/call pre-flop with a wide range of hands, generating smaller pots that have more players.

Clearly, despite both being considered ‘loose’ it is necessary to adopt quite different strategies, which we’ll investigate in future articles. In the meantime, if you want to get a feel of different kinds of table, I suggest dropping down a level or two to better concentrate on focusing on playing styles and so on rather than the usual concerns of profit.

Good luck at the tables!

Angus Dunnington (AngusD)
32Red Poker Ambassador