No Limit Cash Games: Loose Tables II

August 8, 2011 by  
Filed under News

No Limit Cash Games:  Loose Tables II

Following on from the Loose Tables introduction, here we feature how different types of loose players make for quite different tables, each requiring very different strategies. These are Loose Passive and Loose Aggressive.

A Loose Passive table has a number of players who have a tendency to limp/call pre-flop with all kinds of hands. This results in a much higher frequency of smallish multi-way pots than is usual.

Significantly, loose passive players, as the name suggests, are unlikely to re-raise us pre-flop, meaning we will get more opportunities on this type of table to get to the flop with hands that offer very good implied odds (such as suited connectors and small pairs) under the radar by joining the limp-fest. These holdings are perfect for multi-way pots. If we miss the flop we’ve had a good value punt, while the trick when hitting big with this or any strong hand is to avoid betting too big post-flop in order to derive maximum value from the passive callers who have caught some kind of (lesser) hand. The ideal scenario is to gradually build the pot and subsequently induce calls at each stage. Remember that with draw-heavy boards we need to bet sufficiently big with our made hands – passive players shouldn’t be given cheap draws any more than other players! If we have a drawing hand ourselves we should take the free card (which we’ll be able to do often) rather than run into potential trouble with a bet.

Playing strong hands pre-flop on a loose passive table, on the other hand, means having to put in hefty raises. Even a conventionally acceptable pre-flop raise of 3xBB might still not prevent loose passive opponents from anyway lining up to see the flop with a collectively wide range of hands, which is very bad news for pocket aces, for example. Instead we need to adopt a betting strategy specific to this situation in order to minimise potential banana skins, namely raising at least 5xBB to properly thin out the opposition.

Loose Aggressive tables are a different animal entirely. Here we have players keen on raising and re-raising pre-flop, the result being larger pots that don’t have as many contenders as a loose passive table. Consequently we won’t be able to liberally enter pots with speculative hands due to the large amount of (re-)raising going on. It’s fine to call a raise with such a hand in late position when it is unlikely another raise is coming to price us out, but a big mistake is to immediately call the opener’s raise with a small pocket pair, for instance, when the table has been routinely seeing re-raises.

As for premium hands like big pairs, then here, too, we can bet strongly. As well as thinning down the field – preferably down to a lone opponent – our big raises are no different to the table style and thus serve to well disguise our hand, and the loose aggressive table character also brings with it the not unlikely possibility that someone will dive in with a re-raise or even an all-in. On a loose passive table we worry a little that we might not be able to get the most out of our big pairs, but against loose aggressive players the action can drag us along to paradise.

Obviously we need to have a decent appreciation of the table dynamics and the players but this is not difficult to get to grips with. Good observation will also help us for the post-flop phase, and we know that on a loose aggressive table we can expect players to pay through the nose with draws, for example. Consequently we should bet very big – we can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and while we will lose some big pots against flushes and straights, if we succeed in helping the opposition remain true to their loose aggressive tendencies we will profit in the long-term. Being too tricky by checking monsters can often backfire on loose aggressive tables because these players can be quite wary of sudden checks and, importantly, by turning down an opportunity to build the pot we sacrifice making increasingly bigger bets as the hand develops.


On loose passive tables we need to bet extra big with premium hands pre-flop (to thin down the field), not too big with made hands post-flop (to keep the passive caller calling), and take free cards rather than bet.

On loose aggressive tables we should also not be afraid to bet big pre-flop, but should maintain the aggression (when in Rome…) with made hands post-flop.

Good luck at the tables,

Angus Dunnington (AngusD)
32Red Poker Ambassador

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