No Limit Hold’em: Show No Mercy at Loose Tables!
We all have a favourite style of play, an approach that has proven more successful than others over time and is also best suited to our personality. However, flexibility is part of the game, and it’s imperative that we learn to both recognise the kind of players we’re up against and a table’s specific dynamic and so on and, subsequently, how to adapt in order to exploit others’ weaknesses.
One such example – especially in the modern game – presents itself when the table is populated exclusively by loose players. Many consider themselves loose-aggressive but, essentially, they tend simply to be much too loose because they get involved when they shouldn’t, constantly, and in so doing are losing players. Note that the psychological pitfall for these players is that when they win an enormous pot after filling a draw their mistaken logic supports the ill-fated notion that the ends justify the means when, in reality (in the long-run), the ends don’t come around sufficiently often to justify the accumulative investment in chasing big hands.
There’s a tendency when trying to profit from this common bad habit to revert to ultra-tight mode and get involved only when we find premium hands, but we don’t have to be so selective, and of course we must balance our game. But when we are in possession of a big hand we shouldn’t be afraid on a loose table to put in a big pre-flop raise – if the ‘standard’ is three big blinds, then doubling that with AA (and KK) won’t scare everyone off at this kind of table. We’re playing a bunch of loose players – they’re loose because they don’t worry about being tight and haven’t spent time contemplating ‘sensible’ bet sizes.
The key is strong bets with strong hands. If we raise with AK pre-flop and bring along two players for a flop containing an Ace and two suited cards, then we should remain aggressive and throw in a bet at least the size of the pot. Of course we could be pushing out of the hand a couple of opponents with lesser hands but there are worse things than picking up a three-way pot. However, habitually loose players can be more influenced by the promise of a draw than the fact they’re being asked to overpay for the privilege of chasing it and, while it might initially seem strange to practically announce our hand with a big bet, this is a good tactic on loose tables. What often happens against two players in this kind of situation is that one player will drop out and we will be left in a growing pot, with a significant lead, against a sole opponent erroneously committed to an over-priced cause.
We’ll see our big hands overtaken occasionally but that’s a mathematical characteristic of poker – as is the cast iron certainty that, over time, correct plays reward us with profit. Sets and other powerhouses should be bet big, with no mercy, the price we insist on the opposition paying being at least the size of the pot – otherwise we’re indulging loose players and justifying their poor play. Results in poker are determined by dealing with this or that scenario better than the opposition.
We should keep in mind, too, when contemplating value, that when we have small pairs or suited connectors, for example, we don’t catch the chasing bug by paying too much to see the flop. Position is yet again a major factor when looking to exploit the potential of speculative hands as cheaply as possible.
Good luck at the tables!