Basic Poker Strategy: Loose Players

Don’t let loose poker players push you around. Find out how to identify and create a poker strategy that works against them.

Online poker tables are rife with loose opponents, and that’s why a lot of older players simply don’t enjoy the online game as much. They’re the source of bad beats, and even the hungriest of sharks can run afoul with their ways. Aggression is a good thing in poker, but there’s a distinct difference between loose aggressive players and smart aggressive players. Here’s how to keep yourself from being bullied and ensure a nice payoff when you make a hand.

First of all, let’s define the loose player in the simplest terms possible: they’re someone who plays a lot of hands, even if they’re not very good. Watch the cards a player takes to the showdown and take note if they’re of dubious quality. Keep a keen eye out for players with weak hands that call one or more raises in poor position. Loose play is generally a losing strategy because it’s essentially gambling, but it can mask when a player is holding a good hand. Some people are smart enough to be loose but maintain their chip stack, but most are throwing good money away after bad hands.

Types of Loose Players
Loose players fall into three basic categories: the blackjack player, the calling station and LAG’s. Blackjack players are more passive, focusing very much on their own hands. They often call pre-flop and continue to call afterwards. Calling stations are similar, but they tend to play fewer hands compared to the Blackjack players. The third type, the LAG (loose aggressive guy/gal), is the one you have to look out for because they’ll bet and raise on a broad range of hands. Just because an LAG doesn’t raise, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a strong hand. This is because they’ll often raise with weak hands and call with strong ones in an attempt to mask their actual hand strength.

The Blackjack Player
Once you’ve identified a Blackjack player at your table, you should immediately tighten up. If you’re willing to play, you have to make sure you make it unprofitable for them. Raise as often as possible and punish them for wanting to see more cards. Keep in mind the math behind pot odds and remember that if you’re playing against them, then you’ve probably got everything on your side.

The Calling Station
Calling stations are arguably the most frustrating players out there because they simply will not fold. Don’t bet as big and often as you would against the Blackjack player, and remember that you should not bluff these players. If they’re in, they’ve got at least one Ace or face card in their hand and the board can give them joy. If a calling station raises, don’t hesitate to fold immediately.

You should do your best to isolate the LAG’s when you’re playing against them. Worry about the other players more than them during the flop, and try to make it so you’re taking them down alone. Let them lead the way unless you’re sure you have them beat, and then you should pump them hard for chips.

The most important thing to remember about loose opponents is that they’re probably going to get lucky every once in a while. It happens, and that’s just the nature of the game. However, remember that you will, over time, get more from them than they will from you. Your mantra should be that you do not fear them, but instead view them as a boon to your bankroll, albeit one that you’ll have to adjust your play for.