Play tight or play loose poker?

by PokerFanatic | posted in Poker articles

Poker Playing Styles

People have been debating the pros and cons of Tight vs Loose play for years. It has become a hotter topic than ever before with poker games being played in a much more loose manner over the last few years.

To be honest I probably fall down on the tighter side of the game, watching the other players at the table, looking for weaknesses or obvious tells, whilst most players around me go all out for glory early on, sometimes crashing and burning, sometimes clearing the table before you have even blinked.

Of course, a lot depends on what you are playing. I tend to play single table poker, whereas a lot of people who like to play loose and fast tend to play multi-table poker online. The question of whether to stay tight or play loose hugely depends on what format of the game you are involved in. If you are one of the thousands of people who are adopting the LAG game that is sweeping the internet then we really would not recommend playing loose when multi-tabling. We would suggest tightening up in this situation. A lot of the time it will be in your interests to fold with small and EVs to better your efficiency, reduce your error rates and to reduce your variance.
And if you do want to go down the “multi tabeling road” then i strongly suggest that you get a stats program like CalculatemPro. It is also a must event though you only play one table, but for playing multi table poker, it is even more important sicne you wont be abel to focus on all the tables that you are playing.

Maybe I can explain this better with an example:

Lets say we have two players, Pete and Dave. Pete tends to play about 10% of Hands while Dave plays about 30%. Pete relies on the cards, his reputation as a tight player and his positional play. Dave uses his loose image, and his ability post flop.

Pete will miss out on more pots and more opportunities, but these will mostly be small and EV and he will gain by avoiding tricky situations and by playing positionally he will give himself more opportunities to steal and his tight game will strengthen his bluffs.

Dave will lose out on the first 10 or 15% of his hands but because of his aggressive play he will benefit with bigger wins with his good hands and will be able to make stronger bets in certain scenarios. It is not unreasonable to think that after a years play they might end up with a similar bank balance.

The point here is that this example assumes that both are playing live. The situation changes dramatically when parallelled with online multi-tabling in poker.

Dave will likely discover that the small and EV hands which benefit him offline will lose their appeal. If you are multi tasking with five different tables things get a whole lot more complicated. There is simply too much thought for a mere mortal and having to think about all these different tables is going to take its toll on anyone. Time is of the essence when you are multi-tabling, and playing loose is going to mean more decisions, more often.

Pete is more likely in this new scenario to tighten up even more than normal. This might mean mucking some hands which he would normally play.

Of course it appears that we are arriving at the same answer as with the first style of play. There is no doubt that both styles can and will at times work, but in Multi-tabling, Pete will certainly have the psychological advantage in poker. If you are multi-tabling you need your decisions to be as formulaic as possible, and this obviously benefits Pete, who is making the same decisions he always makes. Pete will make less difficult decisions, his error rate will be low and he will remain in control of all his tables. Dave will find that having to make several tough decisions at the same time will have him tearing his hair out. He will become erratic, and end up going beyond his normal loose, but controlled approach to the game. Multi-tabling pays to play tight poker, and it is perfectly acceptable to get pushed out with marginal hands, it is okay to get bluffed, to muck a good hand and even to give up a blind, even against what appears to be a naked steal.

Of course, all of this is merely conjecture, and people will always have different opinions, different experiences. Poker is one of the most complex games in the world and I am well aware that there are hundreds of different ways to play the game. If you have got any thoughts or experiences on this type of situation we, would love to hear your thoughts so feel free to comment.


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