Tight Table Strategy

Published: 20/12/2010

Almost all guides to Poker advise players to adopt a tight game. They extol the benefits of patience and waiting for premium hands to play. But what happens when all of the players at a table are playing this way? Is there any way to take advantage of what seems to be a “knitting circle” with everyone waiting for someone else to make mistakes? For such situations, having a tight table strategy can come in very handy indeed.

Loosening up the Rocks

When seated at a table full of tight, solid poker players, hand selection needs to be altered so that it suits the opponents’ tendencies. Almost all tight players follow a strict pre-flop regimen, waiting for hands with certain minimum requirements, so they typically see fewer than 10% of the flops. When they do stay in the hand, they are often on the Big Blind, else they raise because they have caught the premium cards they require.

Because so much time passes between played hands, a tight player may be overly aggressive when an opportunity arises. He or she may also be reluctant to fold in later betting rounds, even when the board warrants little hope. All of these tendencies make tight players rather easy to read and susceptible to certain types of gambits.

For example, raising and opening the pot pre-flop will be preferable to calling the blinds or the raises of other players; a slightly looser style of play can be adopted. When tight opponents have monster hands, they will certainly tip it off by re-raising. Be very cautious about going toe-to-toe with a tight player who appears to be making value bets.

Post-flop, tight player are likely to be quite aggressive with strong hands. Betting and raising, they will make no secret of their strength. Those who check probably held pocket pairs of high over cards and missed the draw. Especially if the board shows low cards, betting into the tight player poses little danger and could take down the pot.

Playing Positions

When up against a table full of tight players, an effort must also be made to get the most out of positional advantages. The table’s rigidity should make it possible to steal some pots and blinds.

For example, tight opponents will be very selective about their starting hands in early positions. When sitting in late positions, a good strategy is to loosen up and raise on a wider range of hands, even if one or more players have called. Tight players believe a stronger hand is needed to call a raise than to make one, so they will often fold.

That said, when a tight player raises from late position, those who have called ahead of the raise should see it as a red flag. There is no disgrace in avoiding a collision with a big hand.

Attitude Adjustment

The most important factor in successfully playing at a tight table is not to be intimidated. Betting and raising can cause tight players to fold, so a little extra aggression comes in handy. By the same token, when they bet or raise, they need to be accorded the same respect.

Continuation bets can be used effectively against tight players, as long as they are not overused. When tight players call such bets, they usually have good drawing hands. Look for any signs that can put them on a specific range. There are degrees of tightness, of course, and it should not take long to identify which players are serious threats and which ones can be played along.

Published on: 20/12/2010

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