Tight aggressive poker players consider this the most “preferred style” of poker strategy – and the least preferred style to play against. However, any playing style can be exploited if you simply adjust to the play of your opponents better than they adjust to yours. You always need to look as hard as you can for chinks in an opponents’ armor so to speak, and there always are chinks no matter how good the player is.
There is an ideal approach to any style of play in fact and once again, it’s about what you do in order to take advantage of that, versus what he does to counter your moves, then what you do in order to re-adjust, and so on. So in this sense poker is like a game of chess, at least among and against good players, and you never want to get in the frame of mind that a player is tough simply from the style he plays.
For instance, tight aggressive players, by virtue of the tight categorization, tend to fold too much in certain situations. So our first task is to determine which situations apply to this player, and then look to take advantage. Often, it’s in situations where we have position on the player, for instance checking to us and then folding too much.
Given that they are aggressive, they may tend to bet into us out of position at times, perhaps more so than a passive player, although this certainly does vary by opponent. So what that can mean is that there is a certain range that they are leading with, some decent hands we’ll say, and that then polarizes their range more when they check. So we discover for instance that they most often have nothing and mix a few strong hands in there to check raise.
We don’t need to worry so much about being check raised though here, as we’re very often going to be getting enough folds for us to bet as much as we want, not even worrying about what we have. If he calls or raises, then we can worry about our hand then. It’s seldom wise to try to completely run over people in a given situation though, and you should always look to balance things.
I’d be checking back some good hands here though, as his being aggressive may cause him to lead out on the next street and we can then capture more value that way, and leave the weaker hands for the fold equity side. You don’t want to overdo it though and thus be too transparent, and these players tend to be more perceptive than some of the other types. You don’t want them check raising the crap out of you if they realize you’re betting too weak a range.
The tendency for players like this is to play tight out of position, and to play pretty aggressively with position. Now it doesn’t matter if you think that’s correct, it’s never really about that, it’s more about coming up with a strategy to combat the tendency of players, whatever that may be. Sure, we want to be tighter out of position and more aggressive in position ourselves, as a general rule, but we’re talking about handling their play here, and we can come up with strategies to best handle any style or tendency.
So we have an idea of what we want to do to combat their too tightness out of position, and we would expect that we’d be able to exploit that anyway. However, we can look to exploit his in position aggressiveness as well, at least to the extent where we’re putting ourselves in the best spots against it.
Against good players, we’re certainly at a disadvantage out of position, but that doesn’t mean that we need to do what a lot of players do and roll over too much to them. It’s very important in fact that we do everything we can to at least minimize our disadvantage here, while at the same time looking to maximize our advantage when we have the position. Your overall profit will come from the difference between the two in fact.
So our starting point will be to look to mix things up enough so that we’re not giving away too much information here. Checking every time and then check raising our good hands isn’t what we’re after. While leading out can be a real disadvantage when not done properly, it can be an advantage against many players when used appropriately, which means really balancing things and not giving away too much information. There are some tight aggressive players who will fold too much to leads, and even those who don’t, and will raise you, you can get some real additional value with your good hands this way.
One of the real keys to remember here is that you will be making hands just as often as your tight aggressive opponent will, yet he will be more eager to get money in the pot whether he hits his hand or not. So there will be a lot of times where he will be betting air, and this gives us an opportunity to check raise and get him off of these hands if he’s willing to fold enough.
The more he folds, the more we can do this for fold equity, and the less he folds, the more we can do it for value. If he tends to throw out multiple barrels a lot, this gives us an opportunity to call profitably, especially if he tends to raise or fold our check raises, getting his money in when he has better, and costing us value when he doesn’t.
Playing against tight aggressive players will certainly require more thinking than some other types, but thinking is what poker is all about really, and that shouldn’t stop or even discourage us. Sure, we’d rather play against calling stations for instance, but the days are long gone where you see a whole bunch of these at the table, and players play a lot more tighter and more aggressive than they used to, so being good against these kind of players is a necessary skill to have.
Keep in mind here that the task you want to focus on is twofold. First you need to take advantage of their tendency to be too tight, especially out of position. Second, you need to look to exploit their preference to play their hands strongly. This involves not playing too tight against them and folding too much.
This is what we want them to do against us of course, and it works as well for them if we play along. However, if we focus primarily on extracting value when we’re ahead, their aggressiveness will provide us a good opportunity to do so, provided that we are observant and be quick to alter our ranges and strategies when our opponents look to do the same to us.