Tight works playing Texas Hold’em Poker

Oct 29, 2013 3:00 AM

In Texas hold’em, playing tight usually is regarded as a positive attribute for poker players.

Tight players are selective as to their starting hands. They are less likely to waste chips chasing longshots. They are patient and wait for appropriate opportunities before investing their chips.

It is possible to play too tight! Such players invariably go home losers. I’ll explain why.

Image: Opponents soon get wise to the tight player’s mode of betting and raising. That image is so apparent when a player folds hand after hand, and rarely goes beyond the flop. What’s the net result? When Mr. Too Tight comes out betting or makes a raise, the other players KNOW he has a strong hand.

Under these circumstances, if they have a marginal drawing hand they usually will fold to his bet or raise and the pot will be relatively small. How can he replenish the chips from his previous losing hands if everyone folds whenever he has the winning hand?

Bluffing: It’s often said you cannot be a winner unless bluffing on occasion. Mr. Too Tight would not dream of trying to win a pot by bluffing out his opponents. He plays to hold the best hand at the showdown and misses out on the opportunity to stack the chips from a winning bluff. Chances are, he never learned the tactics for successful bluffing and never will.

Position: More often than not, very tight players are unaware of the subtleties of position – why late position permits you to enter the pot with a less strong hand than needed from an early or middle position.

If they treat all positions alike, while playing very tight, they are bound to muck cards preflop that could have developed into winning hands that are better disguised so they earn more chips from value bets. Winning fewer pots is bound to cost Mr. Very Tight lots of valuable chips.

Counting their outs: My guess is very tight players seldom, if ever, bother to count their outs – how many cards are available to make their hands (presumably most likely to be the winning hand). That being the case, they have no idea of their card odds, which is essential to determining if they have a positive expectation and therefore should call that bet. (Likewise, I doubt very loose players count their outs.)

What about playing looser? Mind you, I do not advocate for playing too loose, either. It’s just as harmful to your chip stacks as playing too tight – maybe more so. At least when playing too tight, you are not giving away your chips. (Easy come, easy go?) A middle course is bound to be more profitable in the long run. Incidentally, that philosophy applies to bluffing also. Bluffing too often will get you more calls – and more losing hands.

An alternative: How can you be sure to have the “right” mix of tight and loose hands so you optimize your winners and minimize the losers? The key is starting-hand selection. Play the hands that give you the best chance of winning the pots. For me (and other winners), that means using Epstein’s Hold’em Algorithm.

This makes it so easy to make that key decision: Should I hold’em (play this hand), or fold’em (muck my holecards before investing my chips?) The algorithm is designed to permit you to play tight, but not too tight! And, it considers all the important factors in making that decision – aspects you would not have the time to think about in the heat of playing your hand.

Just quickly add up your point count. Other important considerations are included. (See GT ad). As in life, proper balance is the best policy!

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