Tight Poker Player

Solid Player - TAG - Tight Aggressive

by Jesse Knight


Tight Poker Player
Tight - A conservative playing style.

Investors choose their investments based partially on the level of risk they are comfortable assuming. If they are comfortable with a high level of risk, they will make high risk investments, but will also expect a greater return on the capital they have invested. Investors who are more risk adverse choose investments with a lower level of risk associated with them, and a lower potential for both profit and loss. From this perspective, investing is largely about managing risk.

A poker player is like an investor in many ways. Each time they act on their hand, it is an opportunity to invest or to not invest in the current pot. A personís playing style tends to reflect their own personal level of risk aversion. A player who is more comfortable with risk will not shy away from marginal investment opportunities, and this will lead to them playing more hands. This style of play is described as being loose. At the other end of the spectrum sits the player who is highly risk adverse. This player will avoid marginal situations like the plague. They will tend to put money into the pot only when they have an obviously profitable situation, and will tend to throw their hand away if they are not sure. This type of play is described as being tight.

All players fall somewhere on this loose-tight continuum, based upon their level of risk aversion, and the style of play that they have chosen to adopt. How aggressive you are is also indicative of your playing style, and there is a second passive-aggressive continuum which is frequently mentioned in tandem with the loose-tight continuum when discussing playing style. A player who raises and bluffs frequently is characterized as being aggressive. A player who frequently checks and is predominantly non-aggressive is referred to as being passive. Most players will adopt a playing style which is either tight aggressive (TAG), loose aggressive (LAG) loose passive (LP), or tight passive (TP). While even the top professionals will have some variation between how tight and how aggressive they play, all playing styles are not created equal, because there is a natural edge built into the game for players who adopt a TAG style of play.

Most winning players will play relatively tight, because starting hand selection is so critical to success. Once you get behind in a poker hand, you are generally at a disadvantage, and it can be extremely difficult to catch up. This is why it makes sense to try to start with the best hand whenever you can, and you can accomplish this largely through tight preflop play.

There is also a natural advantage for aggressive play. Most poker hands never make it to showdown, they are won when a player bets and the rest of the players all throw their hands away. Players who tend to bet and raise aggressively will be in a much better position to win more of these pots then their more passive opponents. In other words, when you bet, you can win the pot in either of two ways. You can show down the best hand, or you can also win if you bet or raise and nobody calls you. If, on the other hand, you check, you can only win the pot by showing down the best hand. If you do not bet, you do not give your opponents an opportunity to throw their hands away. As you can see, there is a natural advantage to both tight play and aggressive play, and therefore, most winning players have chosen to adopt a TAG playing style.

Good players will also be able to adjust their playing style slightly, based upon how their opponents choose to play. It has been said that you should tend to make adjustments in the opposite direction of the play at your table, and there is much truth in this. If you are at a tight passive table, you should adjust your play slightly to become more loose aggressive. If you are at a loose aggressive table, you should adjust your play in the tight passive direction. This allows you to counter your opponents play most effectively. Keep in mind that you are simply making minor adjustments to your game and are not adopting an entirely new playing style. You are simply tailoring your game to best respond to the individual actions of your opponents.

Usage: Tighten Up, You Play Tight, He Is A Tight Player

Also see: ABC player, Rock and TAG - Tight Aggressive Playing

Previous Poker Term: Tell
Next Poker Term: Tilt


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