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LAG Style Poker

How to Play LAG Poker

Loose Aggressive Poker Style

Basic LAG Poker Strategy

by David Huber
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LAG pokerFor being such a generic playing “style”, Loose Aggressive (LAG) is one of the most volatile, high variance, and complicated ways to make a dollar in today’s poker world. Much more difficult to learn than its Tight Aggressive counterpart, the LAG style possesses the potential for maximum profit… but only when used appropriately.

The term “Loose” in this case refers to starting hand selection, while “Aggressive” refers to post-flop betting. Players who employ a LAG style play a wide range of starting hands with the hopes of outplaying their opponents after the flop and reducing opponents’ capabilities of putting them on a specific hand.

The fundamentals of a LAG style are extremely dependent on two things: position and opponents’ tendencies. Playing mediocre hands out of position can be a disaster, regardless of how great a player’s post-flop skills are. It can be argued that even the best player in the world is unable to play certain hands profitably from out of position. With that in mind, a loose aggressive strategy will generally work best versus weak TAG players who overvalue starting hands once the community cards are in view.

While TAG players enter pots for showdown equity purposes, LAG players rely heavily on an often overlooked value… fold equity. After all, anyone who raises in position with rags is not doing so due to hand strength, but rather to (a) pick up the blinds, (b) hit a monster hand and stack off, or (c) outplay an opponent post-flop and make him/her to fold the best hand.

This is not to say that LAG players are unable to play premium hands profitably… quite the contrary. LAG players have a much better chance of getting paid off with their monster hands, while TAG players have trouble getting action at times. Perhaps the most challenging part of a Loose Aggressive style is maximizing value on such a wide range of starting hands – which brings us to one truth: LAG style is not recommended for pure beginners.

Any player employing a loose aggressive strategy will be required to play in many post-flop situations with draw hands. One of the most common confrontations in deep-stacked poker is between basic TAG and LAG styles, where both players are jockeying for maximum value. Understanding pot odds (and implied pot odds) is a key to successfully playing straight draws and flush draws in No Limit Texas Holdem. There will be times you are forced to lay down a decent drawing hand, simply because your TAG opponent will overbet - not giving you the appropriate odds to stay in the hand. There will be other occasions in which you’ll muck a mediocre holding pre-flop because your opponents’ short stack sizes do not justify entering a raised pot as an underdog.

A player attempting to try out the Loose Aggressive style should seek to play their speculative hands either in multi-way pots or by being the first to raise pre-flop. Low suited connectors and one-gappers are recommended over hands like Q3 off-suit, which have very little chance of connecting and pose a potential kicker problem on trip boards. Even if you’re willing to play a wide range of hands pre-flop, you’ll have to adjust after the flop and estimate how much showdown value and fold equity your hand has. Potential showdown value is pretty straight-forward, and can be maximized or achieved by obtaining correct pot odds. Potential fold equity is based highly upon a specific read you have on whichever opponent you happen to be playing against in the pot.

So what are some of the things to look out for when being Loose Aggressive? Well, the first step is recognizing situations where a LAG style will work at its best. Weak TAG players can continually be outplayed on later streets, but you must, at all costs, accurately assess whether or not you can get a particular player to fold in certain situations. LAG style is particularly ineffective versus passive calling stations, since you can only push showdown edges. Playing this style against other advanced LAG players can be murder on your bankroll, as aggressive players with strong post-flop skills can tear any weaker player to shreds in deep-stacked poker.

Loose Aggressive style may very well be the future on No Limit Texas Holdem, but only the very best players are able to utilize it as their primary strategy. The best way I would recommend practicing this style is by playing in Heads Up Sit & Go Tournaments, or in 6-max cash games… where you’re automatically forced to loosen your pre-flop starting hand range.

Keep in mind that LAG requires that a player place more emphasis on table image, reads, and creativity than TAG does. For this reason alone, a player learning LAG style should stick to no more than two tables at a time. With a focused mindset, you’ll be able to improve your game by forcing opponents to react to your aggressive, unpredictable betting patterns. Learn how to play a Loose Aggressive style, and exploit the edges that frustrated opponents hand you in the process.

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Other Poker Strategy Articles by David Huber:
Basic Tight Aggressive TAG Poker Strategy
Poker Mistakes - Learning Curve of Poker
Poker Luck - It's Bad Luck to be Superstitious
Pocket Pairs
Live Action Poker for the First Time
Sit N Go Strategy - Part 1: Early Stages
Sit and Go Tournaments - Part 2: Middle Stages
Five Different Poker Styles

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