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How To Handle A Tight, and A Loose, Poker Table

August 27, 2014 at 5:08 PM | by | ()

We’ve all been there, especially if you’ve played enough hands of poker in Las Vegas card rooms. We're talking about when you find yourself at a table full of “rocks” who only play the best hands or at the wild and crazy table full of buzzed gamblers ready to tear it up on a hot Sin City night. How do you handle these situations? You’ll certainly have to make adjustments if you want to come out a winner.

The makeup of a no-limit Texas hold’em game can vary greatly from table to table depending on the lineup of players in each setting. Often, the addition of just one reckless player can cause the entire game to change, from a relatively tight and conservative match to one in which all the players begin to loosen up and the chips start to fly in an attempt to win the money of the reckless player. Here are some characteristics of tight and loose games:


• A raise often takes the blinds, or a continuation bet after the flop takes the pot if the pre-flop bet is called.
• Players aren’t willing to put much money into the pot with even relatively strong hands such as A-Q or 10-10.
• Big pots rarely develop due to the lack of contestants, and bluffs are usually effective because the pots aren’t worth fighting over.


• Raises are usually called, as are significant re-raises.
• Players are willing to put a lot of money into the pot with mediocre hands such as K-J or 5-5.
• Big pots are commonplace, as are big bluffs, which are generally less successful than bluffs in loose games but are worth much more when they do work.

What are the advantages of each type of game? For one, you’d much rather play in a loose game because you are more likely to get paid off on your big hands. But, to be successful in a loose no-limit hold’em game, you have to be like the Cowardly Lion after a visit to the Wizard and have a lot of heart. There will be plenty of tricky situations when you’re facing a big bet. If you can learn to figure out who’s bluffing and who’s not and have the courage to act on your convictions, you can do very well in loose games. On the flip side, you’ll have to figure out when to pull your own well-timed bluff to rake in some pots yourself.

On the other hand, tight games also have their advantages. In these games, an aggressive player can steal a lot of small pots. This strategy is most effective in games with decent blinds. If you’re playing $1-$2 there’s not much in the pot to steal, but if it’s a tight $2-$5 or $5-$10 game, then there’s more worth going after. Make your standard raise of 2.5 to 3 times the big blind and you’ll take a lot of pots. Those not won pre-flop can usually be snatched on the flop with a standard continuation bet of half to two-thirds the pot size.

Players in tight games also tend to play more straightforward. You’ll face far fewer check-raise bluffs than you would in loose games. When someone pushes back with a check raise or re-raise in a tight game, it’s best to let your mediocre hands go.

(PHOTO: Pablito C. on Foursquare)

Archived Comments:

Nice post

Always good talking about poker. Love it. It's sad seeing poker rooms closing all over town. By the way, is this the new Caesars room? I'll be staying there in 3 weeks.


Yes, it is. It's hard to tell from this angle but most of it is exposed to the casino floor.