How to Play Loose-Aggressive Poker as a Beginner
Part of being a good poker player is knowing how to change gears and play different styles of poker depending on what's best for the table. One of the more fun ways you can play is to play a loose-aggressive style of poker. Players like Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey made their name playing a loose-aggressive game, so if you want to learn how to play like them, download WPT Global today to your device and read on!
What is a Loose-Aggressive Poker Strategy?
A loose-aggressive or LAG poker strategy is a poker strategy that involves playing a lot of hands and playing them aggressively. It differs a lot from standard poker advice, which is to wait for good hands, and is therefore a tricky strategy to play well. However, if you're able to master it, it can make you a very tough opponent to play against.
While a tight-aggressive strategy is considered by many to be the best way to play, it can make some players a little predictable. If you know that your opponent will always have strong hands when they play preflop, then you can take advantage of them on boards that you know won't hit them based on their preflop range.
However, if you're playing against someone who uses a LAG poker strategy, you can't as accurately predict what hands they have, as their preflop range is a lot wider. A good LAG player will play a wide range from each position, but they need to be careful not to overdo it.
Loose-Aggressive Poker: Starting Hands
When it comes to the start ranges of a good loose-aggressive player, they'll be somewhere between 10-20% looser than a good tight-aggressive player. If a TAG player has a VPIP/PFR of 20/16, a good loose-aggressive player will be around 35/30, which is a significant increase.
We can extrapolate that 10-20% increase to each position at the table. If a TAG player will raise the top 30% of hands from the cutoff, a good LAG player will raise anywhere between 40-50% of hands. However, it's important that you choose the right hands to add to your range when you start to play a LAG style of poker. If you add in the wrong 10-20% of hands, it will become very hard to be a winning player.
You want to pick hands that flop good amounts of equity - so you want to use hands that are suited and/or connected, or have decent high-card value. For example, adding a hand like 53s into your range will be much better than Q5o, as 53s is going to be a lot easier to play postflop.
A quick shortcut you can use to figure out what hands you should be opening preflop if you're using a LAG strategy is to open the range of hands you'd usually open one position later. For example, if you're UTG, raise your UTG+1 range, if you're in the hijack, raise your cutoff opening range, and so on.
When is the LAG The Best Style to Play
It's best to play a loose-aggressive strategy when most of the other players at the table are playing on the tighter side. When you play a LAG strategy against these players, you're going to win way more than your fair share of pots as they're going to fold far too often. You'll find that your showdown winnings won't be great, but you'll be winning so many pots without showdown that it won't matter.
Another great time to play a LAG poker strategy is when you're close to the money/final table of a tournament and you have the biggest stack at the table. When you get to a "bubble" scenario in a tournament, people are going to play tighter than usual to make sure they don't get knocked out. You can use this to your advantage by opening a much wider range and playing very aggressively postflop. The more pressure you can put on your opponents, the more likely they'll fold and you can win the pot without showdown.
Anytime you think your opponent will react negatively to pressure, you should be playing a loose-aggressive strategy. What makes strategies like this one profitable is that you get people to fold a disproportionate amount of the time. When you open such a wide range, you can't win in the long run by continually making the best hand. Instead, you need to play aggressively and get people to fold. Therefore, if for any reason players at your table are playing on the tight side, a loose-aggressive strategy will be profitable.
When Should You Avoid Using LAG Poker Style?
You should avoid playing a LAG poker strategy when you're playing against players who won't fold to your bluffs. The profitability of this strategy is predicated on people folding to your bluffs. When you play such a wide range of hands, your range is going to be more weighted towards bluffs than it is towards value bets. Therefore, if people start to over-call against your bets compared to equilibrium, you'll quickly find that it is not a profitable strategy.
Games that are filled with loose-passive players are often the kryptonite of loose-aggressive strategies. In these kinds of games, people don't often fold preflop, and if they've got any piece of the board they're likely to hold on until the river. If you're in a game where the players won't fold top-pair no matter what, then you're going to find that a loose-aggressive strategy won't be very profitable.
Low-stakes live games are great examples of this. They’re filled with players who don’t like to fold and will happily go to showdown with top-pair no matter how the board runs out. There are plenty of players who have gone broke trying to bluff the recreational players at $1/$2. For those at the back - THEY’RE NOT GOING TO FOLD! Save your money and play a tight-aggressive strategy instead, it will be a lot more profitable in the long run.
The Main Counter-Strategies for Dealing with LAGs
If you come across a player who is playing a loose-aggressive strategy, the best counter you can have for them is to call down more often when you have showdown value. Even a good loose-aggressive player is going to have trouble balancing their bluffs and their value bets due to the increase in hands they're playing preflop. This means that when they bet, they're far more likely to be over-bluffing, which means that the best exploit is to call more often.
This can be tough to do as these LAG players will apply a lot of pressure by using large bet sizes on scary boards. It can be hard to call down with second-pair when you're facing a pot-sized bet on the river - especially because you know that sometimes they'll have it, and you'll feel silly for calling down so light.
Unfortunately, that's just part of the game when you're playing against a loose-aggressive player. If you don't want to be exploited, you're going to have to bite the bullet and call down with hands that you may not feel comfortable with. Download WPT Global today to your device, and with enough time and experience, it becomes easier and easier to make those big calls with marginal hands.
The Pros and Cons of a LAG Poker Strategy
There's no such thing as a perfect strategy in poker, whatever way you decide to play, there will be pros and cons. Let's have a look at what the pros and cons are of playing a LAG poker strategy:
- Extremely effective against tight lineups.
- Allows you to accumulate chips in the late stages of a tournament.
- It's a very fun strategy to play when you're on an upswing.
- Puts maximum pressure on your opponents and makes you hard to read.
- Tough to balance your betting ranges (tendency to naturally over-bluff).
- Increases variance.
- Can be mentally tough to play when going through a downswing.
- Can be a costly strategy when used in unsuitable games.
We recommend that if you want to start playing a loose-aggressive strategy you should increase your bankroll requirements for the stakes you're playing. When you play so many hands and play them in an aggressive way, you're going to increase your variance and will need a bigger bankroll to be able to handle the swings.
When things are going right for you, playing a loose-aggressive strategy is one of the most fun ways you can play poker. You're involved in the action a lot more often and it feels great when you're getting bluff after bluff through. However, it's a very tough strategy to play well, as the wider your preflop range is the harder it becomes to manage postflop. It's almost impossible to avoid over-bluffing in the majority of spots, even for experienced players, so it's best to only use this strategy when you're playing in games where you're confident that your opponents will be playing too tight.
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