Loose-Aggressive Poker: How to Beat It

Any style of play can win money at poker, but the majority of winning players play tight-aggressive or loose-aggressive. It is time for some loose-aggressive strategy seeing how we covered how to beat tight-aggressive players last week.

What is a Loose-Aggressive Style?

Loose-aggressive, or LAG, is a style of poker that is considered to be the most dangerous. At least this is true when a LAG player is skilled. You see, loose-aggressive players tend to come in two guises. The first is the reckless maniac who relies on pure aggressive. The other is highly skilled and a pain in the ass, especially if they have position on you.

LAG players play many more starting hands than their TAG counterparts. Where a TAG tends to play stronger, more premium holdings, LAGs can and do play any two cards. This makes a LAG player extremely difficult to read because they also receive strong cards in addition to weak ones.

What Are The Strengths of a LAG Style?

The biggest strength of a loose-aggressive style is they are so difficult to put on a hand. TAGs are easier to read for the fact they play a narrower range. LAGs, however, can turn up with all sorts of weird and wonderful hands that you would not dream of playing.

LAGs have an uncanny knack of getting their big hands paid off handsomely. Why is this? Because nobody believes that they have the goods. Poker players either forget loose-aggressive opponents also receive powerhouse hands like aces and kings. They also second guess themselves and pay them off when the LAG has somehow made two pair.

Put yourself in this scenario where our opponent is a good LAG player at a $1/$2 cash game. We raise to $6 with pocket queens and a solid LAG three-bets to $15. A TAG player in this spot has a narrow range of hands, but a good LAG could have anything. We call and the flop falls J-9-7. We have an overpair to board, but our LAG friend could have us well and truly beaten. They will bet almost 100-percent of the time if we check. We will face at least a call, perhaps a raise, if we lead out. The LAG has put us in a bad spot.

Think of the hands they may have. They could easily have a set of jacks, nines, or sevens. Aces and Kings are possible. Jack-nine or nine-seven is a possibility, even ten-eight. Maybe they are making a move with five, sixes or eights? Could it be ace-ten, ace-jack, ace-queen or ace-king? We are in a horrible spot despite holding the third-best preflop hand in hold’em!

What Are The Weaknesses of a LAG Style?

It looks like there are no weaknesses to a loose-aggressive style based on the strengths we just covered, but there are chinks in a LAGs armour. The most significant weakness is it is easy to fall into traps and pay off big hands. This is because a LAG pounces on weakness like a lion on its weakened pray.

A good, thinking player will play passively against a LAG when they have hands such as sets. LAG will see the checks as weakness and take a stab at the pot only to discover the bad news on later streets.

Loose-aggressive players also see large fluctuations in their stack sizes in both cash games and tournaments. It can be a stressful style of poker to employ. This considered, LAGs require a larger bankroll than a typical TAG because both their losses and wins tend to be larger.

In terms of tournament poker, LAGs either bust out early or find themselves with a large stack. The latter is good because it gives them chance to win the tournament. It is also crucial for a LAG to have plenty of chips as their style revolves around putting opponents to their test for their entire stacks at all times.

How to Beat a Loose-Aggressive Player

You should be able to tell by now that LAGs are a real pain to play against. The best way to beat a LAG is to play a completely opposite style, that is more tight-passive. Only does this, however, when you have a strong hand. Allow the LAG to do the betting for you before putting a raise in on the turn or river. They could be too invested in the pot by this stage to find a fold.

Another way to beat a LAG only really works against thinking, solid LAGs. These players are still aggressive, but can smell danger and will duck out of the way when they face resistance; a bit like a school bully. With this in mind, a good strategy can be to fight fire with fire.

For example, you raise preflop from the button with king-ten offsuit and a good LAG three-bets from the big blind. If they have continually defended their blinds with a raise of their own, you could four-bet despite your weak holding. The majority of LAGs will fold everything except their strongest hands in this situation, and seeing how they will not have a strong hand often, you get to scoop the pot without showdown.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.

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