Beating Loose Players

hansen two pair-1Loose players are the most profitable type of opponents that you could ever hope to face. Though they will undoubtedly cause occasional frustration with their seemingly random hands, they are most likely to donate stack after stack. A lot of players will get upset when a loose (bad) player beats them out of a big pot, but this is the completely wrong way to go about beating them.

The best thing about loose players is that they tend to do most of the work for you. You won’t need to place value bets since they will call anything, and you don’t need to worry about making bluffs because you know they are never really going to fold. Loose players are the closest thing to money in the bank when you are playing poker. Yes, they are definitely going to get lucky and win from time to time, but this is what keeps them coming back for more.

Defining a loose player can be a challenge if you only have a limited sample size to work with. After you get through a handful of orbits with a player, however, you should have a pretty good feel for how they approach the game. If a player is limp calling all kinds of raises in every other pot, you can be pretty sure that they are way too loose for their own good. Now, it is important to note that there are some very big differences between loose players and aggressive players. More often than not, a loose player is calling down bets while an aggressive player is the one making the bets. Aggressive players are the complete opposite of loose players in that they are much tougher to beat. Watch out for aggressive opponents and take full advantage of the looser players.

Pre-Flop Strategy

Pre-flop is where you need to avoid getting yourself into some unnecessary trouble. It should go without saying that most loose players tend to hate folding just about anything before the flop. They figure that they have two cards and just about anything can come on the flop. While this is certainly true, it plays heavily into your favor. Beating loose players out of money pre-flop is a long term proposition with no short term guarantees. So long as you are getting your money in good, though, you can be assured of a significant profit. You are going to have runs, sessions, and maybe even days where the calling stations are just beating you out of every pot, but this is not your long term expectation.

Since a calling station, by name, is going to call down at every chance they get, making plays is all but useless. If you are facing some tighter players, stealing the blinds and re-stealing pre-flop will be one way to make some money. When you are facing the loosest players at your table, however, you should stick to some hands that have real value. This could mean playing anything from suited connectors to small pocket pairs and big pocket pairs. So long as there was a legitimate shot that you could wind up with a big winner at showdown, it is worth playing.

The key to playing with calling stations is being able to dictate the action to your own accord. In other words, you should be looking to super cheap investments wherever possible. If you can limp into some pots with suited connector type hands against a loose player, you are setting yourself up for some very profitable hands. On the other hand, calling off big bets or making big bets of your own with weak hands is nothing short of bankroll suicide.

Just as you should be looking to make small investments with more speculative hands, you should also be pumping up the action whenever you have a super strong starting hand. The primary characteristic of loose players is that they hate to fold their hands, so you can punish this tendency by making unordinary large raises and re-raises pre-flop. Say that you would normally open to 4x the big blind with pocket aces. If you are up against one or two loose players, it would only make sense to chance that bet size to 5x or 6x the big blind. You know they aren’t going to fold anyway, so you might as well squeeze as much money out of them as you can. Value betting before the flop is a great way to nickel and dime loose players.

Post-Flop Strategy

Post-flop is where the real money is to be made against loose players. Once you hit that big flop, you need to be able to string your fish all the way to showdown. It does little good if you get them to play the pot, you hit the board, and then they fold. The first thing you should do when assessing your post-flop strategy is determine whether they are more of a caller or a bettor. There are two common types of loose players: the guys who like to do the betting and the guys who like to call every bet. Once you know what type of player you are up against, the hand will be infinitely easier to play.

The post-flop strategy for beating these loose players is nothing short of incredibly simplistic. Let the guys bet who like to bet, and bet out at the guys who like to call. Applying one type of strategy to the opposite type of player is a great way to sacrifice large sums of money. There is no need to get tricky against these players because they won’t know what is going on anyway.

Once you get the action started, you still need to be able to keep them in the hand. Just as you did not want to force a fold on the flop, you don’t want to get a fold on the turn or river either. The precise strategy for keeping your opponent involved and interested will change from hand to hand, but it shouldn’t be a great puzzle trying to determine which plot will work the best.

As odd as it might sound, loose players are the easiest opponents to lay down hands against. If you are facing one of the players who tends to like to do the calling, you should be very wary when and if they decide to make a bet or raise. This usually means that they are done seeing card after card and now they want to go after your money. If you get into a pot with a loose caller, bet the flop, and then get raised on the turn, you had better put on the brakes. Yes, your opponent could be making a move on you, but it isn’t all that likely.

Loose players, whether they be callers or bettors, tend to stick to their mode of operation. As soon as a player strays from their usually set of plays, there is an increased chance that something suspicious is going on. The best play is to get out of the way when loose players start to get tricky. Even if they happen to be bluffing you, the money saved will be more than compensated for by all of the times where they do actually have a real big hand.