Beating tight players in poker is a very different process than beating loose players. When you are facing looser opponents, your goal should be to make hands and capitalize when you have the other player beat.
With tighter opponents, however, your focus should be on how to squeeze out every nickel and dime possible. Tight players tend to be apprehensive when it comes to getting in pots without big hands, and while this will make it tougher to beat them at showdown, it also makes them easier to beat without a showdown. You will find that it is easy to beat these players out of small pot after small pot.
The reason that many people don’t bother with tight opponents is because they don’t have a good chance of taking down a big pot. If your entire stack goes in the middle against a tight player, the odds are that you either colered them or you lost. In the end, beating tight players is just easy as beating loose players, you just need to be a bit more methodical in your approach.
Much of your profits against tighter opponents should be had pre-flop. This is the stage in the hand where someone who is scared to get into pots will instantly exit the premises. To counter this terrible strategy, you should be picking off every single pot that becomes available to you. There is not going to be a pile of riches sent your way when you are playing against tight opponents, but you can slowly bleed them dry. Often times, tight players wont even know where their money went as they go to reload yet again. The truth is that they slowly lose it one hand at a time, be it through ill timed limps or by paying the blinds. No matter how they put their money in the pot, it is your job to take it away.
Pre-flop strategy against tight players is about as straightforward as it gets. Once you have identified which of your opponents are playing tighter than they should be, all that you need to do is apply the pressure. Of course, it is not quite this simple. Each spot that you are in will call for a slightly different approach. For example, a tight player in the blinds will call for a small steal attempt nearly every hand that you play on the button. If a player limps into the pot, however, you would play the hand slightly differently.
Before you decide how you are going to play against someone, you should first take some consideration into how they tend to play. Some tight players will only raise or re-raise when they enter pots, while other tight players don’t even like to make raises and elect to simply call bets. If the tight player you are up against tends to limp and then call any raise pre-flop, making a steal or re-steal attempt would be futile. Instead, this is the type of spot where you should just move along. Likewise, if a tight player has opened the action, depending on their tightness, you may just want to give up on the hand altogether.
Part of the beauty in playing (and beating) tight opponents is that you will seldom be required to make any significant investments. If you want to stack a loose player, you are going to be forced to make and call some bets and raises. With tight players, however, this is hardly the case. A small raise, a small bet, or a small re-raise is all that is generally needed to get a tight player off their hand. If you have to do much more than this, you know that you are going to have a tough time forcing a fold no matter what.
Stealing the blinds against a tight player is the easiest way to pick up some free money. They will be laying their hand down a high percentage of the time, and you are not left with many (any) other players to deal with. In this spot, you do not need to make an excessively large raise to take down the pot. Instead, you should actually try and trim down your traditional raise sizes. For example, if you would raise to 3x or 3.5x when trying to steal the blinds against an average opponent, you could change that to 2.5x against the tight player. The odds are that if they were going to fold to a 3x raise, they will fold to a 2.5x raise too.
Stealing the blinds and generally aggressive play is the safest and most fool proof way to ensure pre-flop profits against tighter opponents. If you are up for the idea of some increased variance, you could also try and make some re-steals. Re-steals are best suited for the players who are tight, but also lay down a lot of their hands after raising. Yes, you would think that almost every tight player is prone to a lay down, but this is not the case. There are a lot of tight players who will only get involved when they have something that they will rarely fold before the flop. This could mean they never fold JJ, or that they only play kings and aces. Whatever the case may be, these are not players who you should be re-stealing against. Instead, eye up those players who make small, weak raises and give up when they face further opposition. These are the players who are sitting ducks just waiting to throw their money away, one small pot at a time.
Post-flop strategy is when things tend to get a bit more involved against tight opponents. Since you know that the player has a more selective range of hands that they are playing before the flop, it also means that they are more likely to have a big hand after the flop. As a result, it is more difficult to continuation bet and get folds from these types of players. With that said, however, it does not mean that a c-bet does not make sense.
Giving up is the best play that you will have available in many situations against a tighter player. If you took a shot by betting the flop and got called, don’t be afraid to shut down on the turn. These players are much like calling stations, except for the fact that they only call with very strong hands. You would need to be a very serious glutton for punishment if you continued to push your luck any further than the flop against the majority of tight poker players.
There is one breed of tight players that is just perfect for value betting. As contradictory as it might seem, there are some tight players who just hate to let go of their hands. Now, this sounds a bit deceiving, so keep reading. The tight players who don’t fold their hands tend to wait for something super strong pre-flop, and then they play it to the death post-flop. A good example would be a player who is dealt pocket kings pre-flop. They would make an open raise, get called, and then fire out until their money is gone unless an ace came to slow them down. These are the players who you want to play pots with because it can mean you are going to get paid off when you hit your hand. Yes, these players do have strong hands, but they completely neglect the fact that someone else could have caught up with the help of the board. Spotting these type of opponents is not easy, so you should only play a hand according to this strategy if you have seen some with these tendencies. You will need to get a little lucky on the flop, but when you do, get ready to take home a big win.