Using a TAG Poker Strategy? Here’s Why You May Want to Reconsider Your Playing Style….

Using a TAG Poker Strategy? Here’s Why You May Want to Reconsider Your Playing Style….

In the past, a Tight-Aggressive (TAG) poker style was considered the gold standard, but times have changed. The poker world has evolved, and the TAG style that once reigned supreme is no longer as effective as it once was.

While TAG poker is a solid foundation for beginners, adapting your strategy becomes crucial to counter aggressive opponents who aim to take advantage of your tight play and will pressure you to give up your blinds.

Understanding TAG Poker Strategy

TAG Poker Strategy strongly emphasizes carefully selecting your hands and betting aggressively when in a hand – TAG players typically play a limited number of hands, favoring strong opening hands and folding weaker ones.

They then apply pressure with well-timed bets and raises, making it difficult for opponents to predict their moves. TAG style is often considered the cornerstone of winning poker because it balances risk and reward.

TAG versus LAG Playing Style

  • TAG (Tight-Aggressive) and LAG (Loose-Aggressive) are popular poker-playing styles. In contrast to LAG players who chase multiple small pots, TAG poker players are highly selective in the hands they choose to play and avoid getting involved in pots where they lack an advantage.
  • TAG players combine selectivity and aggressiveness, aiming to capitalize on their opportunities. While it may appear less exciting when they patiently wait for strong hands, this strategy can be quite lucrative when executed correctly.
  • LAG (Loose Aggressive) players are known for their relentless aggression and are involved in multiple pots. They do not fear losing hands and prefer being actively engaged rather than passively observing.
  • They often raise or re-raise to build pots and put pressure on opponents. TAG players aim to control the table by taking the lead in betting, forcing their opponents to make decisions under pressure.
  • It is challenging to distinguish between a LAG player and Aggro-Maniacs, as the line between them is pretty subtle.
  • The critical difference lies in hand selection and aggression. TAGs are picky with their hands and aggressive with strong ones, while LAGs are more liberal in hand selection and aggressive with a broader range.
  • The choice between these styles depends on a player’s personality, skill level, and game dynamics. A balanced approach might blend both aspects to adapt to different situations at the poker table.

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The Four Kinds of Poker Players

Poker players exhibit various playing styles, which is their preferred way of playing the game. While some players adopt a specific style, less experienced ones often unconsciously display a particular style as they play.

Loose Aggressive (LAG)

As discussed earlier, LAG players are risk-takers who play a wide range of hands. Loose-aggressive players aggressively play a wide range of hands before and after the flop. A LAG player may three-bet you in position with a semi-bluff hand 7♠6♠, whereas a NIT cannot make this play.

Since LAG players are known to apply pressure and bluff, a good adjustment against them is to slow play strong hands in position. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when implementing the slow-play strategy.

While the goal is to extract maximum value by allowing the LAG player to catch up with weaker hands, the risk lies in giving them an opportunity to improve their hand or even outdraw you.

TAG (Tight-Aggressive)

Tight-aggressive players are selective regarding the hands they decide to play pre-flop, but they adopt an aggressive playing style once they are involved in a hand.

They pick their spots carefully and apply pressure when they have strong hands or the nuts. Exploiting TAGs cautious nature by strategically bluffing can be an effective tactic.

TAGs are susceptible to well-timed aggression, especially in position, where they may fold strong hands if the board appears threatening. Consider folding your hand when they show great resistance and start fighting back.

NITs (Tight-Passive)

NITs are extremely conservative players who rarely play beyond premium hands. Nits are known for their ultra-conservative approach to poker, prioritizing a limited selection of premium hands over taking calculated risks to build the pot.

They exercise great patience, wait for top-tier starting hands, and hesitate to engage in showdowns unless they hold the absolute best hand. You must take advantage of an NIT’s predictability by aggressively playing in position and stealing blinds.

Nonetheless, you have to be cautious when facing resistance from a NIT, as their range often comprises strong hands.

Calling Stations (Loose Passive)

These players tend to call bets and raise rather than make aggressive moves. Loose passive players tend to call with a wide range of starting hands, but their approach is generally non-aggressive. They often opt to limp in before the flop and frequently engage in calling and checking during post-flop play.

Their primary objective is to remain in the hand until the river. Beating a calling station requires a keen understanding of their tendencies. Betting for value with your strong hands and avoiding bluffing them is crucial since calling stations rarely fold.

Hand Example: TAG vs. NIT vs. LAG

Picture a scenario where three poker players, TAG, NIT, and LAG, are each dealt a 7♠8♥ hand

NIT (Tight-Passive Player)

When a NIT receives the 7♠8♥, they will almost certainly fold without much consideration.

Explanation: NIT’s style is risk-averse to the extreme. They are patient and cautious, avoiding potential losses associated with speculative hands. In this case, folding 7♠8♥ aligns with their overall strategy of preserving their chips and waiting for premium hands.

TAG (Tight-Aggressive Player)

When a TAG receives the 7♠8♥, they carefully assess their hand’s potential. In this scenario, TAG may choose to fold this hand or, at best, call when none of their opponents raise or three-bet pre-flop because it’s not very strong and falls off their range. TAG prefers playing premium hands and generally avoids marginal or speculative hands like 7♠8♥ to minimize risks. Folding this hand is their preferred course of action, preserving their stack for stronger opportunities.

Explanation: TAG’s decision reflects their disciplined approach to poker. They prioritize making profitable decisions and are less inclined to take unnecessary risks. By folding 7♠8♥, they aim to maintain a solid image at the table and wait for a stronger hand to play aggressively.

LAG (Loose-Aggressive)

When LAG gets the 7♠8♥ hand, they might decide to play it aggressively, raising or even three-betting to put pressure on their opponents.

Explanation: LAG players thrive on unpredictability and chaos. With a hand like 7♠8♥, they see the potential for a strong draw or a bluff. By playing it aggressively, they aim to create confusion and take control of the table, leveraging their aggressive image to gain an edge.

Old School Poker Players Versus LAG Players

Old-school poker players are pioneers in the poker industry.

While their experience and wisdom at the poker table are undeniable, many struggle to keep up with the young, aggressive players of today’s No-Limit (NL) games.

These old-school players are often characterized by their conservative playing style, commonly referred to as “nit” or, at most, “tight-aggressive” (TAG). They are cautious and methodical, emphasizing discipline, patience, and hand selection over flashy bluffs or unlimited aggression.

Their approach dates back to an era where poker was more about reading opponents and making calculated decisions rather than riding the rollercoaster of variance accompanying a loose-aggressive (LAG) strategy.

The disparity between old-school and new-school players is evident in how poker has evolved. Today’s game has been transformed by technology, training materials, and a wealth of available resources that were inconceivable in the past.

Younger players are armed with a deep understanding of game theory, advanced software tools, and a fearless attitude that allows them to take calculated risks that often confound their older counterparts.

With its aggressive betting and constant pressure, LAG-style play can leave traditional players feeling overwhelmed and out of their game. Senior players may struggle to adapt to NL games’ fast-paced, aggressive nature. However, it’s important to note that age is not a determinant of one’s poker skills. Many senior players can be highly skilled and competitive.

If you a senior poker player who wants to learn how to adjust to the new age poker scene, you might want to check out our Poker for Seniors + CP Membership Value Combo.

3,000 players and 300+ seniors have already used this training to get better at this game that all of us love so much.

Alec Torelli
Welcome! I'm Alec Torelli, founder of Conscious Poker, a training site dedicated to transforming good players into great ones by providing the best poker strategy and mindset content. I've been a professional poker player for 15 years and have over $1,500,000 in tournament winnings and millions more in both live and online cash games. On this site, I share the lessons I learned during my poker career to help you crush the games, optimize your bankroll, make winning decisions and achieve your poker goals.

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