How to play against loose online players

The most common opponent you are likely to face at an online poker table is the loose opponent. Most complaints you will hear from most experienced players involve loose players. They are the source of most “bad beats” and can cause frustration for even the most talented of sharks.

The only way to beat these loose players is to made adjustments to your game. Here are a few things you can do to adjust your game for a loose opponent.

A loose player is generally defined as a player that plays a lot of hands, no matter the quality. You can spot the loose player by watching what cards he plays to showdown. Pay particular attention to hands that are raised before the flop. Keep notes on what cards he will call with to a substantial pre-flop raise. Be careful not to over-estimate calls made on the blinds or in position. Look for weak hands that call one or more raises in poor position.

While loose play is generally a losing strategy because it costs money to see so many flops and cards post flop, it has the advantage of masking the strength of the loose player’s hand. If he will play any two cards, you never know if he is playing good cards or bad cards. Either he is just an action junkie that likes to play every hand, or his plan is to spend a little money on every hand with hopes to win enough big hands to make up the difference.

There are, of course, a few different types of loose players. There are three categories of looseness. There are loose passive players, who are called Blackjack Players. Blackjack players approach the poker table just like they approach the blackjack table. They get two cards, they make their bet and they are going to see what they get. They hope for a 21, if not, they hope the dealer busts. They call every hand pre-flop no matter how much is raised, and call every street down to the river hoping to make their hand. If they lose, they don’t care, there’s another hand of blackjack being dealt in a couple of moments. Another chance to win their money back.

The second category is the Calling Station. Calling stations don’t play quite as many hands as the Blackjack player. They might exercise a little bit of pre-flop selection, but if they see a flop and hit any part of it, they are going to call down to the river.

The third and most dangerous of the loose players are loose aggressive players, or LAGs (Loose Aggressive Guys). The LAG will bet and raise with a large range of hands. Just because a LAG raises, doesn’t mean he has a good hand. It doesn’t really mean anything. Just because a LAG doesn’t raise doesn’t mean anything either. LAGs often raise with weak hands and call with super-strong hands, trying to be “crafty.”

Once you have identified the particular type of loose player you are up against, you can use a strategy against him to increase your chances of winning against him. For all these players, the first and most important thing you must do is play tighter than normal.

If you are facing the Blackjack Player, You must play tight. When you actually enter a pot it is important to raise as often as possible. If he wants to see more cards, you have to make him pay as much as you can to see those cards. You can assume that you are entering the hand with superior cards, but you will often get out-drawn by these players. It is important to calculate pot odds very carefully with drawing hands. Math is on your side against these players. As long as they don’t get extraordinarily lucky, you will win against these players in the long run. You will take bad beats from these players, and it is very important to control yourself to keep off tilt. Do not try to bluff these players, but you may be able to call them down with ace high if you don’t think they have caught anything.

If you are facing the calling station, don’t bet as often as you would against a Blackjack Player. Never slow play a big hand against them, as they are going to call your bets anyway. Any pair larger than bottom pair can worth betting against these players. Top pair is almost a lock and should be played to the river unless overcards come. Do NOT bluff these players. They simply will not fold. Count on them always having at least one face card or ace in their hand. If a calling station should raise, consider folding immediately. You can assume he has the nuts or something close.

When facing a LAG, the most important thing to accomplish is to isolate. You can beat the LAG with marginal hands, but your other opponents should have tightened up as well, and you don’t want to take a marginal hand too far against more than your LAG. Don’t raise this player unless you are sure you are ahead, which is difficult to tell against this player. Let him do the betting until you are sure you have him beat. Since you are only playing premium hands against this player, usually any high pair is good enough to call down to the river. This player loves to play fancy and make “moves” so don’t be surprised by any bets, and don’t be fooled into thinking those bets mean anything. There will be swings as the pot sizes can be quite large, but if you play the right hands against this player, you can make a substantial profit.

The most important thing to remember when playing loose opponents is that they will catch cards. It is going to happen. They will hit goofy straights and catch runner-runner flushes against you. Bad beats are inevitable. DO NOT TILT. Keep playing solid tight poker against them, and your solid wins will out number and out stretch the bad beats.