3 Astonishing Secrets Behind the Thrilling World of Loose-Aggressive Players
For years, players have been asking the same question: How do you deal with loose-aggressive (LAG) players? Recently, a reader asked me this again, so I’ve decided to delve into the topic of LAG poker.
First, for those who might not be familiar, let’s briefly explain what the LAG style means. Loose-aggressive play refers to a style where a player plays a wide range of hands before the flop and frequently applies pressure with bets after the flop. It’s a flashy and enticing approach to the game, which is why people keep asking about it.
However, there are several lesser-known aspects of LAG play that you need to understand.
Most Loose-aggressive Players Aren’t Profitable
This might be the most crucial point of all. In your poker room, it’s entirely possible that the player who has won the most chips in recent months is a LAG player.
You watch them win hand after hand, and you can’t help but wonder, “They play almost every hand, yet they keep winning. What’s their secret?”
Here’s the catch: In your poker room, the player who has lost the most chips in recent months might also be a LAG player or at least someone with a loose style.
LAG style tends to create volatility, meaning significant swings between big wins and big losses. With a little luck, you can string together several big pots, creating the illusion of a winning streak.
When you witness these winning streaks, you might feel tempted to adopt the LAG style yourself. This is when LAG players seem to have it all figured out. However, what you don’t see is that when LAG players run into bad luck, they can go weeks losing chips day after day.
If you were to tally up the chip counts of most LAG players, you’d likely find that they are underwater. That’s not to say that LAG style can’t be profitable, but going all-in on being loose-aggressive simply isn’t enough.
Don’t Focus Solely on Pre-Flop Play
It’s apparent that the most cherished part of the LAG style is pre-flop play. LAG players often engage in a wide range of hands, including some pretty poor ones.
You might come to the conclusion that the key to success in this strategy is to play loosely before the flop. For instance, you may think that when adopting a LAG style, “you could have any two cards at any time.” In other words, you can play 9-7 offsuit from the middle position because no one can guess your hand.
But that’s just a misconception! The true magic of the LAG style happens after the flop. A successful LAG player (meaning they are profitable in the long run) can change their game and play tightly before the flop and still succeed.
The “tight” LAG player is just as enigmatic because opponents still can’t guess their hands. What people struggle to figure out is what happens after the flop. Of course, having a wide pre-flop range does add an air of mystery, but not as much as you might think. It’s not the core of this strategy.
The real secret of the LAG style lies in post-flop play, where they exploit two common mistakes made by opponents.
First, LAG players capitalize on those who fold too often, especially when facing medium-sized bets on the turn or river. Second, they take advantage of those who call too much, particularly players who like to call large river bets or all-ins.
At first, these two points might seem contradictory, but they can coexist.
LAG players make their first move by placing medium-sized bets on the turn and river to pressure opponents. If opponents have a mixed playing style, meaning they have a solid idea of what hands are worth calling with and which aren’t, this pressure can be very effective. For example, many players might call a bet with a straight or flush draw on the flop, but if the turn doesn’t improve their hand, they are likely to fold.
For instance, let’s say the flop comes Q♥7♦3♥, and a LAG player bets. An opponent calls. Then, the turn is 2♣, and the LAG player bets again. The opponent folds with T♥9♥ (T representing 10), thinking they only have a flush draw.
But the LAG player at this point could have any cards. They might have K4 or 65. The likelihood of the LAG player having a “premium hand” (like a good pair) is quite low.
LAG players leverage psychology. Many players will fold weak hands if the bet size exceeds a certain threshold, regardless of what cards their opponent may have.
This is how LAG players primarily profit, so you should understand that having a strong pre-flop range isn’t the critical factor. It’s how you play after the flop that supports the loose approach, not the other way around. LAG players must have judgment to select the right moments for these bets. If they use this strategy every time, it will quickly lose its effectiveness. Certain situations will certainly work better than others. As a LAG player, you can choose more suitable times based on board texture, player tendencies, and other clues.
The Final Thoughts
As I’ve mentioned earlier, post-flop play with small bets to steal pots and large bets with strong hands to extract value doesn’t require a very loose pre-flop strategy. You can play tight before the flop and still win chips this way. However, exceptional LAG players often expand their pre-flop range, allowing them to win more chips.
So, if you want to adopt the LAG style, don’t rush to change your pre-flop play. Put it aside for a while and focus on honing your post-flop game. Learn how to use medium-sized bets to take down pots on the turn and river while building an image that will help you get paid off with maximum bets on the river.
Once you’ve mastered your post-flop play, you can start widening your pre-flop range to win even more chips.
In poker, being a successful LAG player requires more than just playing loose. It’s about exploiting opponents’ tendencies, making well-timed bets, and mastering the psychological game that occurs after the flop. So, whether you’re a LAG enthusiast or just curious about this style, remember that the true secrets lie beyond the pre-flop cards and in the art of post-flop play.