re: Poker & Optimal strategy in loose aggressive game
Deffinitely play the way you played. Very tight and then jam it when you hit a good flop.
I play in a lot of 1/2 games that are like this....the standard raise is $10-$15, which sounds on par with the game you described, and even a $15 raise will get three or four to the flop. I CRUSH these games long term, and you will crush that game long term if you play the way you did. What will not happen, or only very rarely, is you being the guy that made the most money at the end of the night. I am almost never that guy at the supper loose aggressive 1/2 games I frequent. But I do notice something...the guy that makes the most money one day ends up losing money the next day.
When I first started sitting at these games, I thought the same thing you did. I noticed that the players that were cleaning up were speculating with a lot of hands and then winning huge pots when they hit a lucky flop. I experimented several times with that strategy and although I had one or two big winning sessions, most of the time, I fell short of what I would have had if I had played tight.
Here's what will happen if you speculate in these games: Since every single pot is raised, even if you want to come in with 78s, for example, you have to come in for at least 5BB....pot odds might compensate for the 5BB call in late position with suited connectors, but on the flop, if you flop some kind of draw, the bet is going to be very expensive because the pot on the flop is going to be about 25BB. So if someone hits top pair, they are likely going to bet 25BB or more....now might want to call that to see the turn and try to hit your draw if one other player calls before you giving you 3:1 on your call....now the pot is 100BB and the next bet is for all your chips. If you haven't hit your draw yet, you probably have to fold and you're down 1/4 of your stack all because you tried to hit a miracle with 78s.
So suited connectors are garbage in games like that for long term success.
The BEST hand in a game like that is a pocket pair. Always see a flop with a pocket pair, even for a 7BB pre flop raise. You get decent pot odds
off the bat with 4 or 5 callers and those players, if you flop a set against top pair or an overpair, it's stackin time!
Also, there is a lot of drawing in games like that. If you think you ahve the best hand on the flop, don't try to give them slightly incorrect odds on their draw by betting slightly over the pot and trying to induce a call...they don't even know what pot odds means. Way overbet everything so you get the most value when you are ahead. If you get someone to fold a flush draw on the flop (and this will rarely happen in this kind of game), consider yourself lucky and take the pot as it is. But more often than not, you will overbet the pot and the flush draw will call, committing himself to going all in on the turn when he misses his flush. If he hits on the river, you still got him to put all his chips in on a draw. So pump the pot as much as possible when you have the best hand.
So in short, super tight=super right, bet extra hard on a great flop, stay away from speculative hands, play all pocket pairs, pump them if you flop a set and dump them if you don't.
p.s. Don't try to put players on a hand...you will be wrong most of the time. I have noticed players fold J9 in late position for a limp and then call with 75 in early position for a raise....there is almost no pattern to their play. they just do what they feel like doing at the moment. Which is why super tight aggressive play is the only way to win long term. You just play your cards. On the bright side, this takes a lot of the guess work in poker out of these games and you can often have a few drinks and have a good time while still playing this way, since paying attention to the game is mostly a waste of time and mental energy.