This is a discussion on Mixing it up within the online poker forums, in the Learning Poker section; I've seen a couple of styles of play recommended: TAG, LAG, etc. But my question is, isn't it best to mix it up? Why play
I've seen a couple of styles of play recommended: TAG, LAG, etc. But my question is, isn't it best to mix it up? Why play predictably? Are these supposed to be more general terms or rules to live by?
I ask because recently it seems best to me (in my limited experience) to be somewhat unpredictable -- without being a maniac, of course.
For example, there might be a case to be passive rather than aggressive during one hand, but the exact opposite during the next. Also, couldn't your aggression change with each street? What about trapping and bluffing? And what if you're a TAG player, but you want to throw in the occasional win with something like 98 suited, perhaps even raising it like you would with pocket queens or better?
I'm almost strictly a MTTs player, so any comments and opinions in that regard would be nice to read. Thanks in advance and good luck to everyone at the tables!
I think you answered your own question somewhat. It is good to mix it up, but also important to know yourself and your own tendencies as a player. Some players will think they are doing one thing but are actually playing recklessly. Suddenly widening your range has a tendency of getting you into trouble with marginal holdings, which opens up the door to greater reverse implied odds. There are pros and cons to both approaches .. being consistent keeps it simple so that a player doesn't easily get confused, at the expense of being exploited for being predictable. Being variable may seem less exploitable, but it takes a lot of discipline to let go of hands that connect in a way that looks good but will end up costing the player dearly.
Mixing up your playing style isn't about playing a different way every few hands. It's about establishing one table image and then shifting your style to be different to catch people off guard. I know of 4 main ways of playing: TAG (Tight Aggressive), LAG (Loose Aggressive), Tight Passive, Loose Passive. Where the Passive versions are where you do a whole lot of checking and calling and not as much raising or bluffing.
The most important thing about mixing up your playing style is to establish a table image and know what table image you have established. For example, you may have every intention of playing TAG and establishing a TAG table image, but if your first 3 out of 9 hands are good playable hands, then it is going to appear to the table that you are a loose maniac player, even if you are not. On the opposite end, if you intend to play LAG, but get hands so bad not even a LAG player would play them and you fold the first 9 or so hands, you're going to be seen as a TAG player.
The second thing is to take the time to establish the table image. If you sit down, play 4 hands as TAG and then throw in a LAG hand then no one is going to fall for it. They have no clue your intention is to play TAG, all they know is the new guy is playing a hand right away. But not only is this important when you first sit down at a table, but also when someone new joins the table. Let's say you play 3 orbits as a TAG player and everyone at the table knows you're playing TAG. If some new guy sits at the table, that new guy has no idea you are a TAG player. So while it would be good to play LAG when the other players are in a hand, you would still have to play TAG while that person is in the hand.
And another thing along those lines is playing against good or bad players. If the players at the table are poor players then they will not pick up on your playing style. They simply won't care what your table image is because they are only playing their two cards regardless of what your table image is. You need to be sure the players at the table will track and respect a table image before you decide to switch up your play.
There is a lot that goes into mixing up your play and if your plan is to just throw in some LAG hands for the hell of it then you're going to end up getting caught, so take the time to learn how to play LAG alone and then when you mix TAG and LAG you know when to get away from LAG hands and when to actually play them aggressively.
Mixing up your playing style isn't about playing a different way every few hands. It's about establishing one table image and then shifting your style to be different to catch people off guard. I know of 4 main ways of playing: TAG (Tight Aggressive), LAG (Loose Aggressive), Tight Passive, Loose Passive. Where the Passive versions are where you do a whole lot of checking and calling and not as much raising or bluffing...
Thanks for your reply. It makes a lot of sense.
It's interesting you mention table image. My friend (Mustafajones) and I were just talking about that in relation to this post. He was advising me on some similar points. Essentially, as you say, it's more about playing with your image in mind, not just a style for the style's sake.
Also, it's not that you can't fully adopt a style for a while. It's just that you need to be prepared to adjust in order to take advantage of the hand and more importantly your opponents.
Anyway, thanks again for the reply. I feel like I'm starting to "level up" in the game thanks to a lot of the advice here on Cardschat from players such as yourself. Best of luck to you going forward!