To be perfectly honest, everyone hates a loose poker player. They are unpredictable, usually quite brash, and tough to get a read on. For all of these reasons, sitting at a poker table with a loose player or players can be quite frustrating. Loose players are simply not liked in the poker world. Poker by its very nature is unpredictable, and players don’t like to have another wild card thrown at them with a player making strange plays at odd times. The whole idea of good poker is to eliminate unpredictability and take advantage of high percentages. However, there is a method in the madness and it centers around unpredictability.
To be successful in poker, whether it is your weekly game in a buddy’s basement or at a high stakes table in Vegas, is to not be made. You want to hide your tells while finding your opponent’s, and throwing in a little unpredictability can do just that. Loose players can be successful. It is important to remember, playing loose is less of a poker strategy and more of a personality trait after all. In order to incorporate some loose play into your otherwise tight strategy is very wise and you can do so without being labeled just another annoying loose player.
Are You a Loose Player?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to figure out what kind of player you are. A loose poker player is the risk taker. They play the longshots and go all when they shouldn’t. They go with their gut and play impulsively. Is this you? Do you make big bets of any kind? You might be a loose poker player. The best way to tell is to give your poker game a good, honest look. Do you have a gameplan which you abandon almost immediately? Do you know when the proper time for a bluff is? These are all the tells of a loose player and the traits of a player you do not want to be.
Advantages to Playing Loose
Gambling like this sounds like a loser in the making and it should, especially in poker. Loose players go against good judgement and common sense. However, loose gamblers have moments where they capitalize off of their behavior because gut instinct can pay, the cards come in, and no one kicks themselves for impulsively jumping at a good wager. Plus, it’s just more fun to play it loose. That said, the greatest attribute a loose poker player has is just how annoying they are to the other players at the felt.
The head game aspect of poker is an important one after all and once a player is identified as a loose player, all eyes turn to them. Every ante, call, check, and raise is met with immediate interest and skepticism. This gives the loose poker player an edge. The best strategy to beat a loose player is simple. Let them beat themselves and continue on with your well-honed game. However, this is not easy to do with a loose player at the table. And what if there are multiple loose players sitting next to you. It is easy to lose sight of your game and focus on theirs, which is not the strategy that leads to success.
What Not to Do
There are a few locked-in rules to poker you simply can not ignore or forget to be a winner. You must know when the proper time to bluff is. You must know when the proper time to go all-in is and you must drive up pots that you have a chance to take. These three rules of the road are where loose players get themselves into trouble. For whatever reason, loose players are not good when it comes to these seemingly simple ideas. Maybe they are inexperienced or just new to the game. Maybe they are impatient and can’t take the slow pace natural to well-played poker. Whatever the reason is, this is the way they play and how you shouldn’t.
What to Do to Play Loose and Win
Once you figure out which type of player you are and know what type of loose player not to be, you’ll need to incorporate the positives of loose playing into your poker game. Be the best of both worlds, tight and loose. Find the smart way to bet on that long shot hand. Before you place a large raise on a big hand, listen to your gut and then just move on it. Take the best aspects of loose poker playing and combine them with the best aspects of tight betting. Knowing yourself will open your eyes to many more smart bets while narrowing your focus. Remember, being unpredictable is a positive. The best place to practice this is in a weekly game with players that know you. If you are deep into a game and deep in a chip count, take a chance of a flyer. An odd bluff, for example, can do wonders for you down the road.