Have some poker players gotten too aggressive?

When I broke into poker it was not even a debatable point, you played tight and aggressive. That was it. End of story. But during the early stages of the poker boom the conventional wisdom shifted, and players started having very good results implementing a looser and even more aggressive style of poker. As the years have gone by, and players have seen the validity of the LAG style of play, this style has become even looser and even more aggressive, to a point where I feel the strategies employed by most LAG players is now exploitable by the nitty TAG players of old.

You see, while the kids have gotten looser and more aggressive, the TAG’s of the world have started to adjust as well, usually loosening up a bit themselves and ramping up their aggression to exploit other Tight and/or Passive players. That being said, old habits die hard, and when push comes to shove a lot of these veteran players (I’ll lump myself in with that crowd) have a tendency to fall back into their TAG ways when one of the young guns starts pushing back. Since we can’t out LAG a LAG, what we’ve done is almost ingenious in its own way and may very well have tipped the scales back in the tight aggressive players’ direction.

In order to out agro us, the LAG’s of the world have gotten so loose and aggressive that they are now exploitable to a particular style: The Tight, SEMI-Aggressive player. Basically instead of stepping on the accelerator and turning themselves into pseudo-LAG’s, by tapping the brakes a little a TAG can outmaneuver their ultra-LAG opponents by taking on the role of a calling station (a calling station that is playing good hands of course).  Essentially, we let the LAG overextend and concede the role of table captain to the LAG, and in doing so we gain the advantage.

The ultra-LAG’s style depends on him putting his opponents to difficult decisions and applying constant pressure, so a player who is essentially playing a pot-control game when he has something like middle or top pair can thwart the LAG’s plans, keeping the pot small (or smaller) and avoiding that difficult decision of “does he have it, or is he pushing me around?”

Now, this tight/semi-passive style is not ideal for most situations, but it is ideal for a situation where one of your opponents decides they are simply going to out-agro the entire table, and they ramp up their aggression factor to a point where they can be exploited by a calling station. One situation where this style will pay huge dividends is when you have an opponent who will routinely fire two and three barrels. Generally, when these players get played back at on the flop or turn by a TAG they’ll just shut it down and wait for their next opportunity to bully them. By going into call-down mode early in the hand you keep them firing.

It may not be the prettiest style of poker, and it may give you fits when the LAG is actually hitting hands, but trying to out-agro someone who is already teetering on being a maniac is a terrible idea; the only real way to counteract these ultra-LAG players is to call them down.

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