Playing in Tight-Passive Games

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Playing in Tight-Passive Games

One of the often-overlooked skills in Fixed Limit Texas Holdem is the knack for game selection; you either have it or you dont. The ability to find the most profitable game can be just as important as a good sense of when to bluff, or skill at reading opponents. If you have a choice of which game to play, observing the different tables and finding the right seat will likely improve your poker earning potential.

Avoid them if you can

One type of game you should probably look to avoid if you are out for big profits is the Tight/Passive game. Poker styles are generalized according to two scales. One scale measures a player's likelihood to enter a pot; this is the Tight-Loose scale. The tighter a player is, the more likely he is to refuse to commit any chips without one of the best possible starting hands. An extremely loose player, by contrast, could be holding any two cards. The other scale measures how hard they bet once they enter a pot. This is the Aggressiveness-Passiveness scale. Passive players are less likely to commit chips to a pot, preferring to check and call rather than bet or raise. Aggressive players like to put pressure on their opponents, betting at every opportunity. To be a strong player, you should gravitate towards the Tight and Aggressive parts of the scales.
You should already be able to see the problem with a Tight-Passive (also called "tight weak") game. If these players are only entering pots with great hands, and not putting any chips in after the flop, where is the money coming from? It is a great question, and the answer sadly, is that these games are unlikely to yield big pots. Still, you might find this is the only game available, so you might as well know how to play in it.

How to adjust when you're in there

One maxim in poker is that you should play tighter against loose opponents and looser against tighter opponents. You don't want to get too crazy with this idea, but loosening up your hand requirements is probably a good way to attack a tight weak game. If a player bets in front of you, you usually don't want to come in with a marginal hand, since you know these players almost always bet from strength. If you are first to act though, you can vary your starting hands, and you should always come in with a raise. This will give your opponents an opportunity to do what you both want them to do, which is fold and give you the pot. Even if they call, when you bet the flop, they will probably lay down, since most flops miss most people and these players do not continue without a strong hand. If at any time these players show any resistance, you should get away unless you have a very strong hand yourself.
These games are not the least profitable; they simply pay off at a lower rate than a looser game. If you employ some solid aggression, you can definitely benefit from sitting at a tight weak table.

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