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How to Be a Tight Poker Player

Learn how to be a tight poker player from poker champion Nick "Nicky Numbers" Brancato in this Howcast video.


Hey. I'm a professional poker player, Nicky Numbers. I'm going to talk to you today about how to be a tight player. The first thing to know about being a tight player is that it's very easy. You just simply don't play any hands. The tightest player in the world plays no hands or maybe they play one hand: just pocket aces. So, basically, to be a tight player just means that you voluntarily contribute money into the pot with a low frequency. The lower the frequency, the tighter you are. The higher your frequency, the loser you are.

To be a tight player you're rarely putting money in the pots. There are a couple of ways you could be a tight player. You could be a tight passive player, or you could be a tight aggressive player. A tight passive player is rarely playing pots, but when they do play a pot they're entering it passively. So they're limping in the pots; they're calling raises; they're rarely raising themselves, and even more rarely than that, re-raising themselves pre-flop. On the flop, these are players who you're regularly going to see check/call or check/fold. When someone else makes a bet, they just call. It's extremely difficult to be successful playing tight passively.

The reason is because you're simply not playing enough hands and when you do play hands you're not getting value on them because you're not escalating the size of the pot. In addition, because you're playing passively, you're rarely creating full deck with it, which is the value gained by taking an aggressive action that sometimes results in you winning an uncontested pot. So, you're not getting value on your hands explicitly just by betting and raising with them as someone would, but then you're also not getting value from the hands that you play by bluffing. If you're going to play tight poker, you want to be a tight aggressive player.

It means that you're not playing that many hands but when you do play you're coming in with guns blazing: You're raising pre-flop; you're re-raising pre-flop; you're betting on the flop; you're opponent bets on the flop; you're raising on the flop. Basically, when you continue in the hand, you're almost always continuing in an aggressive manner. Playing a tight passive style at the poker table is a very problematic one because you're never maximizing value on hands and you're also never making people fold. When I say never, I don't mean never, but effectively never. Tight aggressive, on the other hand, comes out swinging. They play their hand strong. They make people fold, and they get value by being paid off on their premium holdings. Tight aggressive poker is a winning style.

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