How To Beat A Tight Player

Beating a tight player is actually the easiest player to beat at your table, granted everyone else at your table has a basic knowledge of reading an opponent and what cards constitute good cards / what cards constitute bad cards. The table you definitely don’t want to be at if a tight player is sitting there as well is a table full of Calling Stations. The Tight Player will slowly but surely (and systematically) take every last chip from the Calling Stations and will be left with a huge chip stack which is almost impossible to take away from the Tight Player. One Calling Station at the table is fine but when you have multiple stations to feed the Tight Player chips every time they hold a real hand you’re in for some real trouble. Our only reason suggestion for winning at a table consisting of a couple Calling Stations and one Tight Player is for you to take all the chips from the Calling Stations before they have a chance to feed the Tight Player their chips, thus allowing the blinds to slowly eat away at the Tight Player as the blinds were meant to at any other table.

Hopefully the Tight Player sits at a table that consists of skilled poker players as opposed to beginners. If there are more skilled players than beginners than the Tight Player does not stand a chance against the lot of you. Basically you and the other skilled poker players at the table are going to blind steal, pre flop raise, check – raise, and avoid every pot that the Tight Player raises. By doing so you will allow the blinds to eat away at the Tight Player as they wait for quality hands to play. Without a bunch of Calling Stations for the Tight Player to feed off of (no one calls the Tight Player’s raises or plays in pots with the Tight Player) the Tight Player will slowly run out of chips (or drop to a level where an all in bet doesn’t scare anyone away from calling) and be absolutely no threat (or maybe a small threat) to everyone at the table.

The hardest part about beating the Tight Player is making sure that no one else at the table will play along in any hands with them as well. Hopefully the table at which you sit will have enough players who have (at the bare minimum) a basic concept of the game and will know to steer clear of pots with a Tight Player. Any players that wind up involved in multiple pots with the tight player (they call with terrible starting hands such as King Five off suit when the Tight Player makes a large pre flop raise) should also be viewed as the number one threat at the table and must be dealt with immediately. Rather than focusing all your attention on eliminating the Tight Player you should be focusing all your attention on eliminating the weaker players that are feeding the Tight Player their chips. You will be cutting off the Tight Player’s lifeline at the table to winning pots and thus disallowing them from becoming a threat by targeting the Tight Player’s allies rather than the Tight Player itself. Use this analogy when thinking of a Tight Player’s presence at the table. The Tight Player is the seat of the chair and the Calling Stations / Opponents playing pots against the Tight Player are the legs of the chair below the seat. For every leg of the chair you remove the chair becomes more and more unstable until, finally, it falls to the ground from lack of support.

Attacking the Tight Player head on will only lead to you losing unnecessary chips in pots you should never have been involved in. We’re not telling you not to play Premium Hands against the Tight Player (premium hands are basically pocket anything above tens, suited connector face cards, and one gapped suited connector face cards) we’re just saying that its a terrible idea to wind up in a pot against a Tight Player with a speculative hand such as 87 suited that may or may not win this particular pot. Granted you may wind up taking all of their chips occasionally, but over the long haul the Tight Player will have won more chips from you through large pre flop / flop raises than you will have from making speculative calls to hit open ended or inside straights. Wipe out their means of collecting chips rather than wiping out the Tight Player. The fish feeding the Tight Player will be much easier to beat in the short run anyway (unless they continuously get lucky against you, which over time can’t happen. Case in point Chris Moneymaker, dead last in the Poker Superstars Invitational after 5 rounds of play {even the players above him have currently only played in 4 rounds to his 5, adding insult to injury}) and, without them, the Tight Player will have absolutely no chance of collecting enough chips to survive. Sure, the Tight Player may win a few blinds here and there but in the long run without opponents to call their raises they will be withered away to nothing or will have to switch gears from a Tight Player to a Loose Player. The Tight Player switching gears should be one of the greatest moments for you at the poker table simply because Tight Players can’t play the same way Loose Players do. Loose Players (good ones anyway) have the ability to bet with nothing yet convince their opponents they hold a great hand yet at the same time hold a great hand and convince their opponents they hold nothing. Tight players simply do not have this ability. Sure, they may get away with a few bluffs here and there because everyone thinks they hold a great hand but, sooner or later, if a Tight Player starts raising more frequently their opponents will catch on and because of the Tight Player’s basic nature will not be able to hide their obvious tells as to whether or not they are bluffing or holding a great hand, mostly because of lack of experience in such situations. Practice makes perfect and unfortunately for the Tight Player they have only been practicing playing with great hands that hold a higher percentage to win the pot that most hands (or at worse 45 – 55 underdog against a pocket pair, basically a coin flip) and thus have no real experience with pulling off bluff after bluff holding garbage hands or playing flops in such a way that opponents will have no choice but to fall into their trap.

The Tight Player is condemned to the box in which they have built their rules of strategy and betting in poker on and will have a difficult time changing gears to win pots when the opponents just stop calling when the Tight Player holds a monster hand. Without a Calling Station or two (maybe even an overly loose player who lacks the ability to read an opponent aka a Level 1 Loose Player) to feed the Tight Player chips blinds and antes will just eat away at them until they are nothing. Depending on how tight your opposition is (incredibly tight players will only play about 10% of total starting hands whereas a tight player who is also skilled in playing a few drawing hands will play about 25% of total starting hands) will determine how quickly those blinds will eat them away to nothing. Clearly a player who will not play anything that isn’t a top quality hand will be dwindled down to nothing without opponents calling their large raises very quickly whereas the player who can open up their game to play more starting hands will dwindle down slower but eventually will meet the same end result. The only way to win in Texas Hold Em is to play, and when you play you have to win the pots you are in. If no one is playing against a specific opponent those pots will be much smaller and due to the nature of starting hands will be much more infrequent than an opponent playing 40% of their total starting hands. And without a good understanding of how to win without great cards will hurt the Tight Player in the long run when the time to pick a hand to attempt to double up on rolls around, as they will either have such a small amount of chips from waiting for great cards that doubling up (or even quadrupling up) will have no immediate benefit to their chip stack compared to the overall size of everyone else’s chip stacks or will try and play a looser style of game and will be eliminated for choosing the wrong hand to try and double up on.

Summary. Attack the players that give the Tight Player chips as opposed to attacking the Tight Player directly. Let the blinds cut away at the chip stack of the Tight Player until they are either A) too low in chips to be viewed as an immediate threat or B) change gears and start making terrible decision calls at which point you will attack the Tight Player and take away their chips (or let them double up in which case you will just have to wait awhile until the blinds have once again done their job and you have another opportunity to eliminate the Tight Player.)

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