How to Beat LAG Players (It's Easier Than You Think!)

How to Beat a LAG Poker Player

This article was written by blackrain79.com contributor Fran Ferlan.

There are few things worse in poker than having an insanely aggressive player on your left who keeps pushing you out of the pot any chance they get.

And when you finally get a decent hand to trap them, they wake up with the stone-cold nuts and take away your stack!

It’s infuriating to say the least, and chances of anyone just pushing through and continuing to play their "A game" is pretty slim. 

So how do you deal with these loose and aggressive players effectively and without losing your cool?Well, last week I discussed how to play a LAG poker style yourself.

This week, I will break down the best tactical and strategic approaches, as well as some mindset shifts you need to make to win in poker consistently, even against difficult LAG opponents.


1. Not All LAGs Are Created Equal


In order to adjust to your opponent’s game, first you need to recognize what kind of a player they are. 

For simplicity’s sake, we can divide loose and aggressive players into two categories: good and bad. Each will require slightly different approaches to beat. 

A good LAG player is arguably the toughest type of opponent you’re to encounter. Their aggression will usually be well-timed, and they will look for weak spots in your game to exploit. 

They will also mix up their game from time to time to keep you guessing. 

This means it can be challenging to put them on a range and make daring hero calls, because they will balance their bluffing with value betting well. 

The best strategy when playing against them is actually not getting involved with them if it can be avoided, especially out of position. 

You will also need to mix up your game yourself to keep them guessing. This is something that Nathan discusses in a recent video on the top 12 advanced online poker tips.


Since they won’t be making too many (or any) huge fundamental mistakes, playing against them is basically a zero-sum game, provided your skill levels are approximately the same. 

If you do get involved with them, you should aim to expand your comfort zone and try to bluff catch from time to time to counteract their aggression. 

Bear in mind, though, that just because they are aggressive, it doesn’t mean they’ll be bluffing most of the time. Sometimes they’ll have the goods. 

That shouldn’t discourage you, though. Remember you’re always playing against a range, not the individual cards your opponent is holding.

So if you suspect your opponent might have a large chunk of bluffs in their range, you can call them down, even if they end up having the nuts from time to time.

A second type of LAG player is just a very aggressive recreational player, aka the maniac, or an aggrofish. When playing against them, it’s all about using their aggression against them.

While they can be infuriating to play against, their aggression will usually be misplaced, and their plays dubious at best. 

Playing against them successfully requires patience and a bit of nerve to call them down lighter than you usually would be inclined. 

Depending on how out of line their stats are, you can call them down very wide. If you catch basically any piece of the board, chances are your hand will be far ahead of all the junk they’ll be spewing their chips with.
 
It’s important to note that you should never try to outplay them by answering their aggression with more aggression of your own. It’s like trying to put out the fire with gasoline. 

By firing back at them, you will either make them fold all their junk they would have otherwise kept barreling with, or will get action from hands that have you beat.
 
A better way is simply let them do all the work and build the pot for you. However, it’s important for you to decide early on in the hand whether or not you want to commit. As a general rule, if you call one street, you should call the next one as well.

So it doesn’t really make sense to call on the flop, for example, just to fold on the turn or river if and when they continue barrelling (which they will most of the time). 

If you’re planning to catch their bluffs, you should commit to it all the way, so you should plan the hand ahead, and count on the fact you’re unlikely to see a cheap showdown.

For more, there are several step by step examples of advanced bluffing catching in Modern Small Stakes.


2. Bluff Catch to Use Their Aggression Against Them


The best strategy against a loose and aggressive player is using their aggression against them. This means you shouldn’t really try fight fire with fire, so to speak. 

A better approach is simply expanding your calling range and letting them do the work for you. This will require you to become comfortable with bluff catching.

Bluff catching, as the name implies, is calling your opponents down with hands that aren’t strong enough for value betting, but are ahead of a decent chunk of hands in your opponent’s range. 

The more bluffs in your opponent’s range, the wider you can call them down. By the way, that is why you often want to use the exact opposite strategy to beat a TAGfish.

Because they do not have many bluffs in their range, like LAGs do.

So in other words, you should call LAGs down with hands that have showdown value. Hands like top pair, weak kicker, second pair, or even third pair often fit the bill.

And this is especially the case on boards where a bunch of obvious draws (like a flush draw) missed by the river:

For Example:

You have 99

And the board runout is:

5K2Q3  

While this may be uncomfortable to you at first, it’s the single best way to deal with highly loose and aggressive players. 

The reason for that is the fact that waiting around for a really strong hand to trap them isn’t going to cut it in most in-game situations. 

These strong hands don’t come around nearly as often, and when they do, there’s no guarantee the LAG villain will just keep barrelling street after street. 

Bluff catching is far more effective tactic, because you get those mediocre hands with decent showdown value fairly often.

The key is figuring out in which spots LAG villains are likely to have a lot of bluffs in their range. That’s why you need to be aware from which position they are playing. 

Decent LAG opponents will be positionally aware, meaning they will open-raise a lot more hands in late position, namely the cutoff and the button. 

They will also steal wide in small blind versus big blind. If there is a recreational player who open limps into the pot, they will often try the isolation raise with a wide range. 

You should always be aware of the positions, so you can adjust your range estimations accordingly. 

A villain that 3-bets from the middle position will have a far narrower range than the villain who open-raises on the button, for example.

Check out my recent guide on how to get really good at poker fast, for more on this.


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3. 3-bet Resteal A Lot vs LAGs For the Easy Money


Decent loose and aggressive players will be positionally aware, and they will use the power of position to their advantage. Some of them can get quite out of line in certain spots. 

For example, they might try to steal the blinds from the button with as much as 50% of all hands. 

If you have a LAG player on your right, you should be prepared to defend your blinds, either by flatting with a wide range, or throwing an occasional light 3-bet against stealing attempts.

Be careful to avoid defending the blinds too much with these 5 bad poker hands though!

  
3-betting light is often actually preferable to flatting, because it’s very difficult to call profitably out of position versus an uncapped range, especially against a highly aggressive player.

The better alternative is 3-betting as a bluff. 

While LAG villain’s range will consist mostly of playable cards at least, most of them won’t be strong enough to call a 3-bet. So it can be outright profitable to resteal the pot with a fairly wide 3-betting range.

For Example: 

You have A5 in the big blind and a LAG player opens from the button.  

This is a great spot to 3-bet versus a LAG who likely has an incredibly wide range when open raising from a steal seat, the button.

It's important to make sure that they have a reasonably high Fold to 3-bet% though. Any good poker HUD will be able to tell you this.

You shouldn’t just 3-bet with any two cards, however. Hands that have some sort of playability postflop if your 3-bet gets called are preferable. 

Hands like suited Aces or suited connectors can serve that purpose well. See The Micro Stakes Playbook for a complete guide on the best 3-bet resteal hands.


4. Raise the Flop or Turn Against Trigger-Happy Regs


Aggressive players will try to steal the pot on every street by betting or rising incessantly. 

However, they will have to think twice if you show them strength yourself. That doesn’t mean going into a raising war with them, because that can backfire quite badly. 

But recognizing spots where their range is quite wide and has a lot of bluffs is a great opportunity to try and steal the pot yourself, regardless of your hand strength, or lack thereof. 

A lot of players will fire off a standard c-bet on basically any flop, but they won’t have the goods nearly as often. 

They can have as much as 50% or even more bluffs in their range, especially on low, uncoordinated boards. If you see such a situation, consider throwing a raise right back at them.

This simple strategy is something that most good advanced poker training sites are teaching these days.  

Remember that having some sort of equity to fall back on (like with a drawing hand) is useful, but you can do it as a stone-cold bluff as well. 

Remember, you’re playing the player, not the cards. This has the added benefit of your opponents having to think twice before they bet into you with impunity. 


5. Don’t Fight an Uphill Battle Against LAGs


If all other tactics fail, you always have the option of simply changing seats. 

If you’re sitting down at a particularly unfavourable table with a bunch of highly aggressive players on your left, you don’t need to keep fighting an uphill battle. 

Even if you win the battle, you’ll lose the war in the long run. It’s very difficult to play profitably out of position, especially against aggressive opponents.

How to Beat LAG Poker Players

If you’re playing online, you have the freedom to pick and choose tables to play on, so it makes no sense to keep playing with the deck stacked against you. 

Ideally, you want just the opposite kind of a player on your left, namely the weak and passive ones.

There is tons of good poker software available these days to quickly tell you what player type you are up against by the way.

This way, you don’t have to worry as much about incessant aggression, and you can apply the pressure instead of receiving it. 

Having position is already winning half the battle, so if the odds aren’t in your favour, choose a different battlefield.


6. As Always in Poker, Patience is Key


Let’s face it, dealing with constant aggression is no walk in the park. 

Even if you have some sort of read on your opponent and think they’re bluffing a lot, it can be difficult to make a hero call, regardless of your gut instinct. 

This means that sometimes, you’ll just have to lay your hand down and wait for a better spot. 

It doesn’t really make sense to make a hero call with Ace high, only to have your opponent beat you with something silly like third pair. 

Patience is the name of the game, especially when you’re dealing with hyper-aggressive player. This is something that Nathan preaches again and again in Crushing the Microstakes.

That doesn’t mean just waiting around for good cards, but also having the fortitude to deal with incessant tilt-inducing situations. 

An effective way to counteract these situations is thinking a few steps ahead, instead of considering every spot in a vacuum. If you know you have an aggressive player left to act, take it into account. 

For example, if you’re thinking about calling an open raise, consider if you’re likely to encounter a squeeze. 

If you want to c-bet as a bluff, consider what will happen on consecutive streets if your bet gets called or raised. 

Thinking ahead drastically reduces the chances of getting involved in bad situations in the first place.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, that might be a good sign you shouldn’t getting involved. When in doubt, don’t. 


How to Beat a LAG Poker Player (Summary)


Loose and aggressive players are arguably the toughest opponents to beat, and playing against them can be infuriating.

Studying some good advanced poker strategy can certainly go a long way in helping you consistently beat these players.

However, with the right adjustments and staying calm under pressure, there are ways to beat them. 
The key is using their aggression against them in the right way.

First you need to recognize what kind of a LAG player you are up against. Is it a decent regular, or an out of control fish that’s just spewing chips around?

Depending on what kind of players they are, you should figure out how wide you can call them down and bluff catch. 

If they are totally out of line, you can bluff catch if you catch basically any piece of the board. It’s important to back your judgment, though. So either commit or quit. Fold early, call late.

You can also try to resteal the pot in situations where you suspect their range is fairly wide. If they’re trying to steal the blinds, for example, come back at them with a light 3-bet.

If they c-bet the flop or turn on boards that don’t connect well with their perceived ranges, raise them as a semi-bluff or even a stone-cold bluff. 

This will make them think twice about barrelling into you with impunity.

If you’re sitting down at a particularly difficult table full of hyper-aggressive regs, think about changing tables. There’s really no point in fighting back with the odds stacked against you.

Finally, dealing with loose and aggressive player has more to do with how you deal with opposition in general, rather than some tactical adjustments. 

It’s also about backing your judgment when you have a read, and being ok with the fact that your reads might be wrong from time to time. 

So next time you encounter those out of control maniacs, take a breath, trust your gut, and make that Ace-high hero call.

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How to Beat LAG Poker Players