How to Beat Loose Aggressive (LAG) Players in Poker

The Loose Aggressive (LAG) poker style is one of the most complex styles in the game, leading to significant successes or failures depending on how well the player executes it. Many of the world's best poker players have adopted the LAG style and found great success, while many of the biggest losers also fall into this category.

How to Beat Loose Aggressive (LAG) Players in Poker

Understanding the specific tendencies of a LAG player and how they apply this style in the game is crucial. Before discussing how to adapt to playing against LAGs, let's first understand what the loose aggressive poker style means and how to identify these players at your table.

What is a Loose Aggressive (LAG) Poker Player?

Unlike Tight Aggressive (TAG) players who play a few hands very aggressively, Loose Aggressive (LAG) players play a wide range of hands aggressively. This starts with pre-flop hand selection, where LAGs typically play a wider range of hands than most players and continue their aggression through all betting streets.

Generally, LAGs will and re-raise pre-flop and continue betting whenever they have equity or sense weakness in their opponents. The success of the LAG approach in poker often lies in the fact that players generally dislike facing large bets and often fold too much, even against known bluffers.

When discussing these players, it's important to differentiate between good LAGs and bad LAGs. A good LAG balances their play with a lot of bluffs without going too wide or bluffing too often, maintaining a strong range throughout the game. A bad LAG, on the other hand, constantly fires at every opportunity, rarely folding to bets or raises, often playing recklessly to their detriment.

While a strong LAG style can be very effective and win large amounts over the long term, an improperly executed LAG style is one of the quickest ways to lose money in poker.

Pre-Flop Strategy Against Good LAGs

Every poker strategy starts pre-flop, and LAG players usually play more hands than most other types of players and play them quite aggressively. They will raise more, 3-bet more, and 4-bet more than your average opponent, meaning you should adjust your range accordingly.

When facing a thinking LAG who doesn't recklessly throw chips around, your main adjustment should be to slow-play your strong hands more often and expand your 4-bet bluffing range.

Slow-playing your strong hands makes sense because their range contains more bluffs than it should, meaning you are less likely to face action if you re-raise. In shallower stack depths, you usually want to slow-play monsters like AA or KK, expecting them to continue firing at the pot with little equity, often losing their entire stack.

The deeper the stacks, the more you want to get your monsters into the pot, but it still makes sense to occasionally slow-play them to set up surprising post-flop situations. When it comes to 4-bet bluffing, the logic is similar. Since your opponent is more likely to 3-bet bluff, they are also more likely to fold to your 4-bet, making it profitable to expand your 4-bet range.

Avoid using big suited connectors for 4-bet bluffs as these can be easily called, and instead use smaller suited Aces or lower suited connectors to expand your 4-bet bluff range against LAGs.

Playing Against Maniacs Pre-Flop

Another type of LAG, often referred to as a “maniac,” plays very aggressively across all betting streets but lacks a true understanding of equity, ranges, or general poker strategy. These players try to win every pot and will continue betting regardless of the situation. Typically, these players are big losers in any poker game.

When facing such players, pre-flop bluffing should be almost non-existent, though you still don't want your range to be too predictable. Mostly, you will want to 3-bet and 4-bet with a very strong range of value hands and occasional bluffs, and you will want to size your raises larger.

Remember, a maniac's range is too wide from every , but they are unlikely to fold to any of your raises. Instead, they are more likely to overplay their hand.

Whenever you have a maniac at your table, seize every opportunity to extract value and be prepared for a wild ride with lots of variance, big , and potential huge wins.

The Importance of Position Against LAGs

The importance of position in poker cannot be overstated, especially when facing LAG players. Sitting to the left of a LAG instead of the right can mean the difference between an enjoyable night at the table and a poker nightmare.

By default, LAG players will raise and re-raise a lot of hands pre-flop and continue their relentless aggression on the flop, turn, and river. Being in position against a LAG allows you to limit their options, such as calling their raises, flatting their flop bets, and generally preventing them from putting as much money into the pot as they would like.

Conversely, playing out of position against a LAG means you often leak information, miss value bets, and fail to realize your equity as effectively. Always strive to position yourself to the left of the most at the table and to the right of the tight and nitty players, as this puts you in the best spot to make money.

In tournament poker, your seat is assigned, so adapt to your table by playing tighter against the LAGs on your left to avoid getting squeezed off your hands frequently.

Using Their Aggression Against Them

LAGs are inherently more aggressive than the average poker player, which means they provide more opportunities to trap them. While you shouldn't go to extremes like Phil Hellmuth, assuming everyone is waiting to fall into your traps, slow-playing and trapping can be very effective against LAGs in specific situations.

We've already discussed slow-playing pre-flop against LAGs; the same logic applies post-flop. When you're up against a LAG on the flop, you should slow down, act as though you're drawing, and let them over-bet on the turn and river, hoping to make you fold your marginal hands.

Remember, raising too early with strong hands against LAGs is less effective because their range may be weak and filled with bluffs that don't have much equity. As always, going too far in either direction can make you exploitable, so don't slow-play every big hand. When your strong hands are vulnerable, LAGs likely have a hand to continue betting with, and raising early might be the best option.

Bluffing More Against LAGs

We've discussed playing strong hands against LAGs, but what about when you have a good hand but not a monster? The answer is to bluff more. Allow your aggressive opponent to keep attacking until the river. Sometimes, you might have to close your eyes and make a big call, hoping for the best.

Facing a skilled LAG can be daunting because you will often be put in situations where you have to call large bets, sometimes looking foolish to an innocent bystander.

Poker Hand Example

Imagine a 1/2 cash game with effective stacks of $500. A LAG is sitting in the small blind, and you are in the cutoff (CO) with J♥T♥. You raise to $6, the LAG 3-bets to $20, and you call. The flop comes J♦5♦4♦.

The pot is $41, and the LAG makes a $30 continuation bet. You make a standard call, moving to the turn, which is Q♠, making the board J♦5♦4♦Q♠.

Your opponent bets $65.

At this point, your opponent is representing a hand like AA, KK, AQ, QQ, JJ, or QJ—all plausible holdings. However, because we're facing a LAG, they might also have any number of ♦ draws, combined with straight draws, or other hands like AT or 76s simply trying to get you to fold.

You call, and the river brings the 5♠, completing the board: J♦5♦4♦Q♠5♠.

Your opponent now bets $200 into the $236 pot.

Here, you need to make a tough decision. While LAGs occasionally have big hands, they are also likely to bluff frequently on such a board. Still, ensure you have a good read on your opponent before making such calls, as this can be the difference between making a great call or simply throwing away your chips.

Staying Patient Against LAGs

Sometimes, when facing the wildest LAGs, your opponent might always seem to hit their cards, making it feel like you can't counter the variance. Losing to a LAG can be incredibly frustrating, as you often have to make plays you wouldn't against more passive players. However, remember that poker is a long-term game. Patience is key against loose aggressive players, as the right spots will arise, and the LAG will eventually over-bluff, allowing you to capitalize.

Beating LAG players in poker requires a mix of strategic adjustments and mental fortitude. By widening your pre-flop hand selection, employing more bluffs, utilizing slow play, and leveraging your position, you can turn the LAG's aggression against them. Patience and a keen understanding of your opponent's tendencies will help you navigate these challenging but potentially profitable waters. Remember, the goal is to stay disciplined and take advantage of the frequent mistakes LAG players make, securing your success in the long run.

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