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Tight v Loose

So you are wondering what all the fuss is about with Tight v Loose play in poker? Does it really matter? Well lets take a look where it does become relevant.

Poker is generally quite a fragile game and you should not place too much emphasis on any single tournament. A broader viewpoint and good Bankroll Management is necessary. A general long-term approach to the game is very important. This is best highlighted with an example :-

Lets say you plan to play 600 MTTs (multi-table tournaments) over the course of a 6 month period.

Now with a general splattering of luck, both good and bad, an average player might reasonable expect to finish in every position once. Or shall we say (to make it seem more accurate) 537 times outside the money, and 63 times inside the money, with these 63 being once in every position inside the money. 1x1st, 1x2nd, 1x3rd.....1x62nd, 1x63rd.

With me so far? One would hope :)

Now, so lets say you are playing $33 buy-ins. How do you think you have done financially. Broken even? Well, you have just lost $1800 over a 6-month period.

Tournament Payment Structure :-

Finish Position Payment % Payment $
1st 24.55% $4419
2nd 15.5% $2790
3rd 9.85% $1773
4th 7.6% $1368
5th 6.3% $1134
6th 5% $900
7th 3.8% $684
8th 2.6% $468
9th 1.4% $252
10-18th 0.7% $126
19-27th 0.5% $90
28-45th 0.4% $72
46th-63rd 0.3% $54
64th-600th 0% Nothing


The reason you have lost 1800 is essentially the rake (or tourney entry fee in this case) 600x$3 = $1800

So, what happens if you are a pretty solid, tight player and you say manage to just make it to the money in 30 additional cases. So, for the 600 tourneys you finish outside the money 507 times, and ITM (in the money) 93 times. What happens? The answer is you still lose money.

So what is the key to beating such a fragile game as poker? This is where aggression and looseness comes in. You must effectively sacrifice several tournaments for the greater-good.

OK you may have steadily worked yourself into a position where you could make the money by doing nothing. You have started to play tighter as you are keen to make the money, but in fact this is the exact point where you want to be more loose/aggressive, not less. Lets say a marginal hand comes around, or you think you could push someone off a pot, etc etc...but you dont call or make the play because you want to make the money. This is where you are losing money in your overall approach. (NB lets take it for granted that your general play is up to scratch).

So, if we scrap the getting to the money at all costs approach and instead of these additional 30 times ITM, we arrive ITM with a massive stack and manage to convert this to a win. Our stats are now 64 ITM and 536 tourneys with no winnings. But what is our net result....well the answer is a $2619 profit.

See table for a summary of this :-

Scenario ITM Outside the money Distribution Net Result
1. Random 63 537 Completely Even $1800 loss
2. Good Tight Player 93 507 30 additional times in position 46-63rd $1620 more winnings but still a $180 loss
3. Good player who knows when to be aggressive 64 536 Even except, instead of 30 times extra ITM, just 1 time extra in 2nd $990 profit
4. Good player who knows when to be agressive 64 536 Even except, instead of 30 times extra ITM, just 1 time extra in 1 st $2619 profit


So, in summary, sacrifice some short-term ITM for long term profit. It is easier said the done, particular if you only play 3 or 4 tourneys a week, but nevertheless it is necessary if you want a positive ROI (profit). Unless ofcourse you want to rely upon luck and hot decks? :)

For more useful information see :-

Tournament Tips

Aggression in Poker

M Comparison Chart

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Page Created at 03-06-2007 - 02:09 PM, Last Modified : 06-26-2007 - 04:07 PM.

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