Tag to lag.

superdean701superdean701 Red Chipper Posts: 7 ✭✭
Ok so I've had some ok results as a tag.
I'd almost consider myself a super agressive tag.
What changes do I need to make to become a decent lag?


  • The MuleThe Mule Red Chipper Posts: 790 ✭✭✭
    In one of Miller's books (I think it's "Playing the Player") he writes something which I interpreted as, "A good lag is essentially a good tag who finds extra spots to exploit their opponents".

    I consider myself a good tag (at the admittedly very low stakes I play) so I'm interested to hear the responses.
  • SplitSuitSplitSuit RCP Coach Posts: 4,082 -
    Our first podcast episode is about this: http://redchippoker.com/how-to-play-a-looser-style-podcast/

    I'd suggest starting there and then we can drill down further =)
    📑 Grab my custom poker spreadsheet pack right now.
    📘 Start the Preflop & Math Poker Workbook today.
  • superdean701superdean701 Red Chipper Posts: 7 ✭✭
    Thank you SplitSuit I'm going to listen to that like 300 times now. =)
  • SprinklePonySprinklePony Red Chipper Posts: 75
    Still piecing this all together myself, although I've developed as a player starting as more of a bad LAG, a maniac. Over time I've improved by tightening up, then loosening up, then tightening up, etc. The downside is tons of lost $, but the upside is that I've put myself in situations that most TAGs rarely show up in ... and I've put myself in those spots TONS of times! Just as SplitSuit talked about in the podcast about playing a session where you play every hand, and that if you know how to play top pair with Q8o well, you'll be able to play AQ when you hit top pair much better. It's been a rough learning curve, but I've enjoyed it ... just hoping I'm finally hitting the point where I can start to show consistent profit in cash games; tournaments I do well in, and with cash games my biggest problems are bankroll management and making terrible calls. My terrible calls brings up a worthwhile point: everyone looks at the game in their own way, and plays in their own style. Because I know how often I bluff, I would make a terrible call hoping they were bluffing, but just cause I would bluff here a decent amount doesn't mean this player, or most players for that matter, would.

    So, with that in mind, here are some of my thoughts on LAG play:

    One thing I recently realized that separates TAGs from LAGs is that LAGs will have many more ATC plays. Many TAGs are aware that open-raising ATC in the SB vs a tight BB is a solid play. Isolating is one play that, at times, can be done with ATC vs certain opponents, especially IP--I love those players that will limp/call with a super wide range, and then just check/fold a massive amount of time on the flop; I love them even more when their limp/calling range is inelastic. Having a range to isolate with basically provides you with a backdoor (it's always nice to have some equity after all), especially when other players come along, or start to 3bet you lite because they realize what you're doing, etc. There are players and table dynamics that will allow you to do it 100% ... very rare.

    This brings to mind another key skill in all play, but especially LAG play: being able to change gears, which requires you to figure out when your opponents are adjusting, how the are adjusting, and how to counter-adjust. Many players have a comfort zone, and really hammering away at them will force them to adjust, but they won't be comfortable or used to the adjustment and often times will adjust by becoming even more exploitable ... if you can counter-adjust properly, and part of that is knowing what to look for. A common adjustment many players make when faced with constant preflop raises, flop cbets, turn barrels, etc. is to start calling down lite, sometimes VERY lite, allowing you to know play for stacks with TPNK and be ahead of their range. Some will merely wait for a big hand and let you know as soon as they hit it. Others will begin to play back, fighting fire with fire, and bluff the bluffer ... since they aren't as used to finding good bluff spots, they'll usually do this maniacally.

    This is basically all about image (aka, range perception; what they view your range to be). Even those who aren't good hand readers have a perception of your range (well, some have no perception, but they're rare), even if it is as simplistic as, "This guy always has it," or "This guy never has a hand, all he does is bluff." Manipulate your image, thus manipulate how they perceive your range, thus manipulate how they're going to play against you. For the most part, this really means that your value hands will get paid off more, and, possibly more importantly, you can go for thinner and thinner value.

    Thin value is the other key element that comes to mind. Finding every spot you can get even more value out of is awesome, and can be quite tricky. At my weekly home game earlier tonight, I missed some value against our calling station. We were 6 or 7 handed, the player who NEVER raises pre-flop limped, and I raised with Q8o in the CO, our calling station in the BB, and the limper both called. The flop came QJ6, I think with two clubs, I c-bet and only the station calls. The turn is an 8, and he check/calls again. The river is a 9 and we checked it down ... really dumb check on my part! This guy LOVES to bluff catch and has, more than once, called big bets, even shoves, with K high, and at least once worse. He would've called a decent bet with any J or better. My image is important here too, although he is a calling station, he isn't blind to what's going on. Me and one other player he'll call down super lite, more so me. He is a calling station regardless, but against our nit, he won't call anywhere near as much. He's also aware enough that he won't call me lite, even when he's sure I'm bluffing (he's pretty much always sure I'm bluffing, even when I have the nuts), if certain players are still to act behind him.

    As I mentioned, I'm still piecing this all together myself, so I would love to hear what I'm missing, getting flat wrong, etc. etc.
  • philby20philby20 Red Chipper Posts: 189 ✭✭
    I'm a bit of a tag lag and sometimes nit I play the situation I'm in rather then a specific style. If it's a good spot for a lag play then that's how I play and if I need to nit it down that's what I do I don't like the idea of thinking like I only want to play eg: lag poker otherwise people will adjust and beat up on you by playing a passive style
  • SprinklePonySprinklePony Red Chipper Posts: 75
    @philby20 I couldn't agree more. It's all about the best play possible, not about fitting some pre-determined style or standard. Being able to change gears is absolutely essential. You will definitely hurt yourself by putting yourself in a box: by stagnating as a player, by missing value, or by hanging yourself ... and certainly in other ways that aren't coming immediately to mind.
  • Steve007Steve007 Red Chipper Posts: 363 ✭✭✭
    A lot of players realize that they will be better if they do reach a point where they can play a decent lag game themselves. But it's not the fact that they are lag that makes them better players. It's the other way around. Becoming a better player makes it easier to play a decent lag game.

    I wonder if the desire to play lag is also an ego thing (which I've been guilty of so I'm not attacking anyone with this). And it seems more exciting to be the tough lag guy than the TAG nit, and again that seems more satisfying to the ego.

    I used to be really curious about what it takes to be a good lag player. Now I know I can play that style and I just don't care about the topic anymore and in my opinion there is way too much emphasis placed on it. Just improve your overall game. Also, some games are so loose that you could easily be better off just playing a TAG game instead of a LAG game. I worry more about how to play against a particular table/player far more than I'd worry about what my exact style is.
  • SprinklePonySprinklePony Red Chipper Posts: 75
    That is a valid point. I'm sure to some degree it is an ego thing for me as well, and excitement is absolutely a reason for my preference, and an important part of that is the challenge. Another thing, for me, is comfort; I'm just generally more comfortable playing LAGy ... even if it got me in trouble a ton initially, it's always been what I gravitated too.

    Beyond the emotional reasons, a good LAG strategy (which, again, includes changing gears) is going to be the most profitable style overall--at least as far as I'm aware, and I'm definitely no top level pro, I still have tons of leaks, and I still have a ton to learn, so I could be way off. Anyway, there certainly are games and situations, where a tighter range is going to be optimal, just as there are times to take passive lines (I'd be hard pressed to think of a game where an overall passive strategy is going to be optimal, although it may be the most profitable given one's existing skill level), but that's part of changing gears. LAG is basically about exploiting every single leak you can find, and taking every edge you can, which is the definition of a good cash game player. As you move up and play more aggressive players, and more competent LAGs, a TAG approach becomes less and less desirable. If you were to be playing, say, Tom Dwan or Phil Ivey, they're not going to be paying off a TAG's monsters frequently enough, either by calling or bluffing. Sometimes, sure, but they're going to have a very clear idea of your range in every spot.

    Given, few of us will be playing that caliber of player any time soon. So what about the games most of us are playing in? Even here a good LAG strategy is going to be optimal most of the time. One aspect is image, or manipulating an opponent's perception of your range. Most all players will adjust, to some degree, given enough time, and by playing a LAG style, which dictates adjusting properly at the right times, you'll get your big hands paid off MUCH more--and value hands are where we will typically be making the most of our money. Further, the proper image will allow us to widen our value range. What about those who just won't adjust? We figure out where their frequency mistakes are, in what situations their hands are face up, etc., and exploit until they leave or go broke (there is probably more value in not hammering them so much that they leave too soon). If they become honest on the turn and check/fold or fold to a barrel way too often, then we want to get to that spot as often as we profitably can, which means we'll be bluffing with a wide range, thus LAG.

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