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It’s not easy taking on extremely aggressive opponents heads-up €“ find out how to turn the tables and crush the maniacs
The first thing you want to do when playing against a loose-aggressive (LAG) player heads-up €“ or any player for that matter €“ is to find out what they are doing and try as much as possible to classify them into a player type. Not all LAGs play the same. Here are four common types of LAGs that you might encounter at the table;
1. Bad LAG
A Bad LAG is pretty easy to play against. They will overplay a lot of their hands, never fold something like second pair or if they have top pair will automatically be prepared to get stacks all-in. They €™ll also bluff too wide against your range when it looks pretty strong, bluff when they can €™t represent much or bluff in spots where the board is likely to have hit you. In short, they will pick the wrong moments to bluff.
2. Early street LAG
This is someone who three-bets really wide and c-bets really wide but then tends to slow down on the later streets if they don €™t have anything. This is a somewhat common tendency and it €™s a pretty easy strategy to play. It doesn €™t require too much thinking and you generally just check it down once your three-bet and c-bet tactic doesn €™t work out.
I find that most of these players tend to adjust eventually and start double barrelling pretty wide. It €™s quite rare that you €™ll play a player who for the whole length of the heads-up match will c-bet and then slow down on turn cards. There are just so many good turn cards to barrel €“ if your opponent discovers that you are floating them they will probably adjust but, at least early on they will play very predictably and slow down after the flop.
3. Ambitious LAG
The ambitious LAG is someone who throws a ton of money into the pot to try and blow you off your hand whenever you show weakness. They are fun to play against although you can get into some really sticky spots on the river. Basically, when you take weak lines against them they are not afraid to overbet or just shove a ton of chips in the middle. If they are also the type of player that is not prone to value betting thinly then you have a very profitable situation to call down (this applies to all LAGs too). There are certainly some LAGs who don €™t value bet wide enough for the amount they are betting €“ this means that their range will be very bluff-heavy. If that €™s the case we need to be calling down pretty wide.
4. Good LAG
A good LAG won €™t have obvious leaks. Good LAGs come in all shapes and sizes but there isn €™t some obvious adjustment that you need to make in order to print money against them. They will probably be fun to play but they won €™t be the most profitable opponents you can come up against!
How can you work out what player type your opponent is?
This applies to all types of players but we €™re going to look at it in the context of LAGs. The main thing you want to do early on is to try and get to showdown. It €™s very easy to over-adjust to certain stats based on a small sample size. For example, if someone three-bets you the first five times they are in the big blind in a heads-up match it €™s very easy to jump to the assumption that this guy is three-betting you really wide. You might then change your game plan up accordingly. However, it €™s really not that difficult for them just to have picked five legitimate three-betting hands or to have hit the flop and turns hard. It €™s dangerous to jump to assumptions based on non-showdown hands or stats which have a small sample size.
I would really encourage you to try and get to showdown. Maybe take a few more passive lines than you would usually do; check-call a top pair hand instead of check-raising and try to reach showdown. Call down a little bit wider than you usually would if you find yourself in a tough 50/50 spot on the river. Maybe you lean towards calling for the value you get in seeing what they have. It €™s much more instructional if you see someone three-bet you with 6-2 offsuit and show it down than just seeing that they are three-betting you 35% of the time over 50 hands, that could just be a sample size anomaly.
The same goes for double barrels or c-bets. If someone c-bets 3-2 on J-T-9 with a flush draw then the odds are that they will be c-betting too wide in other spots too. Or if they double barrel an A-K-3-K board with no equity that €™s something else to look out for.
Every player will be different and the only way to properly adjust to them will be to observe their tendencies at the table first. It may be that they bet bigger with bluffs and smaller with value hands or any number of other examples. However you can make some common adjustments against each type of LAG you will encounter when playing heads-up €¦.
Most of the time you can just sit back and wait for hands. They will pay you off way too often when you do hit a hand. Either they €™ll call when they shouldn €™t or they will barrel off when they shouldn €™t. It €™s not going to be that profitable to play back against them €“ instead, wait for a good hand because you €™ll get paid off. It can be frustrating to play these guys when you aren €™t hitting hands because you will be run over. And it can be hard to remember that the money will come your way when you eventually do hit a hand, but it €™s important to be patient because the pay off will more than make up for all of those other hands.
Also make sure that you €™ve labelled your player correctly €“ a bad LAG will pay you off but if you €™re up against a good LAG you might be in trouble. It €™s easy to revert to a very passive style and just look to trap €“ but that won €™t work if it €™s a good LAG!
Early street LAG
I would four-bet wide against this type of player for value and bluffs. I would call three-bets wide and look to outplay them postflop. And finally I would also float flops very wide. If they are just going to bet one street and check it down you can get away with floating air on flops a lot of the time. Good boards to float are those that won €™t bring too many turn barrelling cards. For example, A-K-3 is a good board to float on as the turn won €™t change the board at all. A board like 4-4-2 is less appealing because so many turns will bring overcards and players will barrel these much more.
You can just call them down when you take weak lines. Another thing you can do €“ to avoid having to make big hero calls €“ is to take weak lines with your strong hands. So for instance, checking back flush draws can be very profitable.
People will never give you credit for a flush when it comes on the turn or river. They will never fold if you raise and may even make a move like overbetting because they assume you can never have a flush. Likewise, you can start checking back some nutty hands on the flop or turn. A lot of players will never do this, and it €™s fine most of the time, but if you €™re up against an ambitious LAG it €™s certainly a move worth considering. Why don €™t you check back trips on a dry board? That €™s a really good candidate to do it with because most of your opponent €™s range will be drawing very thin and the board is unlikely to change too much. Another common line to take is check-calling with strong hands in three-bet pots, instead of check-raising.
These guys don €™t have any major weaknesses and there are no magic lines you can take to adjust versus them to become profitable. Ultimately, what you have to do is try to figure out what they are doing in different spots. Are they c-betting too wide? Calling down too often in certain spots? Three-betting a value range that is too wide? Are they playing too straightforwardly in four-bet pots?
My major advice is not to fall into the trap of becoming too passive. It €™s really easy to go into passive mode. You have top pair and assume that the play is always just to check-call because they barrel too often. The problem is that if you start calling with all your strong hands it makes your raises incredibly bluff-heavy. You won €™t get away with that versus a good LAG.
I think the right play is to play aggressively on flops versus these players. Don €™t let them run you over and don €™t sit back and play your made hands passively. If you flop top pair in a three-bet pot €“ like 9-8 on a 9-7-2 flop €“ just raise and get it in there. You really want to avoid getting into a situation where your opponent is winning the majority of pots once both of you miss. That €™s what happens a lot of the time if you are playing too passively. If you are not raising with your top pair hands you end up not raising with your bluffs either. It becomes very difficult to combat them.
Every LAG is different €“ remember that! Adjust to your specific opponent but this blanket strategy will serve you well to categorise and make common adjustments to the player types. Good luck playing LAGs heads-up, it doesn €™t have to be as scary as it looks!
This article is an extract from The Quickie: Playing LAGs Heads-Up by CardRunners pro Markuis. To watch the full video, and thousands more training videos, go to www.cardrunners.com today!
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