Let's talk about the most common, strong player type we'll play against: TAGs (tight-aggressive players). These guys make a ton of money, combining tight pre-flop play with a solid understanding of post-flop play.
They aren't as tight as NITs and they're not as loose as LAGs, but when it comes to good thinking players, these guys are right near the top.
How to Spot TAGs
It also indicates that they're extremely aggressive pre-flop. This aggression carries over to after the flop as their aggression factor will range from 3% to 6%.
In 5 max games they have tight stats as well, with VPIP of 26% and PFR with as high as 26%. Again, the aggression will range from 3% to 6%.
TAGs have a great understanding of the game. They make very few mistakes equity-wise post-flop, and even fewer mistakes pre-flop. They know which hands will get them into trouble, and they know which hands are worth gambling on and they play them accordingly.
The point is they have both good foundation and skills, so they are very tough to win against.
They Have a Tight Image
The fact that they have such good hand selection means that they’ll be showing the goods a fair percentage of the time. With this in mind, most opponents won’t give action to TAGs.
Because of their tight image, they're also able to get a lot of folds when they bet. This means they can get away with a solid percentage of bluffs. TAGs do a fair amount of bluffing, but you'll never see it.
They make the small bluffs we teach here at Gripsed.com, but when the money gets big and opponents play back, they'll only continue to give action if they've got the gold.
They Understand Proper Hands and Proper Value
These guys know how the game works, and they play their hands accordingly. They know what hands are good for one street of value, two streets of value, three streets of value or all-in. They rarely miss out on value bets. Our only advantage, is by knowing their thinking, we can blow them off hands that they're attempting to use for pot control.
Still, it's super tough to win money off these guys, so I don't recommend going into battle unless you have a good reason.
They’re Counter-Aggression Wimps
TAGs like to be in control, which is why they don't deal well with counter aggression. When things don't go according to plan, they can get confused, and lose their bearings. So, to make sure they don’t run us over, we're going to have to deal out our fair share of counter aggression. This means re-raising before the flop, raising on the flop, it means not falling into their plans and having us just call. We want to put the pressure right back in their face.
They’re Position Conscious
TAGs don't play well out of position. They aren't the best hand readers (like LAGs). They do a good job of reading the action, but they're only able to do this when they're in position. By forcing them to play out of position, we can take them out of their comfort zone while getting into ours.
They’re Tilt Prone
These guys are the most likely to tilt. When TAGs don't have full control and things aren't going their way, they often get frustrated. Similar to weak-tights, TAGs have a breaking point, and if we can be there for it, there's usually a few stacks up for grabs.
TAGs also over-think, especially when they're in these slightly-tilted mind states. They try to look at the big picture of what's been going on, and this often leads them to make poor decision in the moment. This "mega-game" big picture thinking is detrimental. Often, the game is much simpler than they presume and they are over thinking.
SO, they are extremely smart players, but exploitable if you can get under their skin for small pots. Just don't go into your game expecting to stack these guys.
Let's find out how to profit against these sorts of players.
Re-raise in Position
If we are planning to play a hand where a TAG has raised - and most of the time we won't (unless he has raised from early position). Re-raising is the best play. If it's going to be a heads-up pot, we don't want to be flat calling TAGs. It's way too hard to play against them.
As well as premium hands to for re-raising, I would also suggest adding in six or seven suited connectors (your choice) to add to your range for 3-betting them when they are opening from middle to late position.
Just as you would re-raise when you have Aces or Kings, you're going to pick a few random hands to re-raise them with when they've opened from late position.
TAGs will fold upwards of 80% of the time to a 3-bet. Technically, this means that 3-betting them with any two cards is profitable, but that's a little too much variance for my liking.
As long as you're not 3-betting too often (such that they still give you credit for a real hand), you'll get a ton of folds and pick up a lot of small pots. And if they do call your re-raise pre-flop, just fire out a continuation bet. Most of the time you'll take them down.
Still, as I said, we should just respect their tight pre-flop play and fold when they raise. We're not looking to get involved with these guys unless we have to.
On Flop Re-Bluff
We've got to play-back against the TAGs. We can't let them be in control. We know which boards they like to c-bet, with everything they raise pre-flop - these would be the dry boards. But we also know that those boards are hard to connect with and most of their range of potential holdings did not dig that flop. Against TAGs, you want to bluff-raise their c-bets on these boards a fair percentage of the time.
You'll get a lot of folds when they didn't actually connect, and you'll set a solid precedent for when you do pick up a good hand. You can make your same raise on the dry flop and they may think you're bluffing because you've raised them before and they didn't see your hand so they may get frustrated.
BE SURE to only pull this play when you're in position, because if you're out of position it's too easy for them to call and see what you do on the turn. AND DON'T pull this play in a re-raise pot. This is only a good play to do if the play has been called and raised before the pot.
Also, we want to lean into them on the same boards as a bluff. If they've raised and we've just called before the flop, we have to "donkbet", which means we're betting when we don't have the lead in the hand. It's kinda the opposite of c-bets.
TAGs have no idea what to do when you donkbet, so if they react by raising us every time, which a lot of TAGs do, (because they see donkbetting as a sign of disrespect), then we adjust: only lead with our big hands and check-fold with our marginal ones.
When you have the lead in the hand, we have to apply a lot of pressure against TAGs. They'll call to keep us honest, sometimes more than once in one hand. But they don’t like calling big bets, so when double or triple barrelling TAGS, I suggest betting at least 80% of the pot - maybe 90% or full. If you make your bets bigger, TAGs won't float you as much or call you with weak hands. You'll get more accurate information from your bet and that will make your decisions a lot easier.
Betting big is also good because if we're betting big with our bluffs, we get to bet big with our made hands and we're more likely to get paid.
Float In Position
Float means calling the flop bet with nothing, because you think their c-betting you without much, which the intention of stealing a pot on later streets.
This is an alternative to the aforementioned bluff, which costs you the same amount, but allows you to get more information since we get to see what they do on the turn before attempting our steal.
You'll find against some TAGs wet boards are better to float, and on dry it's better to bluff-raise and on others it's the complete opposite.
Just make sure not to use any of these tactics to excess. TAGs are clever players, and they will catch on. Switch it up, and keep your eyes open.