Playing at a Loose Table
written by: John
Playing at a loose table in poker is going to be one of the best places to make money. The reason being is that many loose players play too many hands pre-flop with little to no ability in playing them post flop. This leads to these players making tons of mistakes which results in you raking in some good pots.
How to Know a Table is Loose
You will know a table is loose before you sit down by looking at a few stats in the lobby of the poker site you play at. One of the stats you are looking for is the average number of players going to the flop. The more players going to the flop, the higher the percentage is, thus the looser the table is. I start to consider a table loose around the 30% to 35% range.
Another stat to look at is the average pot size. This stat should be pretty self explanatory. If there are tables with an average pot size of 25, 30 or 40 big blinds, it's probably very loose and possibly even very aggressive. I also use the waiting list (if there is one) as an indication since many players are looking to sit at active (profitable) tables.
Loose Table Adjustments
The adjustments that you have to make at a loose table will really depend on the type of players you have at the table with you. Some loose players are loose passive while others are loose aggressive. Some players will play a lot of hands pre-flop and fold on the flop when the miss, and others will just call, call and call some more. It's important to keep this in mind when using our tips below so you can make adjustments as needed.
Looser Table = Tighter Image
As a rule of thumb, it's always better to play in a style that's opposite from how the rest of the table is playing. So at a loose table you're going to want to play tight.
The reason for this is that players at a loose table will have very wide hand ranges, many of which will put them in marginal spots. By sticking to the top of your hand range, you can be sure that when you connect with the flop that most times you're going to be well enough ahead.
Just for something to compare to, at a normal table my hud stats will be in the neighborhood of a 20/17 or 22/18. At a looser table, I will be much tighter running stats somewhere in area of a 15/13 or 14/10.
Bluff Less Frequently
To bluff or not at a loose table will ultimately depend on your opponents. If they are fishy players who like to call a lot, you might be better off avoiding bluffing altogether - even including c-betting. If I feel that my opponent is a loose player who thinks and can find his fold button, I might be more inclined to bluff him when the time is right.
At a loose table, I will also steal from the button less often as well. If I do steal, it will be with hands that have some strength and potential on the flop. For example, I'll take out all the trash hands, small suited connects and one gapers. I'll raise from the button with my pairs, broadways and my bigger suited connectors such as TJ, 9T and possibly 89 - most of which I'm willing to see a flop with and will likely be the best when I hit.
Betting for Value
One of the reasons why you won't be bluffing as much is because most of the bets you make will be almost purely for value. Most players at a looser table are willing to call you down with a weaker top pair or 2nd pair, all of which you will beat in most cases. The same will hold true when stealing from the button or 3-betting. Most of the times you do it will be for getting value for what you feel is the best hand.
Trap More Often
Trapping will become a more viable option since most players will be willing to do the betting for you. Often times this means you can slow play a premium hand pre-flop or a set made on the flop and you'll get paid off well for it.
Although open limping isn't something I use in my game, the option is there if you feel like an opponent is going to raise you almost 100% of the time that you do it. You might try this maneuver from the button with a premium hand if you know the big blind is a loose aggressive player that will raises often and defends his blinds light.
Keep in mind, however, that if you decide to slow play a hand to be sure to pay attention to the board texture. Looser players will have a much wider hand range that will hit a ton of boards. So be sure to always bet on super draw-y flops as opposed to slow playing to protect your hand.
Check Raising More Often
A loose table will give you more opportunities to check a hand to induce a bet from your opponent only to raise them and take down the dead money. Depending on the board texture and your hand, this might even work from time to time as a bluff.
Depending on the villain, you might want to float a lot of flops and bet what could be scary turn cards for your opponent. Often times, your opponent will just be loose aggressive and c-bet all of their range on the flop. If you have a good draw or over cards, you can just flat call and see a turn. Even if you don't make your hand, you still might have a chance of bluffing to take it down. Again, this will be totally villain dependent.
Final Thoughts on Playing at a Loose Table
Playing at a looser table will really be about patience. You just need to sit tight, pick a good spot with a solid hand and hope to hit and get paid off. Looser tables will be much swingier since you won't be grinding out small pots, but will be winning and losing big pots more infrequently. But if you play your cards right and variance is on your side, your patience should be more than well rewarded.