min read

How to Deal with Loose Aggressive Players in Poker


You will encounter many different poker players at the tables, but loose and aggressive ones are probably the most annoying to play. These players often seem to play erratically, but the one thing you know you will get from them is a lot of bets and raises on all the streets.

Countering a very aggressive player is much more difficult than a passive one because so many decisions can be made.

What's more, the decisions you will have to make against loose-aggressive players (LAGs) will be more expensive as they keep piling the bets.

In this article, we will discuss how to play against LAGs in and out of position and what strategies you can use to counter their aggression and use it against them.

How to Deal with Loose Aggressive Players in Poker

Identifying the LAGs

It’s not hard to spot a loose-aggressive player at your table, as they will put the most money into the pots.

After just an orbit or two, you should be able to identify any LAGs at the table, and you will rarely be wrong. These players simply can’t seem to stay out of play.

However, not every loose-aggressive player is exactly the same. In fact, the LAG approach to poker can be both one of the best and one of the worst approaches to the game.

Strong loose aggressive players know exactly how to apply the pressure and capitalize on their image when they have a hand, making them deadly opponents to face.

Bad LAGs, on the other hand, are often just throwing money into the pot without any good reason, and they even end up giving up on some spots where bluffing would be the best way to go.

Making the distinction between a good and a bad LAG will require some understanding of the game, which you will have to practice extensively.

However, you will often be able to spot the maniac players who are playing without any real plan quite easily, as their plays will make very little sense, and they will often act erratically when they are not in the pot.

If you are playing online, you will need to identify maniacs by how they play alone. The easiest way to do this is at showdowns, where they will often show hands that make absolutely no sense, but they chose them as bluffs to go all the way with.

Once you know which player at your table is a good LAG and which is a maniac, you can start making a plan to counter their game.

How to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Playing Against Maniacs – How to Adjust to Bad LAGs

Bad LAG players play poker without any plan or general strategy, raising and re-raising randomly as they go.

This makes their ranges extremely wide but unpolarized, which means they can have pretty much any hand at any time, especially before the flop.

As a general rule of thumb, you will want to play fairly straightforwardly against such players and allow them to hang themselves in a metaphorical sense of the word.

If the LAG is to your left, you should open relatively tight or even start limping into some cases with suited connectors of pocket pairs. Once the maniac raises it up, you will be free to call with your speculative hands or put in the big re-raise with your monsters, which they will rarely fold to.

Once you make a monster on the flop, you should keep the maniac on the hook by always checking to them and allowing them to make more bets.

A good time to raise a maniac is often on the turn, and if they are the type that’s completely unaware of what’s going on, you can size up your raises any way you want to.

Remember when playing against maniacs that there is absolutely no reason to try and balance your ranges in any way.

Play as exploitatively as possible, and feel free to advertise your hand as much as you want to. While the rest of the table may know what's going on, the maniac will keep pushing you until you stack them.

how to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Playing Against Good LAGs – The Most Difficult Task in Poker

Contrary to the maniacs who play a LAG style with a little game plan, good LAG players are extremely dangerous and often best avoided.

A good LAG will put you to the test while using a well-balanced range made up of value hands and bluffs alike, all designed to exploit your own mistakes.

Strong LAG players will always try to be in position against you, and playing on the right of this kind of player is best avoided.

If you are in an online game and you find a strong LAG on your left, you would do your best to switch tables or try to take the seat to their left.

In live games, you will often be allowed to switch seats as you wish, and you should absolutely do so and try to take a seat that’s not to the LAG’s left.

If you can have the position on the LAG, all you need to do is wait for them to try and exploit others and then take advantage of this yourself.

When a LAG applies the squeeze play on others, you can go ahead and bluff 4-bet over the top quite wide, often taking down the pot without any fight.

You will also get a lot more value for your monsters if the LAG is sitting to your right, as they will often open the pot for you or even put in a 3-bet before you have even acted.

If you are forced to play with a LAG to your left, you should play fairly tight and allow them to “run the table” while you wait for your spots and try to get paid with your big hands.

Keep in mind that even good LAGs will often bluff too much, so you should be inclined to try and set the trap as often as possible and allow them to bluff into you with their missed draws and weak hands.

With all this said, you will not go wrong by sticking to the GTO poker approach against strong aggressive players, and this is exactly what you should do if you do not know how to exploit them.

how to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Re-Stealing in the Blinds

One very popular and strong strategy when playing against LAGs in online cash games is to defend your blinds aggressively.

Good LAGs will never miss their opportunity to try and steal the blinds, and they will usually raise their button well over 50% of the time.

If you are sitting to the left of the LAG and he is constantly trying to steal your blinds, you should start 3-betting quite a bit.

You can add many hands into your 3-betting range in these spots because the LAGs range is so weak that he will rarely be able to defend their range enough, allowing you to instantly profit. If you size up your 3-bets, the opponent will be even more inclined to fold and let you have that one, especially if he is a good LAG.

If you are playing against a hyper-aggressive maniac, you should not 3-bet as much as he may be inclined to 4-bet bluff way more than he should, making your 3-bets less effective.

Against most decent LAGs, however, 3-betting wide from the blinds is a strategy that will work more often than not, and it's a pretty straightforward way to print money.

how to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Flop and Turn Raises – Print Money against LAGs

Most loose and aggressive poker players are used to running over their opponents and only ever facing resistance when others have very powerful hands.

We can use this to our advantage quite a bit by applying raises on various flops and turns where the LAG can have a very wide range.

One commonly used strategy against LAGs is to call a preflop raise, allow the LAG to c-bet, and then raise over the top of that bet with a wide range of draws or even just overcards.

While a regular opponent might have quite a few strong hands after deciding to c-bet, the LAG will often still have his entire range, consisting of a wide distribution of hands.

An even more efficient strategy is to wait until the turn to make your raise while only calling a bet on the flop. This is best done when we have a position against the LAG.

In this scenario, we will give ourselves a chance to make our hand on the turn. If we don’t, we will apply a raise on the turn, forcing the LAG to fold all his nonsensical bluffs and only continue with strong hands in his range.

What’s more, we should ensure that we still have at least some equity to fall back on in case the opponent decides to call our raise. Here is an example:

In a $1/2 online cash game, we are playing with effective stacks of $300. LAG raises from the middle position to $5, and we call on the button with 9h8h. The big blind also calls.

We see a flop of 7s6h2d. Big blind checks, LAG bets $10 into $16, we call, and the big blind folds.

The dealer deals out the turn, and it is a Jd. LAG bets $22 into $36, and we make a raise to $75. The LAG, who decided to keep on betting with his QT, A5, or a variety of other hands, is forced to fold his cards.

Of course, there will be times when the LAG will have AA, JJ, 76, 22, and other strong hands on this board, which is why it’s good that we are making our play with a drawing hand that still has some equity.

However, by waiting for the turn to make our play, we are making our hand look even more like 76, 66, or 22 going for value.

Since most players are prone to making raises with their draws on the flop, our turn raise will be more effective in getting the opponent to believe we are strong than a flop raise would.

This will reduce the number of times our opponent decides to re-bluff us and allow us to win extra money by forcing him to put in two bets instead of one.

Of course, this play will also cost us more if we are caught with our hand in the cookie jar, but in the long run, it will be massively +EV play if timed correctly.

how to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Setting the Trap – Get Paid with Your Monsters

In the previous example, I demonstrated how you would often be able to win in poker against LAGs when you have nothing. The reason, of course, is that LAGs will also usually have nothing either.

This is exactly why you should almost always opt for a slow play against a loose-aggressive player when you have a monster yourself.

Let us assume we had 66 in the previous hand and now held a set of sixes. Against a typical opponent who is betting flop and turn, raising the turn with a set would be a great play. Most opponents would not choose to bet the turn unless they had a big hand or a strong draw, making a raise most valuable option.

Yet, the LAG is still likely to have nothing and is also likely to keep firing on the river whether he improves or not.

For that reason, slow-playing your monster hands against LAGs is by far the best approach that will pay dividends in the long run.

The one thing to remember is that such opponents will sometimes improve into all sorts of nonsense on the river, and you will simply have to pay them off when that happens.

Don't let an occasional unlucky bad beat against a LAG beat you down, and keep playing the game that will beat them over the long haul.

Dealing with LAGs - Patience and Well-Timed Aggression

All the possible plays you can apply in beating a LAG can be summarized into two general concepts -  stay patient and apply your aggression strategically.

Some LAGs will keep firing on all cylinders, and it makes little sense to bluff a lot against them. Others will play a smart game and fold their bluffs when it seems they are up against a big hand.

The most difficult task you will face is determining what type of LAG you are up against, which will shape your game plan and your strategy.

In all cases, being patient and slow-playing your monsters against loose aggressive players is one of the top ways to get paid.

Keep positional advantage in mind and try to sit to the left of the LAG or leave the game altogether if the player is very strong. Look for better spots!

If you are stuck playing against a LAG, plan your multiple streets down the line, and don't allow yourself to get into any mind wars against such players. Play your game, and you will come out on top.

how to deal with loose aggressive players in poker

Join for Free

If you have the feeling you need to sharpen up your game then Pokercode is a great place to start. Sign up for a free account and set your first steps towards becoming a better poker player.

By signing up for a free account you will benefit from:

  • Access to a list of curated study content, including one of Fedor’s study videos
  • Participate in our free public coaching
  • An inside look at how the Pokercode community studies

Sign up now and don’t miss out!

Let us know what you think

More from Team Pokercode

Check out our other articles, interviews, and stories. You'll love it!

Explore all reads