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How to Beat NITs in Your Poker Games


There used to be a time when playing like a poker nit was one of the best ways to beat the games, or at least that’s what many poker pros at the time thought.

In reality, the nit poker approach is not a great way to make money in poker, although it can work quite well against opponents who are unaware of what you are doing and aren’t ready to exploit you.

The nits in poker are very distant from the modern GTO strategy, and it relies on playing only strong hands and getting value when you have it while protecting your stack when you don't.

We will teach you how to play like a nit, nor will I advocate this strategy. Instead, we will teach you how to crush nits and take their lunch money every time you play them.

The first question we must answer is what a poker nit is and how exactly he built his poker strategy, so let’s start there.

How to beat nits in your poker games

What Is a Poker Nit?

Nits are one of the big groups of poker players, much like LAGs or calling stations, and have certain tendencies that can be heavily exploited.

A nit, by definition, plays very tight preflop. This player will never enter too many pots, and he will never have a VPIP of more than 15%, even in a six-max game.

As you probably know, this is extremely low for ring games, which means that the player is folding many hands that could be easily played profitably.

For instance, a poker nit will fold small pocket pairs in earlier positions, ditch hands like K8s on the button, and only defend his blind with “good” holdings.

Knowing that the nit’s preflop range is so tight will be a massive advantage for us, as we will be able to completely dismiss many hands from his range on later streets.

To make things even juicier for us, poker nits also tend to play timidly after the flop's been dealt. They will not aggressively play their medium-value hands and rarely bluff on multiple streets.

All of these tendencies will help us crush these players in our games, so let’s start with some simple tricks to beat poker nits and build from there.

how to beat nits in your poker games
NITs play a lot tighter than GTO tells them to play

Crushing Nits Preflop – Stealing the Blinds

Because of their extremely tight preflop play, nits are the best category of players to start crushing before the flop is even dealt.

Of course, the easiest way to do that is to relentlessly steal their blinds. While typical opponents will defend their blinds somewhat loosely, a poker nit will only defend if his hand is in the top 20-25%.

This means that if you are sitting to the right of the nit, you will be able to steal his blind 75-80% of the time with no resistance.

If you are two or three positions to the right of the nit, you should attack their blind a lot when you are seated in the cutoff or the button. The small blind will tend to defend less in general, and the nit will fold his big blind most of the time.

Even when the nit does decide to defend the blind, he will continue playing passively and weak on each following street.

In most cases, a small c-bet will be enough to take the pot down after the flop is dealt regardless of the board texture. The nit will either hit the flop or fold his cards.

The one important thing to remember here is to give up when nits start playing back at you and your hand is not very strong. Chances are he has a big hand, and you don't want to stack off against the nuts for no good reason.

Crushing Nits Preflop – The Re-Steal

The next thing you can do to beat poker nits before the flop is aggressively re-steal against their later position raises.

In early positions, the nit will tend to have only the absolute premiums, hands like AA, KK, and AK, which you don’t want to go up against.

However, when a nit raises from the cutoff or the button, he will have a hand like KJs, JTs, 98s, AJ, KQ, etc.

While these are all hands that a typical opponent would continue with after facing a 3-bet, a nit will usually let these hands go and never 4-bet them.

Poker nits tend to “look for better spots” whenever they don’t have the nuts and are facing aggression. A nit will often fold KJs facing a standard 3-bet, even if he is in position.

When you are playing against a player like this, you should very aggressively 3-bet against his late position raises.

If you are playing online, you should make sure to have the “fold to 3-bet” stat in your HUD. If the nit’s number is very high, you should 3-bet their late position raise with a wide range of playable hands (Kxs, Axs, suited connectors, pocket pairs, etc.).

Nits will also tend to play their hands in a straightforward manner, which means you will face a 4-bet when they have a monster hand and may get called in other cases.

If your 3-bet gets called, you can try to win the pot with a c-bet on many boards and usually get away with it since the nit will play fit-or-fold on the flop.

how to beat nits in your poker games
Steal the blinds from nits who don't play back!

Crushing the Nits Postflop – Raising or Floating the Flop

The old-school poker strategy that nits tend to use includes only one major postflop bluff play: the continuation bet.

Assuming he has a tight image, the nit will often fire out a c-bet on the flop, looking to win the pot by representing a monster.

However, we already know that the nit doesn’t always have a monster and that he will only be ready to stack off with two pairs or better in most cases.

For this reason, we can do quite a lot to crush poker nits on the flop as well. The best boards to do this on are coordinated boards with middling to low cards, where the nit is unlikely to have a big hand.

There are two ways to answer a nit’s c-bet, and this is by either calling the bet or raising it straight away.

Typically, we will want to apply more floats when we are in position; while out of position, we may want to check-raise more often.

By floating the flop out of position, we allow the nit to check back on the turn, which can put us into a difficult spot on the river, although river check-raises and leads also work like a charm against them.

Crushing the Nits Postflop – Probe Away

While poker nits are fairly tight before the flop, they will still call your raises some of the time and make you fight them on the flop.

This will often happen when they are in the big blind and heavily priced in to make a call or when they have a strong hand like 88 or 98s, which they want to see a flop with.

The great thing about poker nits, however, is that they don't like to fight for pots too much, and they are happy to give up the hand if they don't get the flop they imagined.

While most players would continue against a c-bet with 88 on a board like Qx 7x 5x, the nit may simply let you have the pot right then and there.

A poker nit might also fold a hand like 98s on a board like this, despite having the gutshot straight draw, and your hand is very likely to be nothing more than a high-card.

Nits don't like to bluff or get creative and will only put in raises as a bluff when they have monster draws. In all other situations, they will play their hand fairly straight up.

Even if the nit does call the flop and checks the turn, you will still be able to win the pot very often with another bet, especially if a scare card hits the turn.

A nit may call one small bet with top pair, but the moment an overcard hits the turn and you fire another sizable bet, they will run scared and look for a new hand a lot of the time.

Bet often against nits if you want to get the best possible results, and don't be afraid of occasionally getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar when they do have a monster.

how to beat nits in your poker games
You can adapt the way you play against NITs and exploit their tendencies

Playing Against Nit’s 3-bets and 4-bets

If there is one thing that you can count on when you are playing against a nit, it is that their ranges will be tighter than most players across the board.

A nit will rarely 3-bet a hand that’s not extremely strong and will literally have no bluffs in his range when he fires a 4-bet.

In fact, even the nit’s 3-betting range is made up of value hands mostly, with a hand even as strong as AQs usually being the weakest they can have.

When you face a 4-bet from a nit, you can be sure that even AK is no longer in their range and that a hand like QQ or AKs is the weakest, depending on the effective stack size.

All of this makes playing against nit’s re-raises very easy. For the most part, you want to fold your cards when they 3-bet or 4-bet you, as your range is simply crushed.

However, if you are deep enough and have a position, you could call some 3-bets with strong speculative hands like 98s to try and get the nit’s whole stack.

Yet, you should make sure that you are indeed deep enough for such a play, as nits don’t like going broke with a hand like AA on connected boards when they don’t improve.

The one good thing about facing a re-raise from a nit is that when you have a hand like AA or KK, you will often be able to simply shove all in and get called by a hand like QQ or AKs, which they won't be able to fold.

Barring such cooler scenarios, you will want to stay out of the way of the aggressive nit before the flop, as your range will have little hope of actually going up against theirs in a fair fight.

how to beat nits in your poker games

Beware of the Nit’s Bets

For the most part, you will be able to run over a poker nit on every street and in every situation. The one exception, of course, is when they have a monster hand.

The nit spends his entire poker career dreaming of the scenarios where he has pocket aces, or a flopped set and a sucker gives him their whole stack.

You want to make sure you are not that sucker! You can do this by being very careful and attentive and thinking about the nit’s range as much tighter than an average player's.

Hands like top pair with top kicker may be an easy stack-off against some aggressive players, but against a poker nit, these hands quickly lose their value.

When the nit fires more than one bet into you, you can be pretty sure that their hand is stronger than just one pair. In most cases, they have a monster hand if they drive the action.

Remember, you are winning so many chips from this player in all other situations that you don’t need to lose hundreds of big blinds in what would be an unavoidable cooler against any other player at the table.

how to beat nits in your poker games

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