How to live the Lag-tacular live poker life

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By Sean Hansen

Hello, Ante Up Nation! Big thanks to the Ante Up crew for giving us the opportunity to contribute to this prestigious, notable, eminent and influential publication. We’re overflowing with joy, teeming with pride, bursting with … what? Oh yeah, you probably want to talk poker.

So, this month’s concept is shifting gears. If you’ve read our articles over at Southwest Poker News, you’ll know our modus operandi is all about ram-and-jam, run-em-over, take-no-prisoners, no-holes-barred aggression at the table. We’re not here to wait for hands; we’re here to gobble up every available chip at the table.

But as much as we love loose-aggressive play, it’s imperative you don’t become too predictable. There comes a point when you’re lagging it up when opponents no longer care about their hand strength anymore; they’re just sick of you taking down pots, and they will start calling you down lighter, and even the nittiest nits will start playing back at you.

Recognizing when the tide shifts isn’t hard; it’s almost palpable. Players start making comments, giving you the “contempt” face when you raise (ask Joe Navarro about that one), eyeballing you before they enter a pot, openly celebrating when you lose, even when they weren’t in the hand. When those things start happening, the jig is up.

So, do you crawl into a shell at this point? No, but you do have to tighten up your play. There’s no getting around it. Doing so can be difficult when you’re running over the table, as switching over into “nit” mode grates at your soul a bit. You’re tempted to turn up the heat when you face resistance, increase your preflop bet sizes, overbetting flops when you c-bet, and disbelieving check-raises. In short, you begin to feel bulletproof, and it’s not until you’re lying in a puddle of your own fluids that you realize, “Damn, I’m not Wolverine after all.”

When we say shift gears, we mean: Stop raising speculative hands, even in position; stop trying to isolate when there are a bunch of limpers in front of you because they expected you to raise and they aren’t folding; let a few flops go here and there when you miss with A-K/A-Q; you don’t have to c-bet 100 percent of the time; stop floating; fire away with impunity when you smash a flop. They are ready to call you down or play back at you, so show no mercy when you make a hand.

Basically, revert to TAG poker. Play for value. You shouldn’t be lagging it up at all if your TAG game isn’t solid, so this adjustment should be easy. Right? RIGHT?

Run good, and play better.

— Sean Hansen is the founder of Big Slick Poker Academy.