Being the spider and not the lion in poker

Some years ago I wrote an article called “the lion and the spider”. In that article I mentioned how both of these creatures were predators in their own right. One is more high profile than the other and one probably makes for more interesting reading and viewing than the other and that is clearly the lion. However the way that both of these two creatures hunt is instructive! One is far more proactive than the other when it comes to hunting. The spider on the other hand likes to spin its web and then sit and wait.

Online poker is about waiting

I feel that there is far too much aggression in online poker these days and I think that there are several key reasons for that. Firstly the average online player is far more educated than a few years ago. Secondly the average player is only online for a fraction of the time that an average live player would be playing the game for. This is highly indicative because although in some ways online players are tighter because they can multi-table and play for rake and sign up bonuses and all the rest of it. They can also sometimes become aggressive simply because their playing session is relatively short and they are trying to make something happen.

Combining the strengths of both

This article may sound strange to some but poker links with nature more than many people are consciously aware. The ideal poker player in my opinion combines the strengths of these two predators. They combine the patience of the spider with the tenacity of the lion. The culmination of all of this is the stereotypical tight-aggressive style. However what needs to be pointed out here is that having a TAG style does not automatically constitute having to fold hand after hand.
A player can be TAG in relation to their environment. For example if you played full ring no limit then a good tight aggressive player may have a VPIP of around 16%. Now you couldn’t really transfer that VPIP figure into six max as it would be on the tight side and making profits would be difficult.

TAG is the key for most players

At six handed limit hold’em then a decent TAG player may have VPIP somewhere in the range of around 24%. So it is clear that a TAG is performing differently in either of these two environments. In full ring then a good multi-tabling TAG player at say NL100 may find that they get one situation more per day where they can stack their opponent than an overly tight player. If they play every day then this amounts to $3000/month simply by having the right frequency of folding and raising. A good TAG player is simply more aggressive than a mediocre TAG player.
The TAG style is simply the most successful style in terms of how much easier it is to implement and how it can get the better of weaker players. However this only applies if the TAG style is performed well but many players simply commit one of the biggest sins of all and they play far too many hands.