Nits can be found in every single poker game you might play. And it’s important that we at least have some semblance of an idea on how to beat these people more easily and more regularly, and what exactly we should be looking for when it comes to crafting our lines against these players.
First and foremost, what are nits? Well, nits are super-tight players and they’re even tighter than TAGs, which are tight, aggressive individuals. Nits have the discipline to play tight, but they take it way too far, like, egregiously tight when they’re playing. And the honest truth is you can find everywhere and at any single limit. Live and online, they’re there. 6-max versus full ring, they’re there.
You can also find them at any game. You can find them at Omaha and stud. It doesn’t matter, nits can be found everywhere. And it’s important because they’re all over the place that you know how to beat them and you have some easy plays you can slip right into your play book.
Now, to be honest, a lot of people hate nits. But you know who hates a nit? Another nit. The whole thing with a nit is that a nit wants to sit there at a game, they want to sit in the room with a bunch of fish in a very loose, aggressive game, where they can sit back, wait for aces, wait for monster hands and get paid off.
The fact of the matter is that when there’s multiple nits at the table, they just stare daggers at each other because they know exactly what each other is doing, but they’re kind of taking a seat away from a possible fish, and they get really pissy pants about that.
If you’re nitty right this moment, just understand that there are some situations where playing a little nittier can be okay, but if you’re always playing nitty, you’re leaving money on the table. And by understanding what ways you can abuse other nits, you’re going to find ways that people are probably abusing and exploiting you right this moment, so you can start making those fixes and get out of being nitty, and if nothing else, at least come into being some sort of tag.
Some other quick points is that the only real huge pots you’re going to win against a nit are going to be coolers. And it’s not a strategy or plan for beating a nit to cooler them, right? That’s never really a strategy. It’s something that happens from time to time, but it’s not our main plan to sit down and cooler the heck out of people. That’s not what we’re looking to do.
Because nits are essentially empty seats at the table, they allow you to pick up a lot of small pots, either directly from them, indirectly because they’re out of the way. And they allow you to win a lot of pots as well without showdown, which is extremely awesome, especially when it comes to bluffing.
STEAL THE NIT’S BLINDS. NON-STOP.
Let’s start it off with the first play, which is stealing. And against nits, we want to steal a ton of the time. The reason being is that their tightness is extremely visible preflop. They fold a ton against steals and thus we want to aggressively pick up their blinds. Whether we have a big hand, a weak hand, something in the middle, there’s a lot of opportunity for us to just fight preflop, pick up their blinds uncontested, and win a lot of pots without really having to do much of anything other than just push the raise button.
If you’re playing online, you’re using a poker HUD, look at things like someone’s fold versus attempt to steal. That’s a great piece of information to look at. And when there are multiple nits behind you, you want to be raising a lot more hands and just picking up a lot of uncontested pots preflop.
Remember, looking at this range in the top-right corner, if they’re only giving action preflop with things like deuces plus and some other fringe hands, it’s a situation where they’re only giving action about 20% of the time, which means 80% of the time, they’re going away because they don’t 3bet very often with nonsense hands. It’s a situation where you can steal a tremendous amount of the time, and you want to look for spots where you can just steal pots away from these nits preflop without risking much of anything.
FIRE BARRELS VS NITS.
The next play you want to run against nits a lot of the time is barreling and really understanding how many shells is it going to take to get this person to relinquish their hand. Remember, nits only want to get to showdown with really, really strong hands. They don’t want to get involved in a huge pot without a monster.
So if you can apply a bunch of pressure between now and showdown to get them to fold everything but monsters, you can oftentimes generate a tremendous amount of folds against them. So if we take this kind of example from 25 where we open preflop, they call. We continuation about the flop, they call, and we double-barrel on the turn, think about the kind of hands they’re going to want to continue with if you fire for $75 into $107.
If we plug into a flopzilla down below and think about the kind of hands that they would like to face a double-barrel with, chances are they’re folding a lot, right? Looking down to the bottom, you see they’re only having really strong hands, top pair plus and decent draws 38% of the time, which means 62% of the time, you’re probably going to get them to relinquish their hand, and, thus, you want to be firing that second shell.
Sometimes it takes two shells, sometimes it takes three, sometimes the first one will get it done, but, oftentimes, against nits, you want to be looking to bluff a tremendous, apply a tremendous amount of pressure, and take advantage of the fact that they don’t want to get to showdown. They don’t want to get involved in a huge pot without a monster. And let’s be honest, it’s pretty tough to catch a monster in this game.
NEVER PAY A NIT OFF.
And a very related play to that is the final one, which is don’t pay them off. Seriously, just don’t pay them off. Don’t feed into what they’re looking to do. So we take a situation like this. We’re playing live $1-$2. We open preflop, the nit calls, the nit decides to check-call the flop, and we double-barrel the turn and they decide to check-raise us.
What is this person check-raising with? Remember, a nit doesn’t want to get involved in a huge pot. They don’t want to create a huge pot without a huge hand. So are they going to be check-raising here with AJ, with A9, with T9 and semi-bluffing, with spades? No. That’s not the way they play. That’s not what they want to do. It doesn’t fit into their overall thought process and strategy. And as such, we don’t want to pay the off.
Yes, it can such folding two pair, but there are plenty of situations where against these nitty people, folding two pair becomes a serious consideration. Folding top pair, even top pair, top kicker can sometimes be an extremely serious consideration. So don’t pay them off. Don’t fall into the trap that they’re trying to set. Just barrel, barrel, barrel, value bet when you can, but if they decided that they want to start creating a huge pot, it’s really time to slow down and say, “Wait a second. Do I want to fall for that?” Chances are, you don’t.
While looking at these players, you may have started to notice the common trend, that getting value from nits is extremely tough, but bluffing is super-easy. And all of these adjustments that we’re talking about are range and math based, right? We’re looking at the range of hands they’re going to continue with. We’re looking at the break-even of our bluff if we’re looking for double and triple-barrels or we’re looking for 3bets or we’re looking for steals preflop.
All of these things are very, very number focused. And it’s not difficult numbers. It’s actually very, very simple. But all these adjustments are based on math and ranges. And at the end of the day, what is really happening here is that nits have a frequency issue. And those frequency issues are what create easy opportunities for us, right? It’s situations where they’re not continuing often enough against a double or a triple-barrel. And, thus, we can bluff easily.
They’re not continuing often enough against a steal, and, thus, we can bluff easily. They’re not bluffing themselves often enough and, thus, it’s very easy for us to get away from hands that might be more difficult against other player types. And that frequency issue and all the frequency issues that they have, become easy, easy ways for us to just abuse and exploit them in every single session. All of the tips and plays we discussed today are frequency-based and exploit frequency leaks in the nit strategy. And to be honest, every play you make in poker is based upon understanding and exploiting frequency issues near opponents game, whether they’re a nit, a tag, a fish, or anything in between.
This stuff is super, super important. And it’s so important in fact that I created a free webinar to help you understand this concept and put it to use. With five bluffs, you can start implementing more often and with more confidence. And best yet, you don’t need a PhD in math to understand it. Sign up today over at www.splitsuit.com/frequency and see how a frequency-driven approach to poker makes your life easier and more profitable. I look forward to seeing you over there!