Jake Cody: How to play a super-LAG game

Triple-crown winner Jake Cody is one of the most fearless and aggressive live tournament players in the world. Here are his top tips for playing a super-LAG game

Some players often seem as though they are playing every single hand in a tournament. They’ll raise preflop, double-barrel every turn card and four-bet shove all-in before turning over a stone-cold bluff. It looks easy, cool and, dare we say it, a little bit sexy, but in reality playing a very loose, hyper-aggressive style in live tournaments is one of the hardest skills a player can master.

To find out how the experts do it, we tracked down Jake Cody to get his top tips on how to play like a maniac – and win!

1. Isolate the limpers

You want to get heads-up against players in position. You’re going to be able to win loads of chips that way. If you isolate players who limp you take the aggressive action preflop and make it very hard for them to win the pot. They have to have the best hand to win, whereas you can have a hand or easily bluff them off the pot.

Let’s say you isolate with K-Q, the flop comes Jack-high and your continuation bet is called. Now the turn is an Ace, they check and you double-barrel. It puts the limper under a ton of pressure, as they can never have a big hand. To win the pot they are going to have to make tough calls and have the best hand at showdown, whereas you can use aggression to make them fold.

Position is hugely important though; just check out of the big blind if you don’t have a strong hand instead of trying to isolate. You do need some semblance of a hand too. If someone has limped in the cutoff and I’m on the button I would isolate really wide, including hands like J-7 suited or anything playable really – but there’s no need to go crazy with complete air.

2. Three-bet relentlessly

If you just call other players’ raises preflop it’s much harder to win a hand than if you three-bet and put them under a lot of pressure. If you have a hand like 8-8 and get three-bet when you’re playing with 40 or 50 big blinds it’s so hard to play, especially out of position. But if you three-bet instead, you’re putting your opponents in terrible spots all the time. You can quickly accumulate a huge stack without ever hitting big hands if they fold preflop or to a continuation bet.

It’s fine to have a really polarised range when you’re three-betting. I’ll have hands that I’m willing to get all-in with such as Q-Q+ and A-K, but also other hands like T-7 suited that I can’t just call with. I don’t mind three-betting decent hands such as K-J, but you have to be really aware of the table and consider when other players will be playing back at you light before they actually do. If you get the feeling that nobody will fold to you it’s fine to tighten up for a bit too.

Three-betting in position is key. Being the last to act means you have control of the pot. If you’re three-betting people in position and they aren’t playing back at you much, you are going to crush them.

3. Exploit stack sizes

Along with the people you are playing against, stack size is the most important thing. The deeper you are the better, because you can put them under more pressure on later streets as well. You don’t want to be light three-betting people who have less than 25 big blinds. If you three-bet a guy who has between 20 and 30 big blinds you get in so many awkward spots, especially if you have a medium strength hand like 9-9 or T-T and they then shove on you. This is one of the rare spots where I’d rather call. If I three-bet they’re going to fold all worse hands and just shove all better hands. 

4. Make adjustments

When playing a very loose-aggressive style you have to be really flexible. It’s fun to play but you can easily mess up, as you’ll be in awkward spots more of the time. For example, if I think a player is good I could three-bet and then call their four-bet shove with a hand as weak as 7-7 or A-T. If a guy is really tight I won’t be calling, but I know that good players will know that I’m just trying to put them in a tough situation. That means I have to call their shove with hands such as 7-7 to make it okay to three-bet in the first place, otherwise I may as well be raising with 7-2.

5. Keep firing postflop

Let’s say you raise and the button calls, leaving you out of position for the rest of the hand. I’ll probably fire one bullet a lot of the time. The exception is on super-wet boards such as J-T-7♠ where I may just check/fold. On other flops like K-9-3 I’ll bet the flop and possibly barrel the turn too. It’s okay to play more flops live than online, as the stacks are often deeper. The best boards for double-barrelling are paired boards such as 5-5-4 where there are going to be a lot of scary turn cards. If the turn is a Queen or King you can bet again and make it really hard for your opponent to continue.

6. Get paid off

I probably get paid off way more than I should. People never believe me because I play so loose, so it’s great when I pick up a big hand. A lot of this style is table-dependent too. Most of the time you’ll be able to play it, but sometimes you really just have to lock up. If you have a lot of calling stations on the table you’ll be seeing a lot of multi-way pots and it will be really hard to win. In those spots you have to slow down and just wait for hands.

7. Sometimes you will look stupid

If you play this style you are going to look silly sometimes – it’s just what happens. You’re going to get called in spots where you didn’t think it was possible. Players will make some good calls against you when you’re bluffing but you really have to go with your gut instinct and your reads. If you feel you’re a good player you should be able to get it right more than they do. It takes a lot of time to win playing this style, but in general you can make a lot of money from it if you play well.

8. Don’t stop pushing

When you get near the money I think you should just go for it and not really bother about busting out for a min-cash. You really need to win the tournament to make real money. The best time for playing a LAG style is on the bubble and the final table – that’s where it’s most profitable. The players who are not used to playing for that amount of money get a lot tighter so you can abuse them even more. They look at the money ladder and think that if they just fold this hand they can move up a couple of thousand more or whatever. Unless the money is absolutely life-changing for you, you should just go for the win.

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