A “nit” is a player with a noticeably weak playing style, and they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
With so many nits out there, learning how to exploit them is very important for your long term win-rate. And beyond that, it’s actually pretty darn fun to exploit these players.
Today we’ll discuss how to crush the nits. We’ll first discuss what defines a nitty player, and then I’ll break down a 10 specific nitty tendencies and how to exploit them.
Note that most of the advice in this article will be based on stats that you should get on your HUD, if you don’t have them already.
What kind of nit are we dealing with?
Overall, all nitty players are characterized by an unwillingness to put money in the pot. But that could mean that they are too tight preflop, postflop, or both.
Of course, “too tight” is quite a vague description. You can get more specific as you gain information.
For example, you might encounter a player who open-raises too wide but defends too tight in the blinds. Or you might encounter a player who never 3-bets without a premium hand but seems to defend her big blind with any two cards.
For postflop, you might find a player that folds 60% vs. c-bets on the flop (which is a lot), but then only folds 30% against turn and river barrels. It cannot be understated how helpful it is to know a player’s quirks and tendencies when trying to exploit them effectively.
This is where a HUD comes in handy. With a big enough sample of hands on your opponent, you can see exactly how he is playing too tight. If you play live or on a site without HUDs, you’ll have to piece together your nitty opponent’s strategy by observing showdowns and making inferences.
How To Exploit The Nits
Now let’s talk particular exploits. We will look at different nitty tendencies, and then discuss how to implement a profitable exploit. We’ll start with preflop and work our way deeper into the game tree.
Nitty Preflop Tendencies and How to Exploit Them
1. Open-raising too tight
Against a player with a tighter open-raising range, we should tighten our continuing range. That means less 3-betting and cold-calling.
For example, suppose an opponent is only opening a 12% range (pictured below) from middle position (MP) and you are on the button (BU).
Unless this opponent plays horribly postflop, you will need to tighten your calling range to something like 88–JJ/QQ, AQ, ATs–AQs, KJs+; and your 3-betting range to something like QQ+, AK and A2s–A5s.
2. Folding too much against 3-bets
Against this type of opponent, you should expand your 3-bet bluffing range to include more A-x and K-x suited hands (A2s–A9s and K6s–K9s), and add some of the offsuit broadway hands, like AJo and KQo.
You should also drop some of the thin value 3-bets as they will realize more by just calling (hands like AQ, AJs, KQs).
3. Folding too much in the BB
This kind of player is far more common than the others (especially at the lower stakes). You should adjust by open-raising more from the BU. So, for example, you should start opening the pink hands from the Upswing Lab approved range:
The tighter the player in the BB is, the more pink hands you should raise. The suited hands should be added first (they realize equity the best), then T8o –K8o, 54o–87o, and then the rest.
HUD users: Let’s say we add the first batch if the BB is folding 60–62% of the time against a BU open. Add the second batch if he’s folding ~65%, and the third batch if he folding over 65% of the time against a BU open.
The SB is also an important part of the equation. If he’s an aggressive pro or recreational player who defends over 15% of the time, then he is a deterrent to open-raising and we should tighten our range.
4. 3-betting too tight (5% or less)
This is another common leak at lower stakes online. The counter adjustment is to call more pocket pairs, since they get better implied odds, and since you will be up against an overpair more often.
You should also fold more of those too-strong-to-fold hands, such as AQo, AJs, KQs, since they will be in reverse implied odds situations more often.
5. 4-betting too tight (2.3% or less 4-bet range)
This is another common leak across all stakes. Against these players you simply need to snap fold everything worse than QQ+ and AK. (It hurts, I know.)
Nitty Postflop Tendencies and How to Exploit Them
1. Folding too much against c-bets and barrels (50%+)
This is a pretty common leak of which you should be aware. Against these players you need to ramp up the aggression with anything that looks remotely bluffy.
Look for the street(s) when this leak occurs and how your opponent plays the streets that follow. Also, be mindful of your sample size.
If your opponent is folding, say, 55% against c-bets when he is out of position on the flop, but then only folds 35% of the time against a double barrel, then your plan should be to fire just one barrel with a lot of your bluffs. If you continue barreling, you risk blowing to smithereens all the EV that you gained on the flop.
2. Check-folding too much as the preflop raiser (flop, turn or river)
Against this type of player you should float bet much more often. Your range should now include all your non-made hands (including Ax) and your vulnerable pairs. This is the correct adjustment because this type of opponent is very likely to have an unbalanced check-raising range, which means that whenever you get raised you will be behind, but you can steal all his equity when he check-calls.
You should be very careful with double barreling, because your opponent will check-call twice very often. This means that your plan should be to bet one-and-done with vulnerable pairs and air ball hands, and to triple barrel with the top of your range and your stronger semi-bluffs.
3. Under-bluffing when firing the third barrel
A really common leak is failing to fire the third barrel as a bluff enough. Against players with this leak you should adjust by making many tough folds.
Another lesser-known exploit is to overcall against the player’s turn c-bet. This is a nifty way to retain a larger percentage of the pot, since you will not be forced to fold the better hand on the river nearly as often as you would against a more balanced player. This works because you will basically win against all his bluffs, against which you would normally fold when he bets the river.
4. Folding too much against probe bets (bet vs. missed c-bet as the OOP player)
Players with this leak understand poker in a very value-oriented way. When they bet, they have a stronger than normal range, which leaves their checking ranges weak and unprotected. You should adjust by putting a lot of pressure on those weak ranges with big and frequent probe bets.
5. Folding too much against delayed c-bets
This is another leak for players with a value-oriented style. Since they tend to bet too many hands for thin value, when they check instead of making a probe bet their range becomes weaker than it should be. Consequently, you can adjust in the same way as before: bet big and bet frequently.
This article has covered the main ways to exploit nitty players, but if I had to sum up those exploits in one sentence it would be this: Fold more when they bet, and bluff more when they check.
That’s it for today! If you have questions or feedback don’t hesitate to use the comment section below.
Good luck, grinders!
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Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games.