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Being a TAGfish, by Steve Larson
(A poker player who uses a Tight-AGgressive strategy.)

Being a TAGfish sucks. There are no two ways about it. Belonging to this player category is like a quicksand trap for most players: easy to walk into and often impossible to escape. I know what I’m talking about because I must admit I was stuck in this very situation once myself, and it was only through serious attitude and willingness to improve and learn that I managed to leave the predicament behind.

Being a TAGfish is not something rare. Just log on to a poker forum and check out the posts there. The majority of people bragging about their winnings and berating others are actually quite probably TAGfish themselves.

One doesn’t have to be a particularly careless or plain dumb to fall into this trap. It sneakiness resides in the way it creeps up on the most reasonable players and engulfs them without ever even hinting to its intentions.

Even if you think about yourself as a reasonable to good player (and who doesn’t?), you may be a TAGfish and not even know it. The fact that makes being a TAGfish extremely dangerous is that TAGfish are actually knowledgeable players with good stats. Nothing seems to point to the fact that something’s wrong, except their inability to win consistently.

Here are some of the symptoms of this most dangerous and subtle poker "disease", to help you diagnose your own playing style and to possibly help you crawl out of a pit you didn’t even realize you were in.

One of the signs that you may be a TAGfish is that you consider your opponent’s range carefully, but you never really pay any attention to your own perceived range. What this translates to is that you’ve failed to reach a high enough level of poker thought to be efficient. Putting your opponent on a range won’t be of much use if you fail to take into account the way he sees you, because his actions will depend on what he thinks you’ll do and what he thinks you have.

A TAGfish is a player who invests time into acquiring new poker skills. Then he goes and misapplies the skills he learns. An example would be the floating bluff. The most efficient way to keep a C-bettor under control, floating is generally considered a pure bluff, which means you do it on rags usually, but you shouldn’t take that definition literally. Your floating bluffs will be the most efficient when you leave a little gate open for yourself by floating with a drawing hand instead of pure air. TAGfish know about floating and they know what it’s supposed to achieve, it’s just that they tend to do it with air all the time. After all, it is supposed to be a pure bluff, right? Not really…

Failing to adjust your calling range according to your position could be another sign of being a TAGfish. Being in the cut-off may be late position, but you should never lose sight of the fact that there’s one more player to act after you: the guy in the button. Ignoring him won’t make him go away and not adjusting your calling range on account of his presence will go down as a typical TAGfish mistake.

Overestimating the implied odds when set-mining for instance, is another typical TAGfish error. Sure, those odds look great on paper and they work well in theory, but in practice things are never that simple. You will often fail to get someone all-in even if you do land that set and sometimes your set will lose out to a bigger hand.

Not taking advantage of rakeback where available is more of a rookie mistake than a TAGfish one. A rakeback deal (at can provide you a very nice edge and if you fail to pick up such simple to secure spoils, I doubt it that you even qualify as a TAGfish, to begin with…

About the author:

Steve Larson is an online poker player from Canada. Visit his rakeback site for more useful tips.

[Article submitted February 2010]

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