What is a Nit in poker?
First of all, lets understand what nit poker is. A nit is a negative word that describes the tightest and most risk averse poker players around. It’s a term that can be heard in poker rooms all over the world. It can often be heard when a player loses action or folds a big hand and derides the opponent by calling him a nit.
A real nit is an insect that can be found on children’s heads. They are itchy, irritating and suck the blood out of the head. I am not sure why this was twinned with the most prudent of poker players? Nevertheless, this is what they are.
Nits Are Predictable
A nit is very easy to play against for several reasons. You know they won’t be bluffing; you know they only play a small range of hands and you know they won’t gamble. Poker is a game of missing information, with a nit, by process of elimination, you have a lot of information already. They play their range of hands and they play them the same way most of the time.
If you are playing predictably, you are making it easier for your opponents. This is contrary to what you are trying to achieve. You want to be difficult to read and to enforce errors from your opponents.
Nits Miss Out on Value
Due to the cautious nature of a nit, they will miss out on value a lot of the time. Even an intermediate player will be prepared to fold a strong hand if a nit is putting a lot of money in the pot. They also miss out on value by checking back hands they should be value betting or playing flop and turns cautiously when they should be betting and inflating the pot for value later.
Nits Hit a Ceiling at Low Stakes
A decade ago, nit poker may be enough to get you moving up the stakes. By employing a cautious style against players who multi-tabling and not paying attention, one could still have a decent win rate and move up stakes. This is simply not the case anymore. A nit can’t crush the mid stakes. As a result they are restricted to the lower stakes games. Players are better now than before. The game is always evolving and getting tougher. It’s survival of the fittest to get to the higher stakes. The fact is, nit poker won’t cut it in today’s poker world.
Nits are More Likely to Get Bluffed
The range of a nit is well defined before you even get to a flop. An experienced player will know the range of hands you are playing from all positions at the table. As such, on certain board textures, they will abuse a nit. In deep stacked cash games, a nit may hold:
A nit will often fold this to a lot of pressure. An astute player reads them for a one pair hand, and liable to fold to big betting. The worst part is, the nit probably thinks they have made a good fold in this spot. In fact, they’ve been outplayed and lost money.
Nits Lack Ambition
This is a debatable point. It’s meant from a theoretical and intellectual point of view. Anyone employing a strategy that involves playing under 15% of hands are not very ambitious, in my humble opinion. Strong poker players are profitable precisely because they have played many hands in different scenarios. They are able to adapt to difficult situations.
I don’t mean to pass judgement on nit poker. I am simply highlighting the drawbacks of the nit poker style; how it is unlikely to generate much money in the modern era and beyond. There are games where nit poker will win you money and that’s fine. I am hoping to reach players out there that are keen to improve their game. I want them to understand that they can increase their earning potential and poker ability by modifying their strategy. My intention was not to upset anyone who identifies as a nit.
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