What is a nit in poker?
A “nit” is a negative poker term, meaning a player who only wants to play the strongest hands and rarely takes any risk. A nitty play can happen preflop or postflop, or through the whole hand.
There are many different varieties of nit players. Some may play like a nit in most areas of the game, while others will play nitty in specific situations.
Playing safe and staying away from danger might seem like a decent strategy to a nitty player, but it doesn’t work long-term. Experience teaches poker players to adjust their actions, meaning they become less nitty.
That’s the definition of a nit, but how do they play poker, and what moves can you make against them?
How Does a Nit Play Poker?
Playing poker like a nit is something that other players will notice and take advantage of. Nits are easy to adapt to, especially in postflop situations.
Rather than taking chances and playing with middle-strength hands, you can be sure that a nit is usually holding something decent. When a nit plays back at you and shows commitment to a pot, it’s usually a made hand or a draw with significant equity. Bluffs, semi-bluffs, and low pairs don’t really fall into their range very often.
Here are four things you may see nits doing at the poker tables.
1. Nits misunderstand or don’t think about ranges.
A nit usually feels more comfortable in preflop situations, before the hand has any draws or hand combinations involved. Once the play moves postflop, a nit usually can’t wrap their head around the full range of hands their opponent has. This causes the nit player to fold in many spots they shouldn’t and generally misplay hands.
2. Nits become targets at the poker table.
If you noticed that someone was playing too tight and folding way too much, what would your adjustment be? For starters, you could choose to isolate the nit and re-raise them for value or as a bluff. In general, a nit doesn’t want to call a triple barrel without the absolute top of their range. They can be exploited in other ways too, like stealing their blinds.
3. Nits miss value in lots of spots.
There might be money left on the table if the nit is the one betting. They prefer to value bet with stronger-than-necessary cards, meaning they miss value in the other pots.
4. Nits usually have VPIPs lower than 20%.
VPIP stands for Voluntarily Put In Pot. This stat will tell you how often a player is choosing to enter pots and you can see it with a HUD. It’s a good starting point if you want to see how tight or loose a player is.
To get a heads-up display for online poker, you’ll need to visit our shop. There are plenty of free trials that will set you up with a professional heads-up display. As soon as you start playing, you’ll start building a database of stats. The more you play, the more information you will have about your opponents.
Are You a Nit? Here’s How to Stop
If you feel that you might be on the nitty side, start getting familiar with ranges. Understanding which hands you should have (and what your opponents should have) will stop you from making as many nitty moves at the poker tables. Instead of playing with a small selection of your best hands, you’ll start including a healthy range of holdings.
You’ll be able to defend knowing more about what your opponents could be open-raising or 3-betting with.
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How You Can Exploit a Nit
When you play against nitty players, there are a few adjustments you should be making.
3-bet a wider range against nits who fold too often.
The definition of a nit is a player who doesn’t want to face extra risk, which is exactly what a 3-bet signals to a nit. Make re-raises against nits more often, with a range that includes suited A-x and K-x hands, plus offsuit broadway hands. If you get 4-bet, that should set off alarm bells.
Steal blinds and pots from the nit during early betting stages.
The nits are unlikely to defend their blinds often enough, so work some steals and early aggression into your strategy. If you are 3-bet by the nit from either blind position, you can be almost certain you’re up against a strong hand. Nits aren’t going to have a balanced 3-bet strategy (most of the time), so it will be easier to tell when you are behind.
Be prepared to fold in some spots you usually wouldn’t.
When a nit is the open raiser, you should be tightening the range of hands you continue with. They’ve got a stronger-than-average range, so you should tighten yours too, not give the nit action while they’re clearly strong. If a nit raises your bet, consider laying down a large portion of your range.
Consider playing your draws more aggressively.
Your draws can be played more aggressively against nits. Their continuing range is stronger than other players’ which will put the rest of their range in a tough spot when you barrel. Remember that nits continue with a very low frequency of their range, so your check-raises and 3-bets are extra effective.