What Is a Nit in Poker?


We’ve heard over and over from professionals that poker favors the bold, and if you want to win massive pots, you have to build it yourself. Despite all of these, some players are still playing too safe; these are the players that we call “nits.”

The term “nit” refers to a player who uses an exceedingly tight strategy in the game. He’ll never play a hand unless he’s confident that he’s ahead in rankings or, at least, has a good chance of winning. Some examples of hands that a nit will only bet on are AA, KK, QQ, JJ, and sometimes AK suited.

A nit will be raising very tight range preflop.
These are the hands that are typical for a nit to play. The nit might be so tight to never ever raise the hands like T9 suited.

There’s a consensus among professional players that nit is one of the weakest types of players and easiest to beat. Let’s discuss it in great detail by looking through their strengths and weaknesses. We’ll also share with you some tips that can help you crush nits in every table.

How a Nit Plays

Nits are overly passive players. They don’t like to gamble, and would rather play very few, premium hands than to take calculated risks to build the pot. They’re very patient players who are willing to wait for premium hands. However, even if they have a strong hand, they still try to avoid confrontations, unless they have the stone-cold-nuts.

If the whole table is full of nits it can happen often that everyone will fold. The majority of your win rate on such a table comes from raising preflop and stealing the blinds. But this doesn’t mean that you should raise preflop all the time. It is fine to open more from every position, but really loosen it up from the cutoff and button.

We all know someone who plays very tight, but there’s no advantage in playing too tight. Sometimes, nits end up being profitable, especially when playing with a maniac—a player who plays almost every hand and raises and re-raises 30% to 50% of the time (sometimes even more).

However, when a nit is playing with someone who knows how to crush passive players, it’ll be almost impossible for him to win—unless extreme luck intervenes.

That’s because playing too tight creates too many weaknesses that an experienced player can easily exploit.

Why Are Nits Considered to Be Weak Players?

Nits have frequencies with their strategies; they’re only opening a range of 44+/AJ+/KQ when they’re in the middle position, which is at 10% range. So, nits will fold 90% of the time during the pre-flop, and even if they get to the flop, they’d still be willing to fold top pair when they see action.

An example of a nit is someone who open-limps a pocket aces pre-flop. Many players will re-raise (3-bet) AA pre-flop and could see the river, regardless of the flop. However, a nit who sees a flop of T♠ 5♣ 3♥ won’t hesitate to fold, especially when a player before him re-raises.

A nit will only reach the turn when he has a considerable lead in rankings or a made hand at the flop. Other than that, he will fold whatever he has because he’s trying to avoid confrontations. If you’re playing against a nitty player, he’ll get too predictable over time, allowing you to exploit his strategy.

10% preflop raising range for a nit
Some players are so tight to only open roughly 10% of hands from the middle position.

When a nit reaches the turn, other players get too cautious because they know that he, most likely, already has a made hand.

When a nit bets, raises, and re-raises, everyone folds, except for maniac players. That’s how predictable nits are, and is the reason why professionals consider them to be the weakest type of player.

Aside from predictability, nits also have a huge weakness when playing—they’re the easiest to bluff. When a player plays too tight, even pocket aces won’t be enough for him to re-raise.

If you are afraid that other opponents might be bluffing you in online games, then you can’t miss the article: How to tell if someone is bluffing in online poker.

So if you know how to deal with nits, you’ll be able to crush them at any table. It won’t require special skills for you to do it, just remember that when a nit bets, he has a strong hand but will still consider folding when there is action.

Strategies That You Can Use Against Nits

When playing poker, you’re always going to face a passive player. They’re usually inexperienced players who like to stay within their comfort zone. It can be challenging to deal with them at first because they always, or at least they think they do, have the upper hand when they enter the flop.

Sometimes, despite a nit’s confidence with his hand, you’ll still have better cards. However, we can’t rely that much on luck, as we’ve discussed in the percentage of luck in poker. Here are some strategies that you can use to crush nits, regardless of the hands that they’re playing:

Play Loose and Steal Their Blinds

This strategy against nits is common among professional players, but too many players aren’t taking advantage of it.

If you’re playing against someone who folds 70% to 90% of their hands pre-flop, you will see a steady profit from steling their blinds.

When you’re playing with someone whose intention is only to make money with a strong hand, you’ll want to raise 50% of the hands you play. You can use anything remotely playable; cards that you wouldn’t even bother going to post-flop with against another type of player—even a two-suited gapper.

2.5x or 3x of the big blind should be enough to scare off a nitty player. You don’t have to play risky, betting a lot of chips pre-flop because, remember, when they do call your raise, you’ll be in a tight spot post-flop. To be a real master in your preflop raising size, check out tips on perfect preflop raise sizes for every position.

Re-Raise Experienced Nitty Players

Nits are easy to understand; that’s why they’re easy to beat. However, if you’re going to play micro-stakes these days, some nits would try to steal the blinds for themselves—just like how you’d be playing against an unsophisticated nit.

They’ll try to increase their opening range to 30%, but at least 20% is for stealing the blinds. When you’re facing this type of player, what you need is to re-raise (3-bet) preflop. Remember, they are risk-averse players who don’t want to play big pots unless they’re sure to win.

Based on my experience in playing micro-stakes tables, nitty players will fold a 3-bet 80% of the time. Try not to overdo this strategy when playing—just keep them guessing whether you’re ahead or happen to wake up to strong hands more often than everyone else. 

Shake Up Nits on the Flop and Turn

Open ended straight draw against a nit in poker.
With OESD you have 8 outs twice to hit your straight by the river. You also have backdoor flush draw on this flop. A good spot to apply pressure against a nit.

When you enter the flop, things will get a bit tricky because it’s most likely that a nit has a made hand. However, Partypoker released a recent study, telling us that there’s a 32.43% chance for a player to flop a pair. That means 2 out of 3; they’ll have nothing that can keep them playing post-flop.

You can shake them up with a bet of 50% to 60% of the pot. By doing this, you’re adding more pressure, forcing them to assess their hands and fold post-flop. However, you can’t be a loose player with this strategy because nits who reached the flop are quite confident with their hands.

When they reach the turn, you can still raise a nitty player, but you can’t do this all the time. It would be best if you had something to support your play, like draws or a middle pair.

An excellent example of a post-flop action is that if you have T♣ 9♣ and the flop is 8♣ 5♥ J♠. You have nothing by the flop, but you have eight outs for an open-ended straight draw with a 31.45% chance. There’s also a chance for you to get a backdoor flush draw, which can be advantageous when you reach the river.

When you’re in a similar situation against a nitty player, you only have three things to remember: raise, add pressure, and get them to fold!

Conclusion

A nit is a tight player that always plays safely. It’ll take a lot of time for them to earn chips, but they always play the long game. Being a loose player, taking calculated risks is the best way to crush nitty players.

Nits can easily be exploited by anyone, especially if you know how to handle them. However, it’s important to note that they can also be tricky and clever. So, you’ll have to be extra careful when playing against them.

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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