Different Types of Poker Styles
Whether playing in a casino or a bedroom, serious poker players focus as much on their opponents as they do the cards on the table. Apart from formulating strategies to beat computerized casino machines, you also need to acquire some sort of poker playing style to gain some advantages.
This move may be successful against certain opponents but backfire against others—if you don’t know the types of players you have at your table, you won’t have the strategic tools you need to win. By studying your own style of play and figuring out how other people are playing, you’ll be able to play strategically… and win the big bucks! You can figure out what styles are in play at your table by watching how many starting hands a player usually plays (known as tight or loose) and the players’ betting patterns (active or passive). The four main types of play are:
Loose-passive players are often amateurs and the least talented are known insultingly as “fish.” They’re in it to play: loose-passive players will check or call with even the most marginal hands, hoping something amazing will appear. These players are sometimes known as “calling stations,” because they’ll call most hands. When playing against a loose-passive player, make sure not to scare them away: instead of big bets, continue raising the pot just enough to keep them in the hand. It’s best to avoid bluffing these players, because they’re more likely to call with weak hands.
Tight-passive players tend to haunt the tables, waiting for a big hand or a great flop before swinging into action. They’re very good at knowing which starting hands hold promise, but they are not apt to raise or call unless they have a strong hand. They rarely bluff, which means that this style of player is extremely easy to read. If you’re a tight-passive player, try to mix up your play a little bit so you’re less predictable.
Sometimes called a “maniac,” this player bets aggressively on a wide variety of hands. Loose-aggressive players are not particularly selective about which and how many starting hands to play. They may make aggressive bets even while holding poor cards, hoping to intimidate other players into folding. Some of the best poker players in the world play with a loose-aggressive style, but others learn that this style of play can quickly leave them broke.
Most pros agree that the tight-aggressive style, executed well, is the most reliably successful and profitable way to play online poker. Tight-aggressive players tend to be choosy about their starting hands, but once they have strong cards they bet aggressively throughout the game. They only bluff occasionally, but because they otherwise bet on strong hands, these bluffs can succeed.
The downside to this style of play is that it’s very recognizable: you have to intentionally mix it up sometimes to keep from being totally typecast by the other players at your table.
Most people have one primary style of play, but the best poker players know how to use elements from each of them to always keep their opponents guessing. Just as you’re trying to read your opponents, they’re trying to read you: take a look at yourself and mix it up if you’re too predictable.