Poker Player Styles

Published: 13/12/2010

No two Poker players have exactly the same style of play. In fact, no individual Poker player plays the same way 100% of the time. But for the sake of understanding their basic approaches to the game, it is helpful to categorize a player’s style as either tight or loose and passive of aggressive.

A tight player waits for premium cards and does not play many hands, whereas a loose player challenges often. Similarly, a passive player prefers to check or call, while an aggressive player will more often bet and raise.

Pairing these characteristics yield four very different varieties of play: Tight Passive, Tight Aggressive, Loose Passive, and Loose Aggressive. Following are the characteristics of each, along with some insights into how each style fares are the table.

Tight Passive

The nickname for the Tight-Passive player is “The Rock” He or she just seems to sit there, immovable like a huge boulder, playing very few hands and being ultra cautious when active past the flop. This player’s ability to wait for premium hands works in his/her favor. Patience is a strength in Poker. But the inability of take control and drive forward when opportunity knocks is a detriment.

Tight Passive players do well against Loose Passive players, but often fall prey to Tight Aggressive players who steal blinds. And when a Rock starts to roll, it is pretty easy for other players to step aside. Players who discover their style falls in this category are advised to bet and raise more often on good hands. When playing against a Rock, betting and raising will usually scare him/her off, but if he/she comes back, simply fold to avoid getting trapped.

Tight Aggressive

This type of player does not stay in for many flops, either—perhaps as few as 20%—but he/she will push the limits on the few hands played. Betting, raising, and check-raising are some sure signs of Tight Aggressive behaviour. As it turns out, the majority of successful professional Poker players exhibit this style. They combine the virtuous patience of the Tight Passive player with a willingness to take risks, which the game of Poker tends to reward.

If there is any weakness to this style of play, it is apparent at short-handed tables, when tightness can backfire. The cost of blinds and antes can eat up the stack of a player waiting for the right cards to play. Anyone who has this style of play is on the right track, but should loosen up as opponents leave the table.

Loose Passive

When a player stays in for lots of hands, but does not bet or raise much, he/she is exhibiting Loose Passive behaviour. Checking, calling, and folding are the primary characteristics to look for. A nickname for such a person is the “Calling Station,” willing to match any wager but not to take the lead.

Loose Passive players feed the pot. They lose often or go down without a fight. They include beginners who say things like “it feels better in” or “I want to see some more cards.” To beat them, no tricks are required. Simply by playing straight, most other players can

Loose Aggressive

The so-called “Maniac” of Poker is the Loose Aggressive player, who is willing to stay in almost every hand, betting, raising, and making a big deal out of every turn of the cards. All of the pushing that he/she does may annoy other players. That’s part of his/her strategy—to force others out of the pot. Watching a Maniac in action can be colourful and exciting, as they win or lose spectacularly.

Loose Aggressive players often do well against both Tight Passive and Loose Passive players because the intimidation tactics work. When facing a Maniac, a Tight Aggressive player must be willing to stay in on weaker hands and make him/her pay for such bullying behaviour. A sound thrashing may be the only way to slow the onslaught down. But when the table is short handed, no countermeasures may be successful. In ring games, cashing in may be the only option. In tournaments, one can only hope such players implode.

Published on: 13/12/2010

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