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Poker Guide Part 4: Understanding Poker Player Styles

Have you read the whole of the guide? If not, you’re honestly only cheating yourself! Get back to the start!

Beat the player, not the cards!

When it boils down to it, most players know when they’ve got a good hand and when they’ve got a bad hand.

Someone holding a pair of aces will, as a general rule, push forward to try and take you for what you’re worth. Someone with a royal flush will slap down their house keys, car keys and even their children just to stay in the hand. Spotting a good hand and playing aggressively with it is, well, just simple logic.

But what about those situations where you have a decent hand, but you’re not sure about your opponents hand?

Well, there’s a very specific way to play!

Say, for example, you were one card off a straight after the turn card and there are three others in the action.

  • Do you play aggressively, or do you hold you horses?
  • How will your opponents play?
  • Do you know how your opponents play?

That’s it – if only you knew how your opponent played, you could take advantage of their pitfalls.

This is the key to great poker play – knowing the player!

In this section of the guide we’re going to take a look at the four most popular player styles you’ll encounter when playing  online poker. We’re going to go into detail about their weaknesses and how to take advantage.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Aggressive/Passive & Tight/Loose

When we describe poker players we use certain phrases and terms. These are used so we can sum players up quickly and efficiently, which is handy for fast paced games.

The first selection phrases we use describe how often a player bets during any situation:

When a player bets often they are called loose; when a player rarely bets, they are called tight. There really isn’t an in-between, as players generally deviate between the two. If you’re a loose player you will generally be in the action more than a tight person, who is more careful with their cards.

The second selection of phrases we use describe how forceful a player is with their hand against other players:

When a player folds easily against an opponents raise, they are known as a passive player. If a player often stands their ground, or raises with their cards then they are known as an aggressive player.

We use four combinations to describe the most common types of player, and you’ll often hear them at tournaments, during poker commentary and on poker forums.

They different types of poker player are:

Tight-Aggressive
Tight-Passive
Loose-Aggressive
Loose-Passive

We’re going to go into detail about the styles you should adopt, and breeze over the other sections because there’s really no use in wasting your time.

Before you read ahead though, what type of player are you?

Tight-Aggressive Poker Player

When it comes to the ultimate playing style in Texas Hold’em the tight-aggressive player honestly takes the biscuit.

Coral Poker stand firms on the opinion that you should adopt this style without question. Sure, there are a few deviations from this rule, but honestly, grasp the basics and stick to your guns!

Did you know that there are 169 different starting hands in Texas Hold’em poker, but the very best players in poker will only play with a certain few?

Say, for example you were dealt 7-2 unsuited. You have two low cards in hand and you’ll now need 4 cards to create a low straight; even if you manage to match a pair, there’s a good chance it’ll probably be beaten by a higher pair. More often than not you’ll end up losing with such a poor hand, so fold it – it’s not difficult. Same goes for any low-card unsuited hand, or even higher unsuited hands such as J-6.

Tight-Aggressive players wouldn’t give 7-2, or many other starting hands a look-in for that matter. Instead, they’ll wait for pocket pairs or suited A-K, A-Q, A-J, K-Q, K-J and potentially Q-J. They won’t just go in with these cards though, they’ll play aggressively with them, making sure to increase the pot value to justify their play. A player who waits to go in with a good hand and folds at the first sign of resistance is a tight-passive player, and is especially vulnerable to good players who play aggressively. All good poker players bet frequently (with good hands), calls rarely and bet consistently, never changing your style so people can’t read you. The ideal situation would be bringing players through to the end for them just to fold, leaving you will all their money!

Tight-aggressive is the only way you should play! The stuff below is for your information only! Don’t think we’re advocating any other playing style, because we’re not!

Basically, play aggressive when you’ve got a great hand and the money will come flying in!

Tight-Passive Poker Player

Tight-passive poker players do all the same as the above, but unfortunately don’t follow through with their intentions. They are known for playing with great starting hands, but at the first sign of resistance – generally a steady raise – they will fold without question. Tight-passive players generally last a while in tournaments, as they often don’t bet much, but in the end they generally lose out because they haven’t built up a stack, losing their money to tight-aggressive players.

You can tell tight-passive players through their hesitancy to raise, and their tendency to replicate the bets of their opponent as a means making it to the showdown. The best way to handle these players is to raise them out of the game, or fold if they call your raise as they’ve probably got something amazing.

Loose-Aggressive Poker Player

These guys are completely and utterly insane, and bet without any structure or order. They are basically the anarchists of the poker world and should be dealt with caution.

Has your opponent gone all in during the first hand of the tournament? Have they won with a 6-2? If they have then they’re probably loose-aggressive, which is great for you because you can catch them out with a pocket pair, or a disguised flush. Basically, if they’re betting manically, hold your own and take them to the cleaners when you’ve got a great hand.

Loose-Passive Player

Loose-passive players often play with anything and everything, and then fold with no resistance whatsoever. They are the weakest players in poker and are often taken advantage of by tight-aggressive players. They just wait for the flop and if they’ve hit nothing will instantly fold.

Basically, if you’re being careful with what you bet with, but end up folding at every opportunity, this is you and you really need to stop!

Just to be clear, we recommend that you don’t play as the above player styles! Tight-aggressive is the way to go! Don’t forget that!

Aaaaaand, that’s everything you need to know!

> Next: Part 5 – The Art of Bluffing!