Playing styles in poker

T9 spades"Playing the player" … what does it mean? It means that poker is a complex game and if you want to play in a sophisticated way you can’t be too simplistic in your approach. To learn how to "play the player" you must have some knowledge about different playing styles.

It’s time to present to you the four common categories of players. Here they are:

1. Tight-passive
2. Loose-passive
3. Loose-aggressive
4. Tight-aggressive

This is an appropriate way to list the different types of players you will meet in your games, all players belongs in one way or another to these categories.


Let’s begin with the first, the tight-passive player. This playing style is on the top of the list, but hardly the biggest challenge for you to meet. Likely the opposite, since this player lets you be in charge, if you are doing your job. And your job is to be aggressive and often bluff since you easily can steal pots from this cautious player who often folds then you bet. Consequently: when this player finally bets it’s reasonable to think that he has a strong hand and you should in most cases quickly fold.


Neither the second type, the loose-passive player should be a big treat for you. But, against this player, bluffing is for no great use – he will just call you. Therefore, you must show patience until you get a strong hand. And when you get it, bet to build a pot, the loose-passive player will often call your bets, and there’s no easier way to be profitable.


So far, none of the playing types will play mind games with you. The third type, however, is more problematic. The loose-aggressive player is like the rebel who doesn’t follow the rules. He doesn’t seem to bother with odds, and he plays almost every hand as it was a “monster”.

You have two choices against this player. One method is to try to put him over the edge straight away. This is very tempting, but then you’re playing in his arena. If you want to be a regular winner, you have to cut him out in a more surgical manner. This demands patience, but when you get the hand you have been waiting for – it doesn’t have to be a full house, but it’s got to be something more than the top pair with a low kicker – you just let him do his usual raises and after the last card you finally give him the deadly blow. Accept losing small pots to the loose-aggressive player and wait for the big ones you are going to win.


The last type, the tight-aggressive player, is probably the style you want to take upon in some shape. This approach to the game results in a well-balance game and will give profit in the long run. To accomplish it you must choose the right starting hands to play and then make efficient decisions that affect the actions on the board to your advantage.

The tight-aggressive player is not playing hands by curiosity; he is selective about his proceedings, but also resolute with hands that he likes. He often folds pre flop or directly after the flop. When he continues in a hand he strives for information that he gets not by check/call but to bet/raise.

When you meet this player your mission is to learn him faster than he learns you. It’s also a good idea to partly avoid him and instead focus on the weaker players on the table. Knowing how to play the player includes knowing which players to play, or not to play. In poker, you want the money, not taking scalps.

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