There are several different poker playing styles that people seem to instinctively fall into. Your opponent’s style should affect your decision making in the game. So, the trick is to learn as many styles as possible to recognise who you are up against at the table. This article will deal with the main two categories that define a player’s style in the game.
The first way to define a player is as either loose or tight. If they play loose poker it means that they play a lot of hands, if they play tight poker it means that they call with very few hands. The other category is of passive or aggressive poker. Aggressive players will consistently raise while passive players are more likely to call.
When looking at your own style of play and that of your opponents, ask yourself first, are they calling a lot of hands? Then look at their betting style and ask if they are throwing a lot of money into the pot. When you answer these questions you can label a player according to these two categories.
For example, a player can be considered loose aggressive if they not only play a lot of hands but are also willing to throw a lot of money to the table in bets. Tight aggressive poker players play relatively few hands, but tend to raise a lot when they do.
The way to win at the game is not to master one or more of these playing styles but to recognise them in others. When you can do this then you can start to play, not according to the cards that are on the table in front of you or in your hand, but according to your ‘read’ of the opposition before you. For example, when you have identified a loose aggressive poker player you can identify a bluff much more easily, it then follows that when the bluff is identified you can make a more confident call or raise to take down a large pot.
Similarly identifying the really good players at the table is also really important. The best way to spot someone better than you at the table is when you realise that the turn card has come and that there is a player who is still in the hand with you and you can’t understand why. An aggressive poker player would have raised in a bluff to push you out. This is the point at which you need to reconsider the strength of your hand and perhaps check and more than likely fold.