The 4 Basic Poker Playing Styles
Poker is a game of mathematical, “probability,” and observational skills rather than luck. While luck may have some influence on your winning rate in the short term, pros have become pros after years of honing their skills and developing the “right” personality and playing styles.
Poker players can be broken down into four basic categories based on their playing style: passive vs. aggressive and tight vs. loose. Oftentimes, people have style combinations that follow these patterns:
By knowing these categories and common playing style combinations, you can define your opponents and use your knowledge of their style to beat them or at least increase your winning rate.
Players with this combo personality often limp into a handful of pots, calling raises for the sake of seeing a flop and staying in hand on almost every occasion. Simply put, they prefer others to take the risk and seldom take their chances.
While beginners often have this combo personality, some people who have already played poker for a long time still resort to this approach in which they mainly do the calling, especially in low buy-in games.
You’re not going to bluff loose-passive players unlike tight-passive players, but at least they are very easy to spot. And once you do, you can take advantage of them every time you get a fairly strong hand.
In general, tight passive players often just call preflop when they have a hand they like and don’t play many pots compared to others. As the name suggests, their playing style is notably tight that other opponents just fold. As a result, they are not very good at taking advantage of having a good hand.
Additionally, these players have an inherent fear of losing, so they won’t take shots, making it easy for you to bluff them especially when they see Ace and other scary board cards.
Players with this combination style often bet on most flops and raise or re-raise a wide range of hands preflop; this makes them hard to read since they play a broad range of hands.
A healthy dose of this combo playing style can make you a skilled player, especially in no-limit hold’em where you can apply pressure against your opponents and use your chips against them. And because you have the aptitude of using bluff correctly, this will also make it hard for others to play against you.
But on the other end of the spectrum, being too loose aggressive–meaning you raise just for the sake of raising–can turn you into a perfect milking cow for your opponents, at least in the long run.
Players who fall into this playing style category are very selective to the point that they only play the best starting hands, which means they don’t play many spots. And unlike the tight-passive players, they are not afraid of betting and will strike when their cards are fairly strong.
Skilled tight-aggressive players are often referred to as “sharks” because of their highly effective style regardless of the betting structure and game variations. For this reason, you don’t want to fight against this type of player who has a propensity to think that they have the strongest hand and thus will fold under pressure.
Take note that not everyone fits this poker playing style perfectly and some people change their style depending on their mood. Nevertheless, observing other players’ propensity can help you with this game of mathematical probability.
In addition, the right amount of aggression can help you increase your winning, especially with hold’em. In fact, eliminating aggression altogether is a flawed strategy because poker is all about taking educated risks.