Tailor your poker strategy to your personality to win more

  • Identify whether you are tight or loose, passive or aggressive
  • Once you know these traits you can identify them in others

Poker is a game played with cards against people. It’s a statement that seems so obvious you wouldn’t think it needs saying, but many new players get so caught up in the cards they forget the human element.

So it is worth repeating: Poker is played against people. In order to understand how to play the game and not just the cards in your hand, it is important to spend some time reflecting on just what kind of player you are.

Understanding your game will give you greater insight into how your opponents view you and will help you begin to develop strategies to best them.

Tight or loose?

Poker player going all in
Are you the sort of player who is likely to go all in?

Determining whether you are a tight or a loose poker player is fairly simple and all depends on the types of hands you are willing to play. If you are very selective with your playing hands you are deemed to be a tight player.

A tight player will only play the very best hands, and will not go in with a single high value card and little else. For example, a tight player would probably not go in with a starting hand of A3 or K4 whereas a loose player would bet.

If you’re the type of player who likes to bet on the flop just to see what comes out then you can class yourself as a loose player. If you very rarely play a hand, you’re tight.

Passive or aggressive?

Now that you’ve identified whether you are tight or loose you can start to think about whether you are a passive or aggressive player.

Examining your play, do you find yourself calling and checking a lot once you are in a hand? Do you play to stay in the hand and find yourself raising rarely?

You can place yourself as a passive player. If you tend to bet and raise more often than not then put yourself down as aggressive.

Completing the puzzle

Now you should know with a good deal of certainty whether you are tight or loose and passive or aggressive, let’s look at the four main types of poker players.

  • Tight Passive
  • Loose Passive
  • Tight Aggressive
  • Loose Aggressive
  • Tight passive

    Sometimes referred to as the ‘rock’ or the ‘nit’, tight passive players rarely play hands and when they do, other players will often fold. When tight passive players win a pot they tend to be small. Tight passive players tend to have a fear of losing so aggressive players can often muscle them out of the game.

    Loose passive

    Poker player folds
    Are you the sort of player who throws the cards in easily?

    Loose passive players play many hands but with little aggression.

    Loose passives limp into pots with relatively poor hands and hope for the best with the flop, turn or river card.

    For this reason they often call on bets as they are waiting for a card to miraculously save their junk hand.

    Tight aggressive (TAG)

    Tight aggressive players are selective in the hands they play and are aggressive when they do.

    Many players avoid tangling with tight aggressive players as they assume the tight aggressive has something of value when they play.

    Tight aggressive players are often labelled as sharks as the tight aggressive is a very successful playing style.

    Loose aggressive (LAG)

    Loose aggressive players are very difficult to play against. They play a wide variety of hands and use their chips to muscle other players out of the game.

    They bluff more regularly than the other types and you may see these types go all in more regularly as well. The most extreme loose aggressive players are called maniacs.

    They make for dangerous (but often very profitable for you) opponents.

    In practice

    Now that you understand what type of poker player you are, see if you can start to identify these traits in other players as well.

    It could be the case that some players exhibit traits from more than one of these types at different stages of the game, but habits are hard to break.

    Most players return to type eventually. Remember, poker is a game of cards played against people. Now you’ve got to know yourself a little better, get to your nearest poker table and get to know your enemy.

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