It's a big, beautiful world out there brimful of a big, beautiful spectrum of poker players. While every player has his or her own distinct way to play, there are a few key poker playing styles – and it’s important to know about them so you can learn to predict the actions of your opponents. After all, a little psychology can go a long way when it comes to snagging a hefty pot.
Poker Playing Styles:
TAG - Tight Aggressive
We've got two pretty strong adjectives here and they combine to describe the most taciturn and succinct of poker playing styles. A tight player is someone who plays precious few hands and, even then, only plays solid hands that have an above average chance of winning. An aggressive player is someone who generally drives action with powerful betting or raising.
LAG - Loose Aggressive
A person who is a loose player will jump in the action with any number of hands, ranging from strong starting hands to a few less desirable ones. While LAG players may be more inclined to get in the game on less solid footing, they make up for their lack of discretion with strong, aggressive betting behaviour.
TP- Tight Passive
People who exhibit passive playing poker styles don't often put themselves out on a limb when it comes to leading the action. They will most often just ebb and flow along with the current of any given hand, rarely raising or out betting an opponent. These players prefer to call and check when possible. When you are passive and tight, you are really not going to see much action. Even a solid hand may not spur you into action and it is probably going to be a very, very long night for you. (Not to mention your opponents; tight passive players can hang around in a game simply because they aren’t making any moves. More often than not, this will infuriate the hell out of more fiery and fierce competition.)
LP – Loose Passive
Also known as ‘calling stations’, loose passive players will play a ton of hands and call often. LP players can get lucky, but don’t come out ahead in the long run. You can’t let the game carry you along – you’ve got to actually play.
Poker playing styles matter
It's good to know who you are up against and knowing the poker playing styles of your competition will give you this leading edge. Identifying the poker playing styles of your opponents is particularly useful when you're thinking about strategy. You can probably bluff a passive player - particularly a loose passive player - but you will have a hell of a tough time bluffing out tight aggressive competition.
Your best bet?
Out of all the poker playing styles, you're going to see the best results if you can keep your playing aggressive. This is the general consensus. By being aggressive, you are taking control of the game and investing a degree of ownership over its outcome; the way you act can impact the game's outcome - and when it comes to a game like poker with a 'dumb luck' factor, taking and owning ANY amount of control is crucial for long term, profitable success.
Next, it's up to you to decide whether you play better tight or loose. For the most part, tight play yields better results and is recommended for serious beginners. This said, loose play can work too, but generally, not for newbies who don't have a handle on the complexities of the game. For experienced players though, loose aggressive playing can allow them to get in on a lot of pots that are missed by their tighter counterparts. Good LAG players are experts at manoeuvring and will often take pots with weak holdings.
Finally, let's look into passive playing. If you are just playing for fun or are a beginner trying to get a feel for the game, passive play has its merits. It can be good learning tool and it is safer. This said, if you are looking to actually win, playing passive will totally negate one of the main ways you can snag the pot: namely, you will never out bet an opponent to win. Beginners can learn just as much by adopting a TAG style of play, though they might not stay in the game as long as a passive player at first. A few hard knocks WILL, however, ultimately help them develop their skills, learn more and become a better player. The end result? More wins and a longer, happier life at the tables. Doesn't get much better than that!