If you have signed up with MFortune of late and started to enjoy their great value Cash Table games then you will know that Poker is not an easy game to master. Many novices first experience of the game ends with them losing their initial bankroll relatively quickly and pondering how their opponents seemed to possess the knowledge to know when to take them on in a hand, and when to fold.
To a new Poker player, it can almost seem magical that a player knows how best to play you, but one of the most important skills you can learn is to recognise the specific types of player you are playing against and the traits that this type of player tends to display.
That’s because when you get good at recognising the types of player you are playing against at the tables, you can then devise a strategy which will highlight the weaknesses in that particular style and give you the edge at the table instead.
In this post, we are going to take a look at the four primary styles of play people adopt when playing poker, then we are going to explain the ways in which you can use the weaknesses of each to outplay this particular type of opponent.
Learning the skills to identify opponents however does take time and experience and you can only get this by playing at the tables, so head on to MFortune and see if you can recognise any of the traits displayed below and then develop a strategy to take advantage of how your opponent is playing, so that you can eventually get the better of them.
The Four Main Categories of Poker Player Types
You are likely to have encountered a Loose-Aggressive player quite quickly into your poker gaming experience. These are the players who seem to be playing every hand, who will raise hands regardless of whether they are in position at the table or not and they will frequently raise before the flop too. Their aim is to build pressure on opponents by playing aggressively so that opponents will fold what are potentially winning hands, simply due to the fact that the Loose-Aggressive player is playing in that manner.
The weaknesses of a Loose-Aggressive player are that they play far too many hands and that they have chips in the pot far more often than they ought to and of course, that means they have chips at risk more often. The positives are that by playing so aggressively, they can often pick up cheap pots when the hands they hold would normally not give them any chance of winning. A loose-aggressive player will bluff often, especially if their confidence has risen due to picking up some winning hands against more passive players.
Any poker player who has a modicum of skill is always on the lookout for a table with a Loose-Aggressive player because they are the easiest of all poker player types to get the better of. With these players it is simply a case of waiting your moment until you hit a strong hand and then under-playing that hand so that the Loose-Aggressive player walks into your trap.
For example, if you hold A-A against a Loose-Aggressive player you don’t want to send them the obvious signals and put a lot of chips in. Instead, make a smaller sized bet (or call if the bet has already been raised before the action gets to you) enough of a size that you think the Loose-Aggressive player will bite.
If they do bite and either call or raise, you can then re-raise if you wish, or call. In this situation, this player is now hoping that they get lucky on the Flop against you as at the moment, you hold the nuts and they are likely to be clutching at straws and trying to minimise their losses. The odds are usually strongly in your favour, even if the player flops a pair.
Many Loose-Aggressive players are beginner players trying to play a Tight-Aggressive style but getting it wrong by being too aggressive too often, playing too many hands and betting when they should be folding against stronger opponents.
This is arguably the weakest of all poker players and these types of players are often called “Donks” (short for Donkeys) or “Fish” by more experienced players. These players are sometimes known as Calling Stations as their primary tendency is to be over-cautious when betting and to call when they should really be folding (if they have a weak hand) or raising (if they have a strong hand). They will play too many hands and when they do play, their play is characterised by calling and small raises and often when a player makes a big raise or goes all in, they will fold even if they suspect they may hold the better cards.
In short, the only way that a Loose-Passive player is going to win hands is through luck and often, they don’t see this and think it is strong poker play. This is why many better players like to target these players to extract cash from as they cannot be lucky all the time.
A Loose-Passive players main weakness is that their lack of decisiveness makes it easy for other players to beat them and cow them into folding winning hands by representing stronger hands. They also somewhat telegraph their play at times so on the occasions when they do have stronger hands, they will bet in a way that exposes this so players can avoid losing big sums to them.
The way to get the better of Loose-Passive players is to use your position at the table to bully them into folding by betting strong when you feel they are your only threat to the pot and that they don’t have a particularly strong hand. Furthermore, if you play your stronger hands against them, you can underplay these hands to try and coax more money out of them as they call. Bluffing can also work well against a loose-passive player, especially if they have not represented a strong hand with their betting.
A Tight Passive player can enjoy a degree of success when playing on the Internet, especially against poorer loose players, but they will tend to struggle when they come up against better quality opponents and the reason for this is relatively easy to understand.
A player with a tight-passive style will only play the decent hands prior to the flop in most cases and as such, if they come into a pot, they are usually doing so from a position of relative strength. However, post-flop, their play is a little too passive and they often fail to protect their hands and their betting tendency is to check and call, rather than to make a raise or fold. This then gives players who may not have the strongest hands a chance to hit a card on the Turn or River which can give them the edge.
The main weakness of a Tight Passive player is that they tend to play in a formulaic way. If they bet on a hand, or make a rare raise, it is a solid indication that they hold a strong hand, so unless you hold the nuts, you can fold it and save your chips. This makes them easy to read and as you improve in your play, you will be able to get the better of this type of player.
Time and again, this player style has proven to be the most effective when it comes to winning at poker, especially against novice players. A tight-aggressive player will play the correct starting hands and will fold the hands that do not offer them a good chance of success. They will also be able to fold smaller bets if they feel an opponent holds the nuts and they have little chance of changing that situation by continuing in a hand.
However, if they are dealt a stronger hand and get to the Flop then their play will become more aggressive and they will tend to raise from a position of strength and that puts their opponents under pressure as unless they have a better hand, or are holding the nuts, then they are likely to be in a bad position.
Playing well against a Tight-Aggressive player and analysing their weaknesses is tough. That is why it is the preferred style to play in poker initially. However, a truly good player will use the strengths of all these styles to offer a rounded game so they cannot be easily pigeonholed.
As a poker player that should be your ultimate aim.