Like any game, poker attracts a whole different range of people hoping to win big and how they aim to get their hands on that pot can be very different. But then that’s true of any sport – there are players that like to take the slow and steady approach and others who enjoy the thrills and adrenaline of playing on the edge. And while it’s important to have an insight into what kind of player you are it’s even more important to be able to categorise your opponents and prepare your strategy for beating them.
At one end of the scale there’s the nervous novice while at the top of the food chain there’s the notorious poker shark but there are several other typical types too who can be defined by the “tightness” or “looseness” of their style as well as the level of aggression they display.
The tight passive
This kind of player is probably the least successful combination to be. That’s because an uptight attitude means that they are unwilling to take risks on anything but the very best hands and are never prepared to take the initiative for force the play. Their overall mindset is that they are playing not to lose, making them easy to bluff.
The loose passive
The second kind of player is maybe a bit more adventurous in the hands that they are prepared to play but, again, they’ll never really take the initiative to lead the action preferring to sit back and let their opponents call the shots. This relatively inert approach doesn’t, however, mean that the loose passive can’t be effectively milked in a game.
The tight aggressive
The tight aggressive player is probably the trickiest to play against. They keep themselves well in control of the action by only risking play on the very best hands. They’re in it for the long-term and are happy to bide their time till they can be sure that the odds are in their favour. And when they are, they strike.
The loose aggressive
The archetypal “loose cannon”, this kind of player will bet wildly on any hand, regardless of its strength so it’s all but impossible to predict what they’ll do next and their motivations for doing it. Having one or more of these kinds of players in a game can make it very hard for everyone – but if you go into it knowing they’re also big bluffers you’ll already have a head start.
Of course, there are far more nuances than these four basic categories of players and you’ll find many more detailed analyses online. You can even take an online quiz to see which category you fit into – and by analysing your own game it can only make you a better player and one which opponents will find it hard to figure out.