While each poker player has their own unique playing and decision making style, there are basically only four main categories of players. Each of these styles has strengths and weaknesses, and each of these styles can be profitable in the correct situation. Your goal as a player is to not be labeled as any one of the categories explained below, but instead to adjust your playing style to fit the opponents at the table.
Each style is based on two attributes:
- If the player is tight (plays very few hands) or loose (plays a lot of hands);
- If the player is aggressive (raises and bluffs) or passive (calls other players bets).
In an online poker environment this is the weakest category. These players are constantly raising before and after the flop. Their strategy often works against poor players and will win a lot of small pots, but online, these players will go broke quickly. I can tell you from experience that Loose-Aggressive players attract sharks. The sharks are fine with letting these players have 10 small pots; they are after the three large pots which will eventually break this player. The only way this strategy works is for the player to wander from one table to another approximately every 50 hands. Otherwise, they will be found and eliminated.
In my opinion this is another weak category. These players can only make money in a game with a lot of wild players and generally have to depend on luck to have a successful poker session. They typically will simply call the bets of the other players disregarding the Pot Odds or strength of their hand. These players will lose very slowly, often being able to stay in against the other players, but unable to beat the house rake. I was this type of player as a beginner thinking that any two cards could win, so why not play them. This type of play is profitable against Loose-Aggressive players who will typically try to bluff at a terrible flop when the Loose-Passive player gets lucky with two bad cards in the hole. There really is no strategy this type of player can use to win in the long run since they are never in control of the betting.
These players can win money simply because there are so many bad players in the online poker rooms. The biggest weakness of a Tight-Passive player is that they are so easy to figure out. You never have to worry about a bluff from them. If this type of player has a decent hand or a lot of outs, he or she will call your bet or make a small bet. If not, they will fold. This player can win money against any loose player as long as the loose player is not bright enough to notice how many hands the Tight-Passive player is staying in with. I turn into this type of player when I am on the verge of going on tilt, but I do so on purpose to get my mind back in the game.
This style can be very successful for online play and if I fit into one category, this would be it. These players will only see a flop with a decent hand and will then take a shot at the pot after the flop with a bet. In general these players are hard for passive players to beat. This style is vulnerable to a Loose poker style though. It is difficult to bluff a loose player as it is and without having any idea what a loose player has, a bad flop can result in a large loss. These players need to be careful not to let other players tag them as bluffers. Typically, an average player will notice how many hands are played by other players and not necessarily how often a player bets at the pot. Once the other players notice the constant bluffing, they will not drop out of the pot quickly.
I am sure you can see after reading the definitions how important it is to change your style to fit the other players at the table. For instance, if the other player in the pot is a Tight-Passive player you should bluff to see if he or she folds. If another player in the pot with you is Loose-Aggressive, you can slow-play a good hand and let them bet for you. Using a combination of styles to fit the situation is what separates the good players from the bad. Know your opponents and bet accordingly.
If you are like me you may come to the tables on some nights and have a different style than you are used to playing. When this happens it is hard to change and I usually just walk away from the computer. Emotions will often govern your playing style and it is hard to turn emotions on and off. It is better to simply not play than to play badly.