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Player Types

In poker, as in life, you will encounter many different types of people at the table. Identifying these types and adjusting to them is critical if you want to become a successful hold'em player. Below are some of the contrasting types of players.

(For more information regarding player types and why people play the way they do, pick up Alan Schoonmaker's book The Psychology of Poker)

Tight or Loose
Tighter Play
Pros Cons
  • Better card quality
  • Minimal losses
  • Predictable
  • Not much action
Tight - A tight player plays only the best hands and plays them fast since he or she doesn't get to play very often. Tight players play only a few hands and usually win the pots they're in at the showdown, however since they get identified as tight players, most players won't stay in a hand with them, so their pots are rarely large.

Looser Play
Pros Cons
  • More play/action
  • Unpredictable
  • Large bankroll swings
  • Increased losses
Loose - A loose player plays many hands, both strong and weak. They believe that “any two cards can win” and often sees the flop with hands that are below par. Loose players are considered to be more "gambler-like" as they are hoping that the turn and river will bring them their magic card that will help them win the pot. Loose players may know how to play the game, but can't stand not being in a hand in case their miracle card hits on the river.

Aggressive or Passive
Aggressive Play
Pros Cons
  • Intimidates other players
  • Cause people to fold
  • Large Bankroll swings
  • Requires skill to be successful
Aggressive - An aggressive player loves to bet and raise, often pre-flop or with a “less than the nut” hand, although some players become aggressive when they get the best hand (correctly). He or she likes to cause the action and get the bets rolling.

Passive Play
Pros Cons
  • Gets to play many hands
  • Large losses
Passive - A passive player prefers to “just call” rather than bet or raise. Many times a passive player will have a good hand, but still simply call because they don't want to stir things up. They will be in the hand as long as they are comfortable and may drop their hand after the river card, since the hand they were looking for never materialized.

Strong or Weak
Strong Play
Pros Cons
  • Plays controlled game
  • Always competitive
  • Predictable
  • Needs aggressiveness
Strong - A strong player has knowledge of the game and will make the right calls at the right times and will consistently showdown quality starting cards based on the play at the table.

Weak Play
Pros Cons
  • More fun
  • Large losses
Weak - A weak player only focuses on his/her own hand, has little knowledge of hold'em strategies and will frequently showdown cards that are of poor quality.

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