Identifying Opponents' Poker Playing Styles

Aside from hand and pot odds calculations and positioning, identifying the poker playing styles of our opponents is an important aspect of poker. This is true whether we're playing land based or online poker.

There are 4 basic kinds of poker playing styles: The Loose-Passive, Loose-Aggressive, the Tight-Passive, and the Tight-Aggressive. Which one is the best? Many say it's the Tight-Aggressive style. But some experts would say it's a lot safer and wiser to pick a style that fits a certain situation.

Note that each style has compound words separated by a dash - like "Loose-Passive." The first word is the play style and the second is the bet style. Loose play is one that plays a lot of hands, or playing multiple hands. It also means it has no focus and plays any hand. This is among the unstable poker playing styles.

A tight play is one that more meticulously selects hands to play. In most cases, a tight play is one that chooses only strong hands to play. If no strong hand is possible then the player simply folds. Poker play styles characterized by a tight play are said to often win.

However, poker playing styles are incomplete without a fitting bet style partner. An aggressive bettor is fond of betting or raising or re-raising. A passive bettor is fond of merely calling and seems timid to raise the pot. The general consensus is that tight playing is better off partnered with aggressive betting - and this completes an overall powerful poker playing style.

A loose-aggressive player is the best player to contend with. This player has weak hand plays but keeps on betting big. Any bet we place this player will raise, even if the player's hand is as weak as a 2-3 and the board has K-K-Q. We can easily profit from this player with other poker playing styles.

Loose passive players are weak in hand plays but they bet weakly as well. We can't hope to profit much from them because they would merely check or call our bets. Tight-passive players are worse. They'll give us a hard time for practically nothing. Beware of these poker playing styles.

But beware most of all of tight-aggressive players. They're hustlers in the game and are out to get our money. But once such players stick to their tight-aggressive play they eventually become easy prey to smarter players who see the poker tell and take advantage. Hence, the more poker playing styles we know and do, the better.