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Updated: July 8, 2023

Different Types of Poker Playing Styles & Poker Personality

A player is known by how he selects his poker hands, which cards he folds, and which he/she calls or raises – that’s the primary difference between an amateur poker player and a professional.

The starting hands and the betting patterns of a player usually define the type of playing style of a poker player.
Starting hands: Does the opponent play tight (few hands) or loose (many hands)?
Betting pattern: Does the opponent bet aggressive (frequently) or passive (rarely)?
So, two factors define the general playing styles – i) Tight vs. Loose and ii) Passive vs. Aggressive.

Starting Hands

  • Tight poker players usually play a small number of only the best hands (AA, KK, AK). Also, a tight poker player generally plays less than 15% of the starting hands (55 + A7S +, A5s, A9o +, K9s +, KJo +, QJs)
  • Loose poker players usually play a wide variety of hands (A3, T9, 75o). Also, a loose poker player generally plays the top 40% of the starting hands (33 +, A2 +, K2S +, K5o +, Q5s +, Q8o +, J7s +, J9o +, T8s)

As someone rightly put it, “Being tight or lose doesn’t necessarily refer to how somebody plays their hand, but merely the selection of hands that they play.”

Betting Patterns

The betting pattern is the relationship between betting and raising to calling. Also, you have to take into consideration the risk tolerance factor, as well.

  • If an opponent bets or raises twice as often as he calls, he is known to be playing aggressively. Aggressive poker players raise more than call and are not afraid to put chips at risk.
  • If an opponent calls more often than he bets or raises, he is known to be playing passively. Passive poker players tend to avoid confrontation and play with a fear of losing.

So, a player can play in four different possible combinations. Here are the 4 basic types of playing styles in poker, which can be displayed in a 2Ă—2 matrix-

  • Tight-Passive: The Rock
  • Tight-Aggressive: The TAG
  • Loose-Passive: The Calling Station
  • Loose-Aggressive: The LAG

Loose Passive (Calling Station)

Loose Aggressive (LAG)

Tight Passive (Rock)

Tight Aggressive (TAG)

1. Loose-Passive: The Calling Station

  • Play passively (makes few bets, but more calls)
  • Plays a lot of hands (greater than 25-40%)
  • Minimal share of winning players

Strategy: Playing against a Calling Station (Loose-Passive Players)-

  • Bet with good hands only.
  • Do not try to bluff a Calling Station as they will end up calling/raising you anyway
  • Make higher than usual pre-flop raises from a late position if they are sitting in the blinds
  • Don’t play medium-strength hands, fold and live to win another day

Even though not impossible, it is highly impractical to play in a loose-passive style and make a profit in online poker. The result is almost always the same – the calling station gets bust.

2. Tight-Passive: The Rock

  • Play passively (makes few bets, but more calls)
  • Plays a few hands (less than 15-20%)
  • Minimal share of winning players

Strategy: Playing against a Rock (Tight-Passive Players)-

  • Go for the player’s blinds with a 3BB raise from a late position
  • Play the very best starting hands, don’t raise with weak hole cards
  • Since such players rarely bet, check instead of calling on the flop to see the next board card without staking more money.

A tight-passive player can significantly reduce his/her losses as they refrain from calling often. But, by playing this way, a player cannot get maximum profits in his/her good hands.

3. Loose-Aggressive: The LAG

  • Plays aggressively (makes many bets, but few calls)
  • Plays a lot of hands (greater than 25-40%)
  • The average share of winning players – high winnings, high losses

Strategy: Playing against a LAG (Loose-Aggressive Players)-

  • Play more hands than usual against a LAG
  • Raise with strong hands on the flop against a LAG, if he/she bets before the flop
  • Wait for the LAG to raise his bets when he/she is sitting in a later position than you

The LAG style of play is most used by professionals while playing poker tournaments. It is important to note that LAG is a high-risk strategy play and should not be played by just about anyone.

4. Tight-Aggressive: The TAG

  • Plays aggressively (makes many bets, but few calls)
  • Plays a few hands (less than 15-20%)
  • The high share of winning players

Strategy: Playing against a TAG (tight-aggressive Players)-

  • You can steal a TAG player’s blinds if you are sitting in a late position
  • On pre-flop raises, play only with the very best of hands
  • Re-raise only with the strongest cards (AA, KK, QQ, etc.)

Since TAG players bet with only the best hands, they have the highest chance to win the pot when they do play a hand. Most poker pundits agree that the tight-aggressive strategy (TAG) in poker is the most profitable one. There are also two other types of poker players who have the following playing styles-

The Nit: almost always folds the very few (<15%) starting hands he/she plays. Many Rocks and some TAGs are Nits. Nits only call or bet if they have a very strong hand

The Maniac: plays very loosely and very aggressive player. Don’t go on tilt if the maniac wins with weak cards. But, in the end, the maniac will always go bust.

It’s only by knowing how to master the basics do you become a poker player who is taken very seriously by his/her opponents.

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