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Different Poker playing styles

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Estilo en el poker

You may already know that there are certain combinations of words that are used to describe the way in which a player plays at a poker table.

These are the characteristic playing styles used with poker players:

  • Tight- aggressive (TAG)
  • Loose-aggressive (LAG)
  • Tight-passive
  • Loose tight-passive

But what exactly is to be selective, very selective, aggressive or passive in poker Texas Hold'em? And which style is the best?

Poker styles explanation

The first word in the sentence: tight and loose

We use the first word in the name of each playing style to describe how many hands a player tends to play, which makes him "tight" or "loose".

  • A tight player tends to play few hands and he usually only plays premium hands, that is hands with good winning chances.
  • A loose player tends to play a broad range of hands and enter into numerous pots both when he holds a strong starting hand and also with some weaker.

The more hands a player enters in a pot, more "less selective" (loose player) will be.

The second word in the name: aggressive and passive

We use the second word in the name of each playing style to describe how poker players bet on each betting round, and are divided into "aggressive" and "passive".

  • An aggressive player tends to bet often or raise and provides plenty of action making strong bets.
  • A passive player will tend more to check and call and usually won't bet or raise a rival's bet.

If you combine these last two sections with the two descriptions in each one, you get 4 playing styles. With these styles you can describe how many hands a player plays and how they play them taking into account the way in which they bet or check.

When it comes to strategy, this information can be really helpful since if you bluff against a player who is Loose-Passive and plays many hands and usually calls you will not get as much benefit as when you bluff against a player who is Tight-Aggressive and usually plays just good hands and bets or raises with strong hands only.

Playing style chart

The following chart shows how you can combine each of the various attributes (loose, tight, passive and aggressive):

  Passive (Tight) Aggressive (Loose)
Aggressive Tricky Maniac
Passive Rock (solid) Calling Station

Which of these 4 playing styles is the best?

In order to play good poker you have to be able to play in an aggressive way, as we mentioned in the article about the importance of being aggressive. As a result, the best play style is a combination between playing on a tight- aggressive way or a loose-aggressive way.

Playing aggressively is always better than playing in a passive way. There is no doubt about it.

Many winning players will state that the tight- aggressive play is the best, because you always get into the pots with very good hands and you play hard to maximize your profits. This is very true, and often is the style of game that many players in development aim to use correctly.

However, you play in the loose-aggressive style and still win as much or even more money than with the tight aggressive style, although this is difficult to achieve.

Being a loose-aggressive player can lead you to win big, though it can also be dangerous if you are not sure of what you are doing.

If you play in a very tight-aggressive way that means that you are seeing a lot of flops and putting money in the pot when most of the time you are not totally sure about how good your hand is. So it is not advisable that the beginners try this style.

However, the rewards can be high, because your rivals frequently compensate it when you have monster hands because they do not believe you because of the way you've been playing so far.

Passive poker is never cost-effective

In general, you will not get much profit from the passive playing style, and so betting and raising on a regular basis is more advisable than checking and calling. When you play passively you're eliminating one of your chances to win a hand, which makes it unprofitable.

You can win by holding the best poker hold'em hand or by betting to scare your opponent out of the pot. Playing in a passive way you just win only when you have the best hand.

For players who are learning the game it is advisable to try to adopt a tight-aggressive style, because it is profitable and safe. Once you have enough experience, you can try the loose-aggressive style just to see how it works.

Experienced players use the loose-aggressive style to get into a lot of hands and pots, so they don't need to wait for premium hands to get some action. At the beginning, however, you should stick to the tight-aggressive style since it's safer and to avoid the complexity of a poker style you are not familiar with.

Playing styles evaluation

In general, you should choose the playing style that allows you to win more money. If you find the tight-aggressive style suits you better than any other style, then you should stick to it.

Also, if you play for fun and enjoy playing passively instead of aggressively, perfect. You should be comfortable with the way you play. Remember, however, that if you want to win as much money as possible, you have to use the aggressive style rather than the passive.

This is a ranking of playing styles according to how much money you can potentially make with them:

  • Tight-aggressive
  • Loose-aggressive
  • Tight-passive
  • Loose-passive

The first two are interchangeable because players can win money with both of them. The Tight-Aggressive style works better for beginners and the Loose-Aggressive style should only be used by experienced players.

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