Types of Player: Part One

When you sit down at a poker table, or even before when you are watching and deciding whether to play in a game you should be watching the players a building up a mental dossier on each one of them.

Some of the information you can get is purely factual and is the type of thing that is also easy to pick up watching players on the internet: How many hands do they play? How often do they raise? What kind of hands do they turn over? Some information is more subtle or subjective: What kind of person are they? What mood are they in?
You can use the first type of information to quickly categorise the players into one of two main types. Are they a ‘tight’ player who bets infrequently and is statistically more likely to have a good hand when they play, or are they a ‘loose’ player who frequently enters pots. Of course many players fall somewhere in between and it is important to realise that someone may alter their pattern of play for many reasons. It is neither a good nor a bad thing per se to be either type of player. You need to study your opponents closely so that you can distinguish within these broad categories and recognise various types of player and play them accordingly. Players operate at different ‘levels’ it is important to recognise your players level and play them accordingly.

As well as recognising the individual players you need to be able to understand the overall mix of the table, the dynamics of the game, the ‘history’ between the various players. (History can mean something from weeks or years ago but more often we mean what has been happening on this table right now).

So what are the types of player we will be talking about? We have divided players into Tight; Loose and In-between and have defined types within those three broad categories: This month we will start by talking about the two main types of tight player.

Tight Players

A tight player may be a very strong player who selects their hands and situations carefully and waits patiently for opportunities. This player may be very aggressive at times; they are capable of bluffing and are likely to get away with these moves because of their ‘table image’ as a tight player.

A player may be making very few moves and playing few hands because he is over-cautious. He may be playing in a game which is too big for him and is ‘scared money’. He may be simply waiting for situations where he has the best possible hand and hoping to get paid off. This may be a winning strategy against weak loose players, but if you can correctly identify a player as weak/tight you have found your perfect opponent. He is the easiest to read and to manipulate.

Strong-tight players are likely to be more decisive and confident, quieter and more focused than weak-tight players. Their hand frequency may be similar but their betting within individual hands will show a greater degree of commitment to the hands they actually play.

There are six main types of loose player. (There are a lot more ways to play hands than to NOT play hands!) Next month we will tell you about all of them.