Types of Player: Part Two

Last month we told you about tight players. This month we are giving you some pointers about the different types of loose players. There are a lot more ways to play than to pass and we have identified five main categories of loose players:

A bully typically plays the player/chip stack as much as he plays his own hand. He looks for signs of weakness. Look for over-bets that force opponents to commit early if they are going to play. He may well (but not necessarily) talk or act in an intimidating way but you may be able to recognise a seemingly meek personality who’s betting patterns are that of a bully. Some times it is good to ‘take a stand’ against a bully and let then know you are on to them and they can find easier pickings elsewhere. Some times it is a good idea to ‘play possum’ and trap them with a big hand. As is often the case position is crucial in how you clash with this player. Remember: Don’t make it personal. There are other players in the game.

Calling station
A ‘Calling Station’ plays poker in almost exactly the opposite way to which it should normally be played. He very rarely takes the initiative in a pot. His initial hand selection is not nearly discerning enough which means he often finds himself with the worst of it. He will chase down draws but is unlikely to ‘semi-bluff’ with them. He will attempt easily readable bluffs on the end when his draws have missed and will call on the end with half a hand simply in the hope that it may be winning rather than from any clear understanding of the situation. It is easy to see that it is best to play a very straightforward game against this player. Simply bet your strong hands and let him call you. Find the level of bet that he will play. Don’t bluff if you think he has any part of it on the end, only if you judge that he has missed a draw but may still be winning with ‘high card’. This is the proverbial ‘mug you can’t bluff’.

Whist many poker players concentrate on not putting their chips at risk the Gambler may actively seek situations where there is a possibility of winning or losing big. These players are often hard to read and harder to make pass. You need to make sure that when they gamble with you, you have the best of it. Don’t be drawn into playing them at their own game. In identifying a Gambler look at how readily they are prepared to commit themselves before the flop, particularly if they choose to enter muti-way raised pots with hands like low-suited connectors or suited aces.

The Gambler has a lot in common with the bully.

It can be quite easy to tell when someone is losing and has started to play more hands in an attempt to recover their loses. This is particularly likely after a ‘bad beat’ and players will sometimes even try to target the player who put the ‘bad beat’ on them. A chaser is often an ‘angry better’ or appears very pessimistic. Incidentally, being able to get up when you are losing (and recognising when you are playing badly because of it or that you are losing because the game is too tough for you) is one of the hardest things for poker players to be able to do and one of the most important disciplines to learn if you are to become a winning player.
A player who is chasing is very likely to pay you off, but remember: They can also get a good hand and you must keenly observe the tells that will indicate whether they are putting in their money with confidence or resignation. Don’t enter too many pots because you are in too much of a hurry to ‘get it while it’s going’. Over time you will get your share.

Social player
Unlike a chaser, this player is relatively unaffected by whether they are winning or losing. They see poker as a recreation and enjoy the company and attention as well as winning. They may well drink at the table; they are almost certainly very chatty and relatively unobservant. Often they enter pots for the simple reason that it’s more fun to be in than out. They will ‘limp in’ a lot and you can raise with a lot of starting hands in order to make them pass or isolate them in a pot. (As always, position is vital here). As with other types of player, don’t only watch them, watch how others are playing them and you may find opportunities to trap the player who is trapping them.

Next month we will complete this series by describing the most tricky and unreadable types of players: Those who are neither tight or loose but somewhere in-between.