Know Your Opponent: Poker Labels

If you’ve moved on from casual online poker games, or nights with your friend round the baize, it’s probably time to start learning how to appraise your fellow players. Being aware of styles of play and personalities can help you to decide how to respond. A smart player knows that it’s not just the cards that will help you win, but a canny judgment of who you’re playing against.

Amateur vs Professional

One of the basic assessments of your colleagues at the poker table is just how professional they are. This is not simply a matter of how experienced a player is, but of their behaviour during a game. A player with less experience can still act in a more responsible and mature fashion than someone who has many more years of practice under their belt.

Loose vs Tight

Players tend to either play a range of hands, in which case they can be labelled as loose-style contestants. Conversely, a tight player will stick to a narrow range and only play what they consider to be a strong hand. It is, therefore, less predictable to play a loose player. If you are sure that an opponent is a tight player, pay attention when they are confident, as it may well be backed up with some good cards.

Aggressive vs Passive

The general difference between these two styles can be compared to a football team. An aggressive player will be on the attack, taking risks and raising often. A passive player is like a defensive team, protecting what they have and calling or check more often. Putting it all together, a player can be a combination of these three factors. A professional, loose-passive player, for example, will keep their cool at all times and play a lot of hands, but will not bet or raise so much. Being aware of the style will help you to understand what they are thinking, and what kind of hand they may have.