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Home / Texas Hold em / Playing Styles – Tight, Aggressive, Super Aggressive

Playing Styles – Tight, Aggressive, Super Aggressive

According to how many starting hands a player likes to act on and how he likes to push his stack around, he/she can be categorized into tight or loose and passive or aggressive. Being tight means that one doesn’t like to play many starting hands (thus avoiding the mistake most rookies make of playing way too many starting hands for their own good), being loose means one likes to act on a much wider range of starting hands than a tight player.

Being passive or aggressive is about the betting habits. A passive player is a calling station: he doesn’t like to take the initiative in a hand and mostly just calls. Betting and raising are tools he seldom ever resorts to. Being passive is generally regarded as a negative trait, one that is common among weak players.

Aggressive players are not afraid to bet, raise or even re-raise. They do whatever it takes to make sure they get the best odds for their hands, regardless if that involves putting pressure on their opponents. Still other players are addicted to push their opponents around and to ruin their odds time after time. These guys are called super-aggressive players.

Players who are too loose can be categorized into loose passive and loose aggressive. The loose passive player is someone who can’t stand to be sidelined. He craves action on every hand, although lacks the courage to commit on anything, or to assert dominance in any way. These guys are the “calling stations” good players like so much. There’s tons of money to be made on these guys. Since a “calling station” will call on just about any marginal hand, your chances of beating him on solid hand are pretty good, and because of his style of play you can “milk” your good hands against him to the maximum. Don’t count on a “calling station” being around for too long though. They usually bust out of tournaments early, and get felted in cash games pretty fast too.
If you identify a player as being loose-passive, you need to hammer your advantage home against him through bets and raises he’ll likely call despite the odds involved.

The loose-aggressive guy is a gambler. This player sees action on almost every single hand he’s dealt, and he’s not afraid to put pressure on others despite acting on a bunch of rags. You should not make this style your own unless thrills are the only reason you’re in the game. Playing a loose-aggressive style will make your stack go through wild ups and downs and it will have you felted sooner or later if you stick with it.

How to play against such a player? Due to the importance the luck factor gets in Texas Hold’em, eliminating or felting such a loose-aggressive maniac can be a handful. Practice solid hand selection, and trap him when you have a good hand going: the hands that these guys play are most of the time weaker than what you’ll play with solid starting hand selection. If you happen to be hit by a bad beat when trying to keep them honest, don’t tilt. They do not stand a chance against solid hand selection over the long-run.

Tight players can be classified into tight passive, and tight aggressive. Being tight and passive is usually a sign of weakness and of lack of understanding of the game of poker. Some rookies go down this road and become what the poker community knows as “rocks”. These “rocks” love their stack and they cling on to it to the best of their abilities. They only ever commit on very solid hands, and they’re only likely to call on such hands too. They’re always ready to yield to strong betting. Some players become such rocks at the end of a series of bad beats when they grow to believe that they cannot possibly win a hand anymore. By acting passive on their solid hands though they give other drawing hands free cards and often end up being miraculously outdrawn, a fact which further fuels tight passive ways. These guys last longer in tournaments than the hyper-aggressive bunch, although due to their conservative ways they don’t ever stand a real chance of making it deep into the money. Being tight-passive is just about the worst attitude you can have when playing in a STT or MTT. Due to the fact that they fail to make the most of their strong hands, tight-passive rocks will have a hard time making money in the long-run in cash games too. Given the fact that the object of poker is to make money, breaking out of the tight-passive rut should be a priority for all players.

Play aggressively against a rock like this. He’s basically begging to be bullied around, and he will not fight back. He’ll give up equity on every hand he plays. Beware of this guy when he begins shooting out bets, exercise careful hand selection and do not be afraid to slow-play against him every now and then.

Tight aggressive is the kind of style recommended by most specialists as the “good old solid way to play the game”. Being tight on the hand selection and extremely tight on the flop, a tight-aggressive player will act decisively whenever he thinks he has a realistic shot at the best hand after the flop. Some tight aggressive players aim to take down several smaller sized pots avoiding to commit their entire stack if possible, others have no problems shoving all-in when they believe they’ll take the pot down.
The problem with being tight aggressive is that it requires a lot of patience, something most online players are not well endowed with. Also, a few hours of such solid tight-aggressive play can be ruined by a maniac who gets lucky and hits a runner-runner in a single hand. Tight aggressive play can be extremely frustrating, but it is the best way to make money in cash-games in the long run.

In tournaments however, the tight aggressive coin may buy you nice chip-ups early on, but as the deep money approaches, you’ll need to break out of the pattern. Tight aggressive players can be countered well once you have a read on them. A bet or a follow-up bet from this guy means he’s probably got the goods, otherwise you can bully him around and steal his blinds relatively well.

In conclusion: adopting one of these playing styles as your own should never be done in a rigid manner. Be prepared to break out of the molds of your style when the situation requires it, otherwise you’ll just become predictable, which equals a death sentence for your stack.


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