Texas Hold’em is often thought to be a difficult game to learn and to master. However, once you get the basics down, learning how to successfully read and classify your opponents at the table will take your Texas Hold’em game to the next level. This proves that Texas Hold’em is not only easy to learn, but that it’s also one of the most fun and rewarding forms of poker.
How To Play Poker For Beginners; Classifying The Four Styles.
If you’ve ever tried your hand at Texas Hold’em, or watched a few games online or on your TV, you’ve probably already come across terms like “TAG”, “Calling Station”, “LAG”, and “Rock”. While they may sound a bit odd, these are all terms that have been developed by players over the years to classify various types of poker players. Each of these classifications is based on various playing habits, styles and attitudes that each player will adopt, even subconsciously at the table.
These four basic playing styles cover the majority of players that you will encounter at the poker table. Once you understand how each works and what the tell-tale signs is that belong to each basic type, you will be able to use them as part of your own effective counter-strategy to win more games, more often.
How To Play Poker For Beginners; Classifying Your Opponents.
Let’s look at the basic playing style features that distinguish one opponent from another. These features can be categorised under two main aspects:
· Starting hands
· Betting patterns
With starting hands, the two ‘hole’ cards that a player holds (does not fold) pre-flop and you have two kinds of players:
· Loose = Refers to opponents that prefer to play lots of hands (plays the top 40%)
· Tight = Refers to opponents that prefer to play fewer starting hands (plays 15% of starting hands)
Betting patterns are determined in relation to calls and again, there are two main types:
· Aggressive = Refers to a player that prefers to bet more frequently
· Passive = Refers to a payer that prefers to bet less frequently
To be more precise – a betting pattern is essentially a correlation between betting, raising and calling. To see how it works in action, take the total number of wagers or bets and raises that an opponent makes and add them, and then relate them to the number of calls made.
If one were to put it down as a formula:
(Number of bets + raises) / number of calls)
How To Play Poker For Beginners;The Four Main Player Classifications and How to Deal with Them
Knowing how players operate based on what we know from starting hand and betting pattern information, we can the further classify each opponent into one of four categories:
The Calling Station
Main playing characteristics: Loose/Passive
This type of player plays lots of starting hands. Rarely bets or raises. Most often the style of a beginner.
Your Best Strategy against the Calling Station
Here, your best strategy is to not attempt to bluff against the Calling Station and only bet if your hands are good enough to. In fact, if the Calling Station is in the hand, or if he/she is sitting in the blinds, it’s a good idea to raise higher than you normally would pre-flop provided that your hand is strong enough. However, with a low to medium strength hand, it’s usually best to fold if the Loose/Passive type of player bets.
Main playing characteristics: Loose/Aggressive
This type of player plays a lot of hands, bets and raises frequently. Does not call often.
Your Best Strategy against the LAG
Increasing your volume of hands played pre-flop is a good starting strategy against a LAG style of player. This works especially well if you happen to be a better than average player, as you’ll find that your focused style is favoured pre-flop against the LAG’s strategy of playing lots of hands. If you have a strong hand, you can isolate the LAG by raising before the flop to counter his or her bet. Another effective strategy is to check and wait to see if the LAG raises if he or she has position on you.
Main playing characteristics: Tight/Passive
This type of player plays only a few hands, rarely bets, rarely raises. When he does, he usually holds quite a strong hand.
Your Best Strategy against the Rock
It is best to only play your very best hands as well as fold the balance of the hole cards in the event that the Rock type player decides to bet or raises pre-flop. In addition, it is often the best strategy to check, in the event that you have a drawing hand on the flop. The reason being, a Rock type player rarely bets, so you will more than likely get to see the next board card for nothing. Another strategy that often works is to attempt to steal the blinds by raising 3BB from late position if the Rock is sitting in the blinds.
Main playing characteristics: Tight/Aggressive
This type of player plays few hands, bets and raises frequently. Does not call often.
Your Best Strategy against the TAG
The main playing characteristic of the TAG is to play tight, so attempting to steal his blinds if you happen to be sitting in late position can often be a good strategy. However, unless you have the best possible starting hand, it is the best strategy to fold if the TAG is betting or raising pre-flop. Play aggressively and always consider raising again on hands containing either KK, QQ or AA. Check to the TAG on the flop if you are playing out of position and holding a strong hand as continuation bets are another strong indicator of TAG type player strategy. In general, playing a tight and/or aggressive strategy often works the best in poker. However, at the same time, it is always good strategy to minimize the number of TAG type players in the hand.
How to Classify Your Opponents in Texas Hold’em Poker; Conclusion
Its a useful poker strategy to be able to classify your opponents in a poker game. Straight away you will have a plan of action and a way of playing worked out to play against them. They can be tricky, especially the loose aggressive player, but mostly in the early stages of the game when its cheap to call or raise with any two cards. But hopefully now you have a plan in place to deal with that. When you go and play tonight, practice this basic poker strategy and you will be surprised at how effective it is. Have a great game.