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StrategyFixed Limit

The 8 player types - how to get their money

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Introduction

In this article
  • How the types of opponents differ
  • The 8 types of players
  • How to beat them

When you are playing in the lower limits, you don't need to worry about getting very specific reads on each opponent at the table, since you will probably never see them again. The important thing is knowing what type of player your opponent is and how to adjust your game to counter his playing style.

How the types of opponents differ

There are two basic questions to ask yourself:

  • Does he play a lot of hands or only a few?
  • Does he play aggressively or passively?

We say someone who likes to play a lot of hands is 'loose,' whereas someone who only plays a few carefully selected starting hands is 'tight.'

This clearly refers to a player's pre-flop style, but you can use the same terms to define post-flop play. A compound term, for example, is 'loose fit or fold.' This refers to players who like to see a lot of flops, but always fold when they don't hit anything. This usually doesn't happen, which makes it easy to get them out of the pot.

The second question refers to how a player plays his hand. If he is aggressive, you can choose a playing style that anticipates his aggression. This might be as simple as a check/raise (you check knowing he is likely to bet and give you the chance to raise). Of course, this line of action can only work if your opponent does bet.

You also might try inducing a bluff: you feign weakness to encourage your opponent to bluff. Once again, this only works if your opponent bets. A passive player probably won't fall for it, since bluffing is an aggressive move.

The best way to play against passive opponents is to make standard value bets. If you have a good hand and know your opponent isn't going to put any money into the pot on his own, help him out.

No matter what type of opponent you are facing, the trick is to do the opposite to what he does. If he is loose, be tight. If he is tight, loosen up. If he likes to bluff, take the passive route and let him do it. If he is passive, seize the initiative.

A typical mistake many players make is thinking. For example: "he is playing every hand he gets, so I should too." The exact opposite is the correct course of action.

Rocks

Let's start with one of the more extreme player types: the rock.

Rocks are easy to spot, since they hardly ever play a hand. They sit there for hours and hours and do nothing. And they aren't waiting for good hands, they are waiting for the best.

If he starts creating a stir you can be pretty sure he has five aces (or better) and a guarantee signed by God, that he will win the hand!

Adjusting your game to a rock's style is pretty easy, just:

  • Ignore him 
  • Attack his blinds at every chance.
  • If he calls your pre-flop raise you can almost always take down the pot with a contibet.
  • Get out of the way if he starts rolling.

The rock can make a profit at the lower limits, even though his game is weak. His playing style requires only one thing: an idiot. A rock's profit comes from players who choose the wrong moment to bluff, thinking, "he hasn't played a hand yet and now he's raising like a maniac - he must be bluffing!" Don't be the idiot paying him off.

Nits

A somewhat less extreme, but very prominent player type is the nit. A nit tries to play good poker, but just doesn't quite understand what is meant by tight play.

Nits also love to fold. They've learned enough about poker to think they know what they are doing. They usually picked up a starting hands chart somewhere and have a solid, aggressive pre-flop game.

They run into trouble after the flop where they usually realise they don't quite have things under control and end up regretting having gotten involved in the hand at all.

The same applies to a rock. Playing aggressively against a nit isn't just good for your ego, it's good for your bankroll too. Nits are just looking for a reason to fold, so give it to them.

Nits rarely bluff, with contibets being the sole exception. Respect this and don't start calling because you think he might be bluffing. If a nit raises, contibets the flop and bets again on the turn, he is almost guaranteed to have the best hand.

Weak Tight Players

Moving along we come to the weak, tight players (rocks and nits are an extreme form of this player type).

Weak tight players' main problem is that they don't know how to react to aggression and are usually too scared to make the right decision.

You won't always notice right away, but after enough hands you will be able to spot who is folding too often when confronted with aggression.

Attack their blinds. Make contibets and be (selectively) aggressive. Weak tight players aren't the poorest of players, but you can get your hands on their money fairly easily with the right dose of aggression.

TAGs

TAG is the abbreviation for 'tight aggressive,' which represents difficulty since you yourself are a TAG. The TAG style is the king of styles - if Bobby Fisher played poker, he would have been a TAG.  

There isn't much to say about TAGs. Once you've mastered the strategy, you just have to ask yourself where your game is weak. The same applies to such an opponent.

You can be aggressive, but choose your spots carefully. You can also attack TAGs' blinds, but be careful there, as well.

In general, when playing against a TAG you can say:

  • He isn't your opponent.
  • Concentrate on the real fish.
  • If there aren't any fish at the table, try your luck in other waters.

You can get a lot of good practice by playing against TAGs, especially against the weaker TAGs you will find in the lower limits. This is a good way to find weak spots in your own game and plug up all the leaks before you reach the higher limits, where you will find a lot more TAGs at the tables. All in all however, they are not your ideal opponents when it comes to making money.

Maniacs

Maniacs are the exact opposite of what we've discussed so far. Maniacs are the James Deans of the poker table: wild and untamable. The difference is they don't tend to be as cool as the real James Dean. They are more like a bunch of Rob Schneiders.

Maniacs are loose and extremely aggressive. A maniac doesn't see poker as a game of strategy, but as one of having the biggest balls. And he's sure his are the biggest.

Maniacs are easy to induce into bluffing. They like bluffing, so let them. Slowplaying doesn't usually get you far on the lower limits, but you can make an exception for the maniacs.

When facing a maniac, you should:

  • Play tight
  • Induce bluffs
  • Refrain from bluffing yourself

Wait for a good hand and play the innocent little girl in the forest, who is not afraid of the big bad wolf. Don't let him pull you into a number of senseless confrontations. Your friends might call you Captain Amazing, but playing poker is about making a profit by making the right decision at the right moment. It's not about being the captain at the table. You can't counter a maniac by becoming one yourself.

You're just a nickname and avatar as far as your opponent is concerned. You can't prove anything to him, no matter how hard you might want to. Keep cool and follow your strategy to get as much money out of him as you can.

Like the other extreme player types, maniacs have a gift for putting other players on tilt. If you catch yourself wanting to not only take your opponent's money, but also leave a lasting impression, you might want to look for another table with normal opponents. You may find these tables even more profitable.

LAGs

LAG is the abbreviation for 'loose aggressive.' LAGs play a lot of hands, and they play them aggressively. They are like maniacs with a dose of self-control.

The LAG style was profitable at the higher limits for some time, but it outlived its existence and the pendulum has since swung towards the TAG style. As far as the lower limits are concerned: there are no LAGs. There are maniacs (and near maniacs), as well as a lot of players that imitate the LAG style without really knowing what they are doing (especially at Full Tilt).

A good LAG makes his profit after the flop. This is where he makes the right decision in marginal situations to get the most out of his hands. His loose starting hand selection is what puts him in these marginal situations on and after the flop. His opponents often underestimate him thinking he is a maniac, but he knows what he is doing.

There's not much more to say about them in this article, since there aren't any LAGs to be found in the lower limits. If you see an opponent who somewhat fits the profile, you can adjust your game by tightening your hand selection, inducing bluffs and avoiding confrontations in marginal situations.

Calling stations

Calling stations have been dying out over the past few years. Some of the older players remember the good old days when the tables were full of players who didn't know what the fold button was for. They aren't so common nowadays, but you will still run into them from time to time.

Calling stations only know one move: call. They are in for the long haul and rarely show aggression, even when they have very good hands.

They don't even need a reason to call. If they call your raise before the flop, they will call your bet on the flop. Even though they are holding a nine and a six and looking at a three, an eight and a jack on the flop.

Don't waste your time trying to understand the method to their madness. Here is what you should do:

  • Never bluff a calling station. Don't overdo it with your semi-bluffs either.
  • If you have a hand, bet.
  • Don't try to induce a bluff, since calling stations will rarely do so.
  • Make thinner value bets. This means you can bet with a medium made hand, because a calling station is likely to find a reason to call with an even worse hand.
  • Play draws passively; calling stations will give you free cards.
  • Remember, if a calling station shows aggression, he probably has a monster.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Calling stations do bluff now and then when they don't complete their draws on the river. Still, you should generally play for value. When you catch a decent hand, try to get as much for it as possible.

It's pretty simple poker, as long as you don't go on tilt. That can happen when a calling station gets a good run. They are the ones who are going to suckout and come from behind on the only card you didn't want to see on the river. If you know that can make you lose your nerve, you might want to find another table.

Donkeys

Donkey is a general term for a poor player who stands out for making moves that make no sense at all.

A typical donkey in the lower limits likes looking at the flop and doesn't know why you would want to raise before the flop...after all, you don't know what's going to come.

He loves to bluff thinking, "he's got nothing," and is willing to call with even less.

He likes to play his draws passively and then bluff when he doesn't complete his draw on the river. He bets and raises for no reason. He bluffs when he should know he's beaten, and he calls with nothing to back it up. He's a great player as far as your bankroll is concerned.

Donkeys tend to be too loose and too passive. They love to slowplay when they do have a hand, and are willing to bet it all when they get that itch to bluff. They also tend to suffer from heavy mood swings and can go from calling station to maniac mode, depending on whether they are winning or losing. Pay attention to these things. Most donkeys change their style several times during the course of a session.

Donkeys do have one talent: tilt. The problem is they don't just go on tilt themselves, they bring others with them due to their completely unexamined style of play. Donkeys like playing gutshots and sometimes they hit on the river. Not everyone can handle that kind of a suckout.

If you have a donkey at the table, just stick to your standard ABC poker. Keep him under observation. How does he play his monsters? When does he fold? Not all donkeys are the same, but they are all easy enough to spot and offer you plenty of opportunities to be agressive.

Once you've got him in your sights, you can start taking his money bit by bit, assuming he doesn't hit that gutshot three times in a row on the river. If he does get that lucky, keep your cool and avoid going on tilt. If you feel your temper heating up, go find a new table.

Conclusion

You don't make money in poker because you get a better hand than your opponent once in a while. Everyone gets good hands. If you want to make money, you have to play your good hands better than your opponent plays his. This counts for your bad hands too.

There is no sense in pitting yourself against the best when you are building up your bankroll in the lower limits. Look for the calling stations, nits and weak tight opponents and, if you have steady nerves, the maniacs.

You'll run into enough good opponents in the mid-stakes. The lower limits are full of idiots. Singling them out and taking their money is the secret to working your way up.

The most important thing when you first start playing poker is increasing your bankroll. This is done by carefully choosing your opponents. Now you know who to look for, so go get 'em!

 

Comments (6)

#1 eestipoiss3, 28 Aug 09 22:43

Very useful. thanks

#2 imoldovann, 19 Nov 09 14:11

I love this article, it's full of very good information, and it's also very good written.

#3 kirbyscball, 12 Jul 10 01:24

The pics are funny and your writeup on Donkeys was hilarious. Funny thing is I have caught myself doing some of those stupid things. Still learning though lol.<br /> Thanks

#4 Destecado, 14 Feb 11 10:29

Good and great fun! Thx

#5 breezy10101, 19 Jun 11 16:17

Thx, I enjoyed reading this too ^^

#6 kardus2013, 05 Jun 13 09:43

Thanks you