By Alton Hardin
In poker, we can categorize poker player types into two broad categories, which are good and bad players. We can then further break good and bad poker players into specific types of good and bad opponents based upon their tendencies and HUD stats. In this article we will briefly categorize good and bad player types.
Good Player Types
There are three basic types of good poker players:
- NITs (Really Tight Players)
- TAGs (Tight Aggressive Players)
- LAGs (Loose Aggressive Players)
NITs can be categorized as the scrooges of poker. They are very risk-adverse and only play the very best-of-the-best starting hands pre-flop. Additionally, they will usually only get involved in big pots post-flop with a very strong hand. Most NITs play a very tight and aggressive style of poker and will play fit-or-fold post-flop, meaning they will only continue with a hand post-flop if they have hit a strong hand or very strong draw. Always be aware of NITs when they are betting, because this usually means they have a very strong hand or draw; NITs are not known to bluff.
Tight aggressive opponents, commonly referred to as TAGs are your typical good poker player opponent type. Most poker books, video training series, and coaches advocate a TAG style approach to the game for beginning poker players. Why? Because the TAG approach and style of poker is time-tested and works. A TAG will play a tight range of starting poker hands, but not nearly as tight as a NIT; moreover, a TAG will play their hands pre-flop and post-flop in an aggressive fashion raising and re-raising against weaker opponents.
Most TAGs are very difficult to play against because they are competent poker players and skilled in all aspects of the game. Unlike most NITs, a TAG is also capable of bluffing in opportune spots. A TAG doesn’t need a made or strong poker hand to bet and be aggressive, which makes them difficult to play against.
Good loose aggressive opponents, commonly referred to as LAGs are arguably the toughest type of poker player to play against. Moreover, the LAG-style of play, if implemented properly is the most profitable style of poker.
LAGs are tougher to play against than TAGs because they play a wider range of hands than TAGs and bluff more often. Additionally, they will fight for most of the pots they are in and are fearless opponents. While NITs are risk-adverse, LAGs do not fear risky situations; they embrace them. When a LAG is in a hand, they put pressure on their opponents, not afraid to bluff and re-raise with the worst hand in the right spots.
Bad Player Types
There are three basic types of bad poker players:
- Loose Passive
- (Loose Passive) Calling Stations
- Bad Aggressive (Maniacs)
A loose passive opponent type is the stereotypical bad player. This type of that player is very loose but also very passive. A loose passive opponent loves to limp in pre-flop to try to see flops for as cheap as possible. However, when facing pre-flop aggression, a loose passive opponent will usually fold. Additionally, this type of opponent plays in a fit or fold manner post-flop, meaning they will fold if they miss out and will often never bluff. A loose passive opponent will only bet or raise pre-flop and post-flop with a strong hand.
A calling station is a type of loose passive opponent, with many of the same characteristics except for one main difference, calling stations hate to fold. Calling stations love to limp and see flops, but tend to not fold to aggression, making them almost impossible to bluff. They will call pre-flop, even to raises and re-raises with a wide range of hands. Post-flop they will float c-bets with draws and A-high hands. But just like their loose passive counterpart, they will only become aggressive and bet or raise with a very strong hand.
The bad aggressive opponent, commonly referred to as the maniac is the bad player version of the LAG. While a LAG has controlled aggression, bad aggressive maniacs have uncontrolled aggression. They love to gamble by betting and raising relentlessly without any sound strategy in mind. Most bad aggressive maniacs will have a huge stack, be down multiple buy-ins or bust out of the table very quickly. You will often see huge swings in the chip stack in relatively short periods of time. Because they have uncontrolled aggression, you never can tell exactly what they have. They can be bluffing or value-betting. Moreover, they tend to put people on tilt when they make silly moves and suck out on a huge pot. But the great thing about bad aggressive opponents is that they can be easy targets to double up against if you play against them correctly.
There are three basic types of good poker players and three basic types of bad poker players that you will often face at the poker table. To become a good poker player, you must both be able to identify and effectively play against all poker player types.
This article is a good starting point to begin identifying basic poker player types. If you are interested in learning more about the details of the player types discussed in this article, as well as strategies for playing against them, please check out my Fundamentals of Exploitative Online Poker: Learn to Exploit Your Opponents Through HUD Stats, Player Tendencies and Table Selection book available at Amazon.com.