Variations in Style: Ways to Read Opponents

Whether you are just starting to learn the ins and outs of poker or whether you've been playing for years, you are likely well aware of the importance of reading your opponents. In particular, it is imperative that you develop the ability to identify playing styles. This will help you decide how to anticipate and react to your opponents' moves.

Tight or Loose

One question you'll want to ask yourself while playing a game of Texas Hold 'Em, for example, is whether your opponents are playing tight or loose. Someone who plays tight will play fewer hands, and you can assume they are waiting for a great hand so they can make a big move. Loose players play more hands and place more bets in the hopes that luck will be on their side.

Aggressive or Passive

Another stylistic observation you should learn to make is whether players are being passive or aggressive. Aggressive players will generally take the lead in betting, and will raise often. Passive players generally only bet when they are forced to, and will often check or call. The spectrum of aggressiveness and passiveness can range widely, from those who are mildly aggressive, for instance, to those who are referred to as "maniacs."

Most players use a combination of these tactics, playing tight-passive or loose-aggressive. You may often hear poker veterans referring to a player's style as VPIP or PFR as well, abbreviations which refer to the percentage of hands a player will put down during a round and the percentage of times he raises during a round, respectively.

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