Broadly speaking then there are four main poker styles and these are tight-aggressive, loose-aggressive, tight-passive and loose-passive. The tight-loose part of the equation refers to how many times you play your hands and the aggressive-passive part refers to how you play them. It is almost universal knowledge that the best style to teach and to learn is the tight-aggressive style.
There are several reasons for this and firstly one of the biggest mistakes that you can make in poker is simply to play too many hands. This flaw is corrected simply by playing tighter poker. But another flaw that you see players make is that they don’t play aggressively enough for the pots that they play. There are several reasons why you need to play aggressively for pots but the two main reasons are that you will pay less rake when there is no flop and also you can win pots by having the initiative.
Let us look at an example to show you what I mean. A player with pocket eights limps in and it gets folded to you on the button with Qc-Jd. Raising is an aggressive play but it helps you to win the pot without seeing a flop which is always a good result when you play any hand of poker without having to pay any rake.
But if the original raiser calls you then you have the initiative in the hand and let us say that the flop comes A-K-9. The player with the pocket eights is going to have a hard time continuing with the hand when your pre-flop raise indicated that you had an ace or a king in your hand.
So by simply raising then you gave yourself several chances to not only win the pot but to win a pot without having to pay rake. Now let us look at how a tight-passive player may play the hand. They limp instead as would a loose-passive player but then one of the blinds who is aggressive decides to attack the apparent weakness of the two limpers and makes a big raise. Suddenly you have lost a big blind if you fold whereas in the previous example then you could have won several big blinds.
When you play a tight-aggressive style then you can win money more often on your bluffs and semi-bluffs as well. This is because you are not playing too many hands and so the hands that you do play will leave your opponents thinking that you actually do have the hands that your bets and raises are representing. This is another advantage to the tight-aggressive style because it also increases fold equity and allows you to take pots down in other ways.
A loose-aggressive style of play can also be very profitable but it does require a lot more skill and experience to be able to play. This is because of the higher number of marginal situations that you will be placing yourself into. Like raising with the Q-J against pocket eights for example and the flop coming 10-7-5. While aggressive action on the flop and future streets could take the pot down, you could also get called down as well. But the bottom line is that the tight-aggressive style of play is superior to all other styles of play simply because of how effective it is combined with how much simpler it is to learn.
Carl Sampson plays online poker at www.888poker.com