Poker Player Types. Profiling and Exploiting Types of Poker Players
Reading and profiling your opponents will be a key source of profit for you, if you do it well. So you’ll want to learn the different techniques we use to put players into broad categories based on their playing tendencies.
Once you learn to read and profile your opponents, you can figure out how to exploit their unique strategies; and thus boost your winrate significantly.
Let’s take a look at the four basic types of online poker player; and let’s examine how we can exploit the mistakes they’ll commonly make at the tables.
Poker Player Type #1: The Rock/Nit
We call super-tight players rocks or nits. These guys play a very tight range of hands preflop, and tend to be really aggressive on all streets when they play.
Your average nit will have an idea of position and how to use it — but he’ll be so conservative that he’ll give up a lot of his late position advantage by playing too few hands.
Since nitty types of poker players will only be playing super-premium hands (think TT+, AQ, AK, and KQs), they’ll be pushing the value hard when in a pot. You’ll notice that many nitty players have a hard time folding, even when they’re pretty obviously beat.
Given these tendencies, you can exploit a nit in a couple of ways:
• Raise a lot preflop. If you’ve got nits in the blinds acting after you, raise from late position with any two cards — you’ll almost always steal the blinds, which will boost your winrate significantly.
• Call a nit’s preflop raises with a speculative range. You’ll definitely want to play low pocket pairs and medium-high suited connectors against a nitty player. These hands will get you seriously paid off when they hit. Imagine you calling a nit’s preflop raise with 33, and the flop coming A-7-3 rainbow. Given the nit’s tight range he’s got an ace here almost always, and given he hates folding he’ll be pushing for three streets of value. You’ve got a super-disguised hand that crushes the nit’s range, which means you’re in a good position to win his entire stack. All thanks to calling pre with a speculative hand!
Poker Player Type #2: The Calling Station
We refer to calling stations more generally as fish, and these guys are the main source of profit for most of us online poker regulars. Calling stations are the exact opposite of nits: they play way too many hands, and almost never play aggressively. This is, as you can imagine, hugely exploitable.
To win stacks from a calling station types of poker players, you should:
• Play a more value-oriented range preflop. That is, don’t bluff so much. It’s insanity to try and make a player who never folds fold — so don’t do it. When you get good cards, just pump value into the pot by betting, betting, and betting some more. Bet as much as the station will allow you to. This is the key to crushing the loose-passive player type.
• Don’t bluff postflop. Again, your calling station opponent will not be folding any time soon; so why bet if you’ve got air? There is no value in bluffing a loose-passive player – just don’t do it.
• Push thinner value postflop. For example, while middle pair on a K-Q-2 rainbow flop isn’t great against a decent opponent, against a calling station you often dominate in terms of equity. A good rule of thumb against a loose-passive player is that if you’ve got a pair, you want to get money into the pot.
Poker Player Type #3: The TAG
Tight-aggressive players are typically decent, and tend to give novice players the most trouble. A TAG thrives on milking his positional advantage as well as using aggression wisely. Thus you’ll want to look out for any irregularities you notice in a TAG’s game with respect to those two things.
When playing against a TAG, you’ll want to:
• Exploit your opponent’s conservatism. Lots of TAGs — especially at the micro and small stakes — know what to do preflop, but fall apart postflop due to risk-aversion. You can figure out if your TAG opponent is unduly risk-averse by noticing how often he folds to continuation bets, or how often he checks back dry flops. Many TAGs are also uncomfortable playing 3-bet pots; so if you’ve got position, or if you’ve got a strong hand in the blinds, make villain sweat by raising his raise pre.
• Play a solid game. Raise for value, and only bluff in spots where you notice villain’s aggression plummets. For example, if your TAG opponent consistently follows a bet/bet/fold line when flops come dry (obviously missing his range) then you want to bet/bet turn and river pretty thin. Chances are good that you’ll win pots without a fight a lot of the time, if not on the turn, then on the river.
Poker Player Type #4: The LAG
Loose-aggressive types of poker players love aggression. Their whole modus operandi is creating a maniacal image, and then exploiting that image to get paid off when they’ve got valuable hands.
A LAG will raise, raise, raise preflop until they he gets caught in a ridiculous bluff or two. He doesn’t mind getting caught in the bluff, since it shifts his perceived range from strength to air; which makes his opponents begin playing back at him light. After he’s been caught, the LAG might tighten up his game a bit and wait for some value hands; and then he’ll exploit the loose image he’s crafted to get paid off against opponents who won’t give credit to his aggression.
The trick to playing against a LAG is to play a solid, value-based game. You don’t want to be battling too often with marginal hands; although you do want to be fighting back against a LAG stealing your blinds. It’s a tricky balance, and indeed entire books have been written on the subject of fighting back against LAG players. Since I only have a paragraph here, suffice it to say that the best course of action to take against a LAG is to push your valuable hands as hard as you can; all while avoiding the trap of playing back too light right into the LAG’s value range.