Playing poker games is about far more than having good luck, the best poker players utilise a strategy to help them to increase their chances of winning. Did you know that identifying your personality traits and developing a certain style could also help improve your game?

Anyone that enjoys playing games of a competitive nature knows that different players react in different ways in certain situations. Some take a cautious approach while others need little convincing to go all in.

In poker, there are four main playing styles that can be categorised under tight or loose and passive or aggressive. We take a deep dive into each of the four playing styles and explain what your style reveals about you and other players you will meet at the table:

Playing tight or loose

The terms tight and loose in poker styles describe how often a player plays hands, one is not necessarily better than the other as the right approach can depend on many factors and is specific to the game being played.

A tight player is one that will only play a few hands on the whole, while a loose player is someone that has a tendency to play as many hands as they possibly can. A tight player might be seen to be reserved and cautious while a loose player could be perceived as more of a risk taker or perhaps more spontaneous in nature.

Rather than being a tight or loose player for every game, it is better to be adaptable and adopt the right approach for the game being played.

How passive or aggressive is your style?

Another important aspect of a player’s style is how aggressive they are. Having an awareness of how aggressive or passive your own style of play is can help you to determine how you can improve your approach.

An aggressive player is someone who is more likely to bluff often and will bet even when their hand is not very strong. On the flip side, a passive player is an individual who checks or calls far more often and does not even play some of their good hands.

Being too extreme in either direction is not the best way to play, there are certain situations where being aggressive is the necessary approach and others when being passive might help to avoid significant losses.

With these definitions in mind, here are the four playing styles you will likely come across at the poker table:

Tight Aggressive (TAG)

The tight and aggressive approach to playing poker is often the one most recommended by professional players. If you’re playing online poker, you’ll notice a TAG poker player will tend to play less hands overall on average but when they do play the hand they lean more to the aggressive side. This can be tougher to spot when you’re playing online as you won’t be able to spot distinguishing features as easily, but you should keep a close eye on the leaderboard and see if you can spot patterns from those at the top.

When this type of player has their strongest hand, they are likely to make a 3-bet or a 4-bet, before the flop they might make some bluffs. They do not tend to call raises at a high frequency either.

Both amateur and professional players can adopt the TAG style and it may be wise for this to be your standard approach, deviating only when strictly necessary.

Loose Aggressive (LAG)

Next up is the loose aggressive player, you might be able to spot this player due to how often they open hands. They tend to do this far more than a TAG player and their approach to the river, flop or turn is generally much more on the aggressive side.

A LAG player who uses the approach well should know when to stop putting their chips in, they can also be very skilled at bluffing which can make them a very challenging opponent to play against.

If you can identify a LAG, you might be able to use their tactics against them to get the upper hand.

Tight Passive (Nit)

Someone who does not play many hands at all could possibly be a Nit player. These can be a good player to go up against as it is easier to steal the pot from them once they have missed the board.

They are unlikely to initiate a large bluff and will often fold to a relatively small bet amount. To play a Nit you might need to fold more often than you are used to.

Loose Passive (Calling Station)

Lastly, there is the loose passive player. Known as the calling station, this player will play lots of hands and is likely to make small raises and limp into pots. They might call a large bet with gutshot straight draws and are unlikely to bluff much in this situation.

To get the upper hand on these players, try to avoid bluffs and value big bets when you have a hand.