Poker Playing Styles: Strategies and Countermeasures

Poker Academy
24 Apr 2024
Holdem Strategy
24 Apr 2024

Did you know that there are various playstyles in poker? For example, some players play with too many hands, some bet frequently, and others fold quickly unless they have a decent hand to continue.

As Sun Tzu says in "The Art of War":

"Know yourself and know your enemy, and you need not fear the result of a hundred battles" 

There is no doubt that knowing your own playing style and your opponent's style will make you a stronger poker player!

Two axes of poker styles

Types of poker playstyles can be divided into four categories based on two axes:

  • Frequency of betting/raising
  • Tigntness/looseness of starting hands

Frequency of betting/raising

The frequency of betting or raising refers to how often a player bets or raises. A higher percentage indicates a more aggressive player, while a lower percentage is considered passive.

Tigntness and looseness of starting hands

This parameter refers to the portion of hands a player gets involved in pots with.

Players who play marginal hands like 84s are considered loose, while those who play only strong hands are considered tight.

Four general types of playstyle

Next, let's take a closer look at the four types that can be divided based on these two axes: frequency of betting/raising and width of starting ranges.

Tight-Aggressive (TAG)

The first playstyle to introduce is tight-aggressive (TAG). This style involves playing with a narrow range of hands and frequently betting or raising.

Tight-aggressive players typically bet or raise with strong hands. This playstyle is often considered a winning strategy in poker.

Tight-Passive (aka Rock)

Tight-passive players get involved with strong hands but are not aggressive with their betting or raising. Also known as "Rock", this playstyle is commonly adopted by players who have moved beyond the beginner stage.

This type of players does not force any action, but makes many calls and checks. As you may guess, this approach is far from being a winning strategy.

Loose-Aggressive (LAG)

Loose-aggressive players get involved with weak hands and bet or raise aggressively. They are known for their constant bluffing, making it difficult for opponents to guess their holdings.

Loose-Passive (Calling Station)

Loose-passive players, also known as "Calling Stations", get involved with weak hands and do not bet or raise aggressively.

They tend to call frequently, even with weak hands. This playing style is commonly observed among beginner players.

Other Types of Players

Here are a few less common playstyles.


Nits are opponents who only play with very strong hands, such as QQ, KK, AK, and AA. So, when they choose to enter a pot, it's advisable to play cautiously against them.


Players who frequently raise or bet with almost any hand with or without a reason are called "maniacs".

This playstyle is commonly observed among fish as well as those who are tilting or experiencing emotional distress.

How to Play against Different Playstyles?

Next, let's discuss countermeasures against each playstyle.

By understanding and deviating from optimal playstyles, you can win more chips.

Identify your opponent's playstyle and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Against TAG

Firstly, it's worth noting that tight-aggressive players have fewer weaknesses compared to other playstyles.

However, they tend to bet-fold frequently, which is their primary weakness. Exploit this by bluff-raising them when they bet aggressively. By doing so, you can effectively defeat tight-aggressive players.

Against Rocks

The main weakness of tight-passive players lies in their style itself. They often miss out on value because they don't bet aggressively.

When rocks make large bets or raises, they usually do have strong hands.

It's wise to fold without hesitation when facing significant aggression from them.

Against LAG

While loose-aggressive players may seem challenging to deal with, they are also the opponents from whom you can win the most chips.

They often bet large with weak hands, allowing you to extract value by playing tight and aggressive.

By playing aggressively, you may sometimes lose all your stack due to bad luck. However, these players are the ones who can provide the most significant EV gains in the long run, so be happy to engage with loose-aggressive players!

Against Calling Station

You can win big against loose-passive players by going for both thick and thin value.

Because they don't properly assess the value of their hands, they often call large bets or raises with middle or bottom pairs. When you have a strong hand go for big bets or raises against calling stations opponents to extract thick value!

Moreover, with decent hands don't be shy under-betting and go for thin value.

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