Poker experts agree that there are 4 general terms to describe a poker player’s behavior. These terms reflect how tight and loose they play, or how passive and aggressive they are. It is a vital skill to be able to identify one’ opponents’ game playing style, in order to determine what style of play should be adopted against them. While it is imperative to use different approaches in different situations, generally the best method to use is the Tight/Aggressive (TAG) method.
How Best to Spot a Particular Style
Take note of the 4 different ways to describe a poker player’s game play: tight, loose, aggressive, and passive. When a player is referred to as a tight or a loose player, they are referring to the amount and general strength of the hands that they are receptive to playing. A loose player is very open to playing most of the hands that he/she gets, while a tight player waits until he/she gets a quality hand. A passive player tends to limp into hands. What this means is that they will either check or call, but hardly ever raise. This is in contrast to an aggressive player who typically always raises the bet.
The list of different player types includes the following possible combinations:
• Loose – Passive
• Loose – Aggressive
• Tight – Passive
• Tight – Aggressive
The aforementioned list is of course a very general way to describe players, and it is important to remember that no individual is entirely defined by one of these types of game play. In fact, many of the more advanced players are able to switch at will between the different styles of play. This is important to prevent oneself from being predictable to other players.
A great method for those just starting out at poker is to engage in the TAG method of game play. By subscribing to the TAG style of poker play, players will be able to enjoy many benefits. The first is that it limits the number of hands that are played to only those which are high-quality/premium hands. By only playing hands that are strong, players find that they are less likely to lose to their opponents. In addition to the benefits of only playing strong hands, the added benefit of the ‘intimidation factor’ weighs in on other players. And this is all thanks to Tight Aggressive Poker play. By constantly raising, the other players at the table will believe that the TAG player is holding a whopper of a hand. This results in them folding more often than calling or raising.
The TAG Method in Action
Take this common example as a case in point: You are playing as the Button in a No Limit game of Texas Hold’em style poker. Upon the draw you receive a King and an Ace - a premium-quality hand. Then take for instance another situation where the table folds to a player who is located to your left. This player has made the decision to call. As a tight player with a strong hand in your corner you are going to want to play this.
Now here is where many rookies make a big mistake. They wait for the flop in the hopes that they make a hand. What is preferable is to act like (because it’s true) one has a premium-quality hand. Then when the flop hits, the TAG player should behave in such a way that he/she has made a hand, and be generally aggressive. As a TAG player, aggressive play in these 2 situations certainly assists in intimidating other players. Remember, the more players that are in on the flop, the higher chance that someone else will make a strong hand. The goal is to intimidate them so much that they fold - not even wanting to see what the TAG player is holding. By never reaching a showdown, the players who fold will never see the TAG player’s hand. So they really have no clue whether it was a genuinely strong hand, or a bluff.
TAG Tip for Novice Players
As a beginner, you are going to generally want to stick to the TAG method if you want to hang on to your chips. It keeps you from playing too many hands, and from being bullied once you do play.