The game of online poker and the psychology involved is made up of many variables. One has to understand the rules, the odds, the cards and various factors such as bluffing to start to master the game. However, many top poker pros will tell you that there is nothing more important than understanding the different personality types that you will face while playing poker online. There is, of course, a major difference between reading a poker player online and reading a poker player in a live casino. Simply put, you can not actually see your opponent or hear them. You will not be able to look or listen for any tells or tips to what they may be thinking about doing next. You will have to base your decisions totally on how your opponents play their cards and how they bet.
When you are trying to figure out an online opponent, you must quickly pay attention to many details. The action is faster than live play and can become a bit confusing for a newer player. Many experienced online players keep detailed notes about every hand they play, listing the cards played, the bets placed and the names of each of their opponents. They also may download text files from the online poker room of all the hands they played in each online session in order to study the play of their opponents. This can be quite useful because when you play online poker on a regular basis you will start to see many of the same opponents over and over. By studying their play and reviewing your notes and the text files of the hands you played, you will start to notice patterns of play that develop from many of your opponents.
While it is always desirable to vary ones play to keep your poker opposition guessing, almost every online poker player will develop a style of play they prefer. Some like to play loose while others favor tight play. Some are aggressive while others are as steady and conservative as the Rock of Gibraltar. Some are out of control and play like lunatics on a rampage. It is up to you, as both a player and as a student of the game of poker, to learn to identify each of these types and find the best way to counter them.
For the sake of clarity, lets break these player types down by the standard used by almost all the online poker writers and experts. There are five basic player personality types we will look at. They are the loose passive player or the Amateur, the loose aggressive player known as the Maniac, the tight passive player or the Tight Player and the tight aggressive player called the Solid Player. Lets add a fifth type to the mix, that we will call the Pro. This player is a super slick, experienced player and is always mixing up play styles to keep you off balance but even this type of play will start to show patterns and when you see the patterns, you will adjust accordingly.
This gives us our five basic types of online poker players. The Amateur, the Pro, the Maniac, the Tight Player and the Solid Player. Now we must figure out ways to manage each of them to improve our success in online poker. Before we take a closer look at each type. lets briefly review the quickest way to study and learn from each of these types. Types of players can usually be learned by two basic factors. First, how many starting hands does the player usually play and second, the way the player bets. By observing how many starting hands a player plays and a noticing their betting patterns, you can start to get a sense of what type of poker personality the player represents. If a player plays a lot of hands, we would say the play style is loose and if they only play a few hands when they have good cards, we can say they are playing tight. Players who constantly check or call and hardly ever raise, are passive and players who are always betting and raising are aggressive players.
Now for the actual online poker player personality types and how to deal with each of them. First we have the Amateur who plays a loose passive style. This is every experienced poker players favorite species of fish.These players are online to have a good time and love to get into the action. They pay little attention to what type of hand they have and will constantly call your bet, just to stay in the hand. They will rarely raise your bet but will call, call, call. They are often referred to in books and videos as Calling Stations since they will always be happy to call your bet. The key to beating this type of player is whenever you have a decent hand, bet enough to keep them in the hand. Just dont bet too much and scare them away. You dont want to go overboard with your bet because to this types way to thinking, that will scream out, Ive got a great hand. Avoid bluffing them because your bluff will probably just cause them to call you. If you must bluff an Amateur, you have to scare them off the hand with a large raise or bet.
Next up is the Maniac. These guys have the potential to ruin an experienced player. Their loose aggressive play style means they are constantly playing their hand and will bet or raise almost anything. They use their super aggressive, attack mode betting style to make up for the lack of solid hands. The Maniac can be a very dangerous opponent and can really hurt you, if you fall for their playing style. Because they are always playing their hands and betting and raising, you never can be sure when they might have a strong hand or they are just playing with junk. If you misread the Maniac, you just might become the victim of a monster hand. The key to playing against a Maniac is to remain calm and play a steady, patient style. Try to find ways to get to the Maniac and force them into action when you are holding the good cards. In short, Patience and Provocation are the keys to beating the Maniac.
When your opponent is a tight passive personality or Tight player, it is time to make some money. This type tends to play true to the cards they hold and bet small amounts when they have a decent hand. If they have a weak hand, they fold. This makes them easy to read and they can make an observant player a nice pile of chips since they rarely, if ever bluff. The Tight Player can do well against a loose player who doesnt pay attention to the hands being played by the Tight Player. All in all, this guy is almost as popular among experienced players as the Amateur.
The Solid or tight Aggressive player tends to play their starting hand carefully and will often simply fold right away rather than staying in with a weak hand. If they do stay in for the flop, they will often bet and raise aggressively on the turn and at the river. This personality type prefers to play only solid hands and will become easy to spot as the game develops. They can do well and build huge piles of chips by playing only a few, choice hands but eventually they will get typecast by an observant player. Since this guy likes to play only solid hands, they can often be bluffed out of many hands before the flop.
Every type of poker personality we have mentioned so far has certain traits. When an online poker player sticks to a particular style of play, eventually the better players at the virtual table will spot their style and start to take advantage of them. This is where our final online poker personality type comes into the game. The Pro label is usually applied to Professional poker players who earn their living playing poker but it can also, in this context, be applied to experienced, non-professional online poker players. These guys love to mix up their play style and keep their opponents off balance. This player will usually favor one style of play but will constantly mix in aspects of other styles to keep their opponents guessing. They may play Solid for a while, then just when you think you have them figured out, they switch it up and start bluffing you off of your good hands. They are hard to read and most experts will advise you to play them conservatively. You should only consider confronting them when you have a strong hand. It is better to concentrate on the Amateurs and the Tight players since they are much easier to spot and predict than a Pro.
These are our five major online poker personality types. Each style of play has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. To a certain extent, our preferred play style can be limited by the styles of our opponents in an online poker game. When a situation arises that puts your play style at a distinct disadvantage, you have two choices. Switch it up or log out for a while. It is often better to leave a table that doesnt suit your basic play style rather than let your emotions get the better of you and end up taking a beating. There will always be another table to join online that will better suit your style. Just remember to be observant, stay patient and keep a cool head. Then mix it up a bit like the Pros and keep your opponents guessing. Learning the basics of every online poker personality type and varying your play style enough to keep your opponents from reading you is the key to winning at online poker.
I’m Jason Rockwell. When I’m not winning playing online poker, I enjoy writing about my love of the game. Thanks for visiting!