In this article, I will introduce the 4 basic strategies involved in poker – tight, loose, aggressive and passive. I will assume that the reader already knows the basic terminology associated with poker. If not, please visit my website (below) for access to a glossary and an explanation of the rules.
A tight player plays relatively few hands. They fold frequently and will only bet with a strong hand. An example of a tight strategy is to only play a hand when you’re dealt “blackjack” cards – cards that add up to 20 or 21. In other words, with this example, you would always immediately exit the hand if you had any card lower than 10 in your hole cards.
A loose player is more likely to play hands and fold less often. For this reason, they are more likely to be playing a weak hand at any given time than a tight player is. Determining whether or not an opponent is playing loose can help with calling their bluff – if you know a player is tight, you know they are less likely to be bluffing.
An aggressive poker player is one who bets and raises often, as opposed to checking and calling. They are always encouraging the other players to put more money in the pot. This can have the effect of forcing opponents to fold.
Passive play is the opposite of aggressive play – here, a player will consistently check or call.
Beginner poker players are often encouraged to play with a tight/aggressive style. A beginner should avoid playing weaker hands, and fold unless they are dealt a pair or picture cards. The “blackjack” rule described above is a good one to use. When you decide to play a hand, bet aggressively. This stance is a relatively low risk and requires less in the way of bluffing skill. Once you get more experienced, you may want to incorporate a loose approach and start playing a few weaker hands, trying to bluff, or taking the chance to go for a straight, etc.
I would advise that beginners make use of a “play money” account before risking the contents of their wallet! Check out my site for more information – there are a variety of companies offering software which allows you to play for free (hoping, of course, that you’ll deposit real money when you feel more confident!) Free online poker is a great way to cut your teeth anonymously.