While a few novices believe poker is a game of luck, it is also a game of probabilities and skill. With so much complexity involved, there are different poker playing styles we will further address in this article.
The most popular among grinders is Tight Aggressive or TAG. This is embraced by regular players who carefully select their pre flop ranges as this is considered by professionals the most easily achievable edge. TAG players will not open any garbage hand but will bet aggressively post flop when they have good equity perspectives. Bluffing is also not assimilated with tight aggressive players. It has found that TAG strategy without much additions works fine for disciplined players and especially at micro stakes.
Another poker strategy used by some regulars is playing loose aggressively or LAG. This implies a wider pre flop starting range with a loose approach. More often than not a LAG player will 3-bet a lot, trying to maximize his pre flop edge and gain initiative. He can therefore control the pot by having position advantage and aggression on later streets. While there are plenty of winning players using this strategy, I have a hard time believing it is optimal for the average grinder. You need to have a very good understanding of ranges and to be able to make good readings on your opponents for this to work.
Rock is another poker playing style and it is used to describe the nits. They are an extreme version of TAG players and only open a very small range of cards. They are usually risk adverse players who are afraid in playing too many hands and confront more difficult or marginal decisions post flop. Therefore, they prefer to only involve in the game with premium hands, hoping to value town their opponents. However, it is less likely to get paid when you only play when having good cards as most opponents can easily guess you have a top hand.
Last, but not the least, you definitely have met maniacs at the tables. They are not that popular since this strategy cannot be profitable on the long run. Usually, wheels enter at the table to have some fun and go all in on mostly any flop or even shove pre flop with very weak hands. When they get paid, they usually lose all their stack but they can also win sometimes, by having luck.
There are many regulars who don’t like playing against maniacs because they are fearless and are very aggressive so a regular does not know what to do with medium strength hands. However, he should improve his hand reading skills and become more range aware if he wants to better exploit this type of player. In a more competitive environment, the edge is very thin, so a good player needs to adapt and learn how to crush maniacs at the tables.
To sum up, there are different poker playing styles, each of them with its unique characteristics. While there are some exceptions available, most of these strategies are not recommended for the average grinder. It was found that for the most regulars, discipline is required. Therefore, having a solid opening range and playing aggressively post flop your top range will eventually be rewarded. Tight aggressive or TAG players are the ones who make good profits by following this approach without panicking.