We identify the 10 types of poker player to be found out there, and how you can deal with them to ensure success
This player knows so little that they’re barely speaking the same language as you in poker terms. In the words of David ‘the Devilfish’ Ulliott: ‘if they don’t know what they’re doing how can you?’ Proceed with care and beware of playing big pots when you don’t have a big hand. Over time, you’re sure to figure out a way to beat them, but meanwhile you might get a nasty surprise on any given hand!
An extension of the loose-aggressive player, this player looks for those who are weak, and often cares little about whether the outcome for themselves is triumph or disaster. The bully can be a top player if they channel the aggression and employ good judgement (as having control of the whole table is a great way of accumulating chips), or a mediocre one if they try to settle personal scores from previous hands, or demonstrate they’re likely to ‘blow off’ a big stack. Decide which type they are and act accordingly.
3. A-Z game player
Many reputedly ‘great’ players who have earned their reputations through dazzling displays of talent are also prone to being temperamental for whatever reason. For example, try to guess who ‘not only has a B game, but also a C, D, E, F, G and so on game’, and who ‘when he’s playing badly really stinks, making awful, borderline, amateurish decisions’. We wouldn’t want to embarrass them here, but the moral of the story is to know when a player is performing below par and look for the right way to take advantage of it.
4. On tilt player
Rather than just playing below par, this player is visibly off the rails, whether it’s down to alcohol, a bad beat or fear of the high stakes. The point is that they’re temporarily incapable of making good decisions, so when you have a hand, give them as many as possible to contend with and hope it pays off.
5. ABC player
Those who clearly play ‘by the book’ are more prevalent in limit games, where imagination is less valuable than solid maths. In these situations, this type of player is likely to be highly predictable in starting hands and the way they repeat certain patterns. Respect the seemingly obvious plays they make, and look for ways to exploit them by thinking and playing outside the box.
6. Instinct/maths player
Often split between the no-limit and limit camps, this player type clearly values one approach over another. The instinct player believes they can make almost psychic assessments of their opponents cards and future actions, while the maths player believes everything can be solved though complex analysis. If you know a player clearly relies on one of these approaches, then do your best to exploit their blind side.
7. Young gun
It’s often been said that as poker players grow old, they slow down a bit in terms of wildness and aggression, so bear the age of your opponent in mind when deciding whether to bluff or trap. For example, the young Scandinavian players are now famous for a hyper-aggressive relentless style, and knowing this could save you a few early bets.
The ‘action player’ is different from the bully or the loose-aggressive player in that they’re really just there for the thrill of the action. This player will likely give you the money in the end if you’re patient.
9. Recreational player
This type of player considers the money they lose as payment for entertainment or lessons, and should be treated with respect and made to feel part of the game so they continue to take part. That’s often the hard part for socially inept poker professionals, whereas figuring out ways to win against them is relatively easy, as they often don’t put up much of a fight.
This is the ultimate opponent, with no definable characteristics nor patterns other than constant change and adaptation to circumstances, and a deep and rounded knowledge of the game. Ask a top player a poker question and they’ll more often than not say: ‘It depends’. While this can be frustrating, it’s all too true.
The reason for this is that poker is a game of situations and players. If you know an opponent might be playing any number of styles at a given point, how can you come up with a strategy to defeat them? The chameleon is the type of player you should be aspiring to be, but avoid them in a hand unless you have good reason not to.