Does your poker game have a perceivably passive or aggressive personality?
We’ve been talking recently about identifiable player types; labels that make others easier to read and exploit. Yesterday’s segment, entitled Get a Grip on Poker, deals with the difference between loose and tight play, and the hand range equated to each.
Today, we’re going to talk about another pair of polar opposites—passivity and aggression. The way a player reacts to different situations, in terms of betting, determines their level of passive/aggressive behavior—or what I like to call, their poker personality.
In everyday life, having personality is a good thing. We generally consider a person with a palpable personality to be more interesting, whereas someone with a vague, undefinable personality appears strange, off-putting, or perhaps boring. In the poker world, lack of personality may not gain you any friendships, but it can do wonders for your bankroll.
Poker Personality – Passive vs. Aggressive
While loose and tight behavior profiles what hand range a player may be willing to move forward with, passivity and aggression define how a player bets when dealt a hand within their approved range.
Passive Poker Player: This player is not going to bet more than he has to. Check, limp and call are his primary weapons, rarely pulling a raise out of his bag pre- or post-flop. It’s not that this player is afraid to pull the trigger. It’s that they’re trying to gain value, keeping the pot low so as not to scare off potential followers.
The passive player rarely bluffs. If this player has a loose hand range, they may continue to call other passive players with junk, not because they’re bluffing, but because they think they can catch a lucky break on the turn or river. When a tight player makes passive bets, beware. They don’t believe they can be beaten, and are looking solely for added value.
Aggressive Poker Player: This player knows what he wants, and isn’t afraid to take risks to get it. They will make larger bets and raises, scaling from 2x BB up to 2x pot size. Overbets are their greatest weapon, enforcing their superiority with a ferocity that scares all but the bravest players—holding the greatest hands—away from the pot.
An aggressive player may or may not bluff, depending on his grip. A loose-aggressive player never really bluffs. Or, you could say they always bluff. They move on with far too many bad hands. This is the worst type of poker player, because they will get called by smarter players eventually. When that happens, their luck won’t keep them afloat for long.
A tight-aggressive poker player, on the other hand, is considered the classic model of a successful pro. This player will only move forward with a premium hand, and isn’t going to let any limpers get a cheap ride to the river, where a lucky draw could win them the pot. When this player becomes active, you better have the goods if you intend to call. They might be bluffing—they do on rare occasion—but without the goods, it’s not worth the risk to find out.
How’s Your Poker Personality?
Think about what you’ve just read. Now, think about yourself as a poker player. What kind of personality column do you fall into? Are you passive or aggressive? Are you playing too many hands, or just enough? Would you consider yourself loose-passive, loose-aggressive, tight-passive, or tight-aggressive?
If you were able to easily identify yourself as one of these poker player types, consider how easy it will be for other players to label you the same? Yes, a tight-aggressive stance is considered the best way to play, but not 100% of the time. Being unreadable is more important than being mathematically maniacal.
Consider mixing things up a bit more. There’s a lot of quality in a good tight-passive approach. Mingle that with the right amount of tight-aggressive play, and just a smidgen of loose-handed bluffing, and you’ll be the enigmatic mystery-meat of the table.
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