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Poker Playing Styles

There are endless amounts of ways in which a game of poker can be approached. From your budget to your desired level of excitement, the factors by which your approach is determined can vary greatly. The most common, however, is your betting amount and frequency, which aggressive and passive poker playing styles are based on. Aggressive poker players are those who spend most of the game betting and raising their hands, whereas passive poker players are those who spend its majority checking and calling hands (for more ways to spot weak players read Poker Fish Tales).

While there is no one successful style for playing poker, aggressive play is more often than not superior to passive play. This is because aggressive poker players also aim to make money with weak hands (unlike passive players), which can make their style deceptive; not only can aggressive players bluff their way through the game despite holding weak hands, yet they can also play a very strong hand without being too obvious about it.

In nature, the aggressive poker player is daring and spontaneous, and this stands in stark contrast with passive players, who are careful, cautious and take their time in making decisions (but overly passive poker players are considered fish). Being opposites, sometimes the best way to tackle the aggressive style is by playing passively. This is because a passive player will play a strong poker hand in the same calm manner that he/she would a weak one, such that the aggressive player is more open to making mistakes and losing the hand.

Many world famous poker players have tried to make clear when it is appropriate to use each kind of playing style. According to poker theorists such as legendary champion Doyle Brunson, aggression at the poker table can be a very important tool, especially when a strong starting hand is drawn. This is due to the fact that aggression increases throughout the poker game, so when a player wins, he/she is awarded a much greater pot win. In addition, if other players at the table can be convinced that the aggressive player will pursue weak hands as well, they themselves will be more likely to bet larger amounts throughout the remainder of the game.

At the same time, by using one of these styles exclusively, the player can also create an element of predictability, which is regarded as far worse than a less successful playing style. For example, an aggressive player that pursues too many weak hands (otherwise known as a maniac..) can be called by other players easily and thus, taken advantage of.

Passive poker play can be a useful technique for intimidating one’s opponents, since it is unlikely that a player who has been checked and raised throughout the duration of game will make an attempt to steal the pot. Yet Brunson believes that passive play should not be used often in no-limit poker games, for if it fails, free cards might be exposed to your opponents. Overall, choosing between an aggressive and passive poker playing style is just a matter of character.