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Playing styles

Tactical thinking and hard-headed calculations are key to poker, however this does not mean that personality does not also influence the game. As you play more, you will come to identify different styles of play by the way people bet, raise and fold. Being able to identify these styles in others and in yourself is crucial to success.

Here are the three key poker-playing styles. Click on each to find out more:

Playing tight means keeping a tight control on the number of hands you play, or playing very few hands. This is because it is estimated that only about 10%-25% of all poker hands are actually worth playing. However, within the category of tight play there is a spectrum that ranges from aggressive to passive that you need to understand.

If you play too many hands, you are playing loose with your stack. As with tight play, your style of betting determines what sort of a loose player you are. People who tend to play too many hands, but also bet strongly are known as loose-aggressive players, while those who play too many and don't back up their play with strong betting are loose-passive players. We explain how to take on – and beat – both styles.

Maniacs are the jokers or wild cards of the pack. These players play very loose indeed but unlike loose-aggressives who bet strongly and (hopefully) sensibly, maniacs ramp up the bets in rather uncontrolled and ill-considered fashion. How’s how to make sense of the mayhem.