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Different Styles of Play in Poker

There are several different playing styles that can be successfully used in poker. The most common and trendy style is TAG (tight aggressive), though some players are much better using a LAG (loose aggressive) strategy. These are two of the more common playing style variations, but they are hardly the only ways to play the game.

Any style of play can theoretically generate a profit; it is all in how you execute. A lot of players decide that they are going to play poker according to this style or that style, but it really doesn’t work this way at all. There are a number of very fine dynamics that come together in order to form an ideal strategy. Often times it will be near impossible to determining whether a playing is more likely to be a TAG or a LAG.

Without ample sample sizes and/or a lot of history, there is no easy way to pinpoint the playing style of choice for any given player. It is not so much important that you know how you play, but that you instead play that style well. Your approach to poker should more or less form itself. There is minimal value in trying to adopt a strategy. The more optimal way to play poker is to find out what works best for you and to let the rest fall into place.

As mentioned previously, LAG and TAG are the two most popular ways to play poker. The problem with using styles, however, is that they do not have a defined set of rules. It can cause a lot of problems for you if you are pinning a certain player as a TAG but do not really know that to be true. There are a handful of common characteristics that can aid in defining the style of a particular player, but they are merely a guide.

If you are unable to spend a lot of time observing how someone plays on a consistent basis, there is a good shot you will think that they are something they are not. A common mistake players make is seeing a few aggressive plays by someone, in addition to moderately reckless behavior, and instantly assuming they play loose aggressive. The reality is that a few hands will never tell you anything, whether it relates to your play or someone else’s play.

TAG Poker

TAG poker is the strategy that has the highest success rate. If you take a look at some of the biggest winners in the poker world, you are going to find that they are TAG players. A few examples of TAG players would include Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, and Patrik Antonius. Now, it might seem as though this group of players is generally more looser than might be normal, but that is not the case for the limits and games that they play.

This brings up a vital element when it comes to playing styles. A TAG player in one limit could equate to a LAG player at another limit. It is helpful to remember, especially when changing limits, what the typical play looks like. If you are in games where everyone folds 90% of the time, opening with AJ could very well be the most reckless thing to happen to that table, even if the play is perfectly fine. Always coordinate your playing style with your game/stakes.

TAG players can identify with a handful of common traits:

  1. First, TAG players prefer to go after quality rather than quantity. Where a LAG player will chase after a ton of smaller pots, TAG players will do the same, but they won’t fight for pots where they clearly have no spot. TAG players will typically pick and choose their spots very carefully.
  2. In addition to being selective in the hands that they play, TAG players will always go in for the kill.

This is what makes up the two primary factors in a TAG player, selectiveness and aggressiveness. TAG play can be boring at times when waiting around for playable hands, but it is also quite profitable when implemented correctly.

LAG Poker

LAG players tend to go out of their way to get into pots. These players do not have a fear of losing pots and would rather be in the battle than watching on the sidelines. There is a very thin line between LAG and completely reckless, though, and sometimes it can be a challenge to tell the difference.

A LAG player should have a lot of confidence in their abilities along with a fair amount of experience. If you try to play loose and aggressive but don’t know what you are doing, you better get ready for a wild ride. LAG players go on big swings even when they know how to play profitably, so you can only imagine how much money can and will be lost if an amateur decides to adopt the LAG style without warrant.

More General Poker Strategy
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