If you can quickly identify the
type of player you are up
against and their skill level you
can use this knowledge to alter
your playing style and
maximize your opportunities.

There are many types of Texas
Holdem Poker player, and, of
course, many levels of
experience between those
Identify Your Poker
Opponents To
Maximize Value
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Maximize Value at the Poker Table
Identify Your
Opponents to
Maximize Value at
the Texas Holdem
Poker Table
Texas Holdem Poker players have varying styles of play and different levels of
experience. If you can quickly identify the type of player you are up against
and their skill level you can use this knowledge to alter your playing style and
maximize your opportunities.

There are many types of Texas Holdem Poker player, and, of course, many
levels of experience between those players. Texas Holdem the card game is
similar to pushing spaghetti around a plate – some will get more, others will
get less and the house always takes a slice. The statistics of cards over time
dictate that we all have the same opportunities. The key to maximizing our
potential gains is to quickly identify your opponent type and skill level. If you
can correctly identify your opponent then you will be able to alter your
playing style to maximize your win, and just as significantly, minimize your

Let’s review the various playing styles that you will come across in an
average Texas Holdem Poker cash game. Players will either be:

• Rocks • Tight Players • Calling Stations • Maniacs

And within these styles you will find a range of aggression that goes from
passive to aggressive. What follows are some strategic hints and tips to help
you play against each form of poker player in an online environment.


Rocks are the most common type of Texas Holdem Player. They are the
easiest to beat and usually are inexperienced new players who think the
game revolves around the cards that are dealt. It’s also the most natural
playing style and so you will come across them regularly. These are the
people you should look to play against. Controlled aggression is the way to
proceed. Bet at these players when flops look ugly and they’ll most likely fold.
If they re-raise you in return, step aside and let them take the hand, coming
right back at them next round. A rock who has been sitting folding the last 20
hands, only to come out betting, is the easiest read of all. If you can’t see
them coming then I’d suggest you take up a different game.

Tight Players

Tight players are usually battle hardened. The difference between a tight
player and a rock is that they understand the need to come out more often,
with the occasional bluff here and there. More importantly they usually use
the time spent sitting out, to identify opponent characteristics in order to play
their weaknesses. The best of all players sit in this category – Tight
Aggressive No Limit Texas Holdem players need to be identified early on and
avoided at all cost. Find one and you should re-examine your table selection
(yes you should move table). Real life examples of this type of player would
be Howard Lederer and Erick Lindgren.

Calling Stations

Calling stations present an interesting playing style and are the second most
common type you’ll find in online poker. By definition fairly weak, these
players rarely take the initiative and thereby have to rely on the luck of
running up against an aggressive player while holding the nut or near nut
hand. More often than not these people will lose because they are:

1) Playing their cards and not their opponent 2) Have no initiative 3)
Regularly rely on card catching strategies

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that card catching is a bad idea in almost
any circumstances (except as part of a semi-bluff play).


Maniacs are a rare breed of player seldom seen in low limit or tournament
Texas Holdem Poker games. They have no fear of losing, indeed it’ll look like
they want to, and it is this that sets them apart from most players online
today. Difficult to play against, these opponents rely on your fear of losing
your stack to gain chips. Often seen with large chip stacks relative to the
table, Maniacs will bet large regularly, and whatever hand you choose to
play, it is likely that you will have to be prepared to go all-in with it. No card
catching against these opponents – if you try you will be punished.

The identification of Maniacs is easy, as is your assault on their playing style.
Clearly the weakness these players have is that they are susceptible to large
pocket pairs (AA, KK, QQ, even AK). The difficulty is that you will likely have to
wait a good number of cards before you get to play such a hand. Maniacs are
far from stupid (they often evolve in experience terms from Rocks or Calling
Stations that have read Doyle Brunson’s Super System books and
progressed from there. To hit them properly you have to either get lucky
early on with the big pair or play enough cards so you are not identified as a
waiting Rock (obviously you don’t want them to get out of your way when the
time is right).

If you beat an aggressive Maniac once, you’ll find they go on Tilt really easily,
which provides further opportunity for the brave. I recall hitting one for $800
from $200 in 3 hands because he went all-in 3 times in a row with no cards
at all. He incorrectly judged that I would fold rather than re-stake my entire
winnings on each of the next 2 poker hands. Fortunately for me they were
fairly solid starting hands in the circumstances but I can tell you it’s not easy
going all-in pre-flop for $500 with just King Jack. I’d be mad to do that in any
other circumstance but I felt I had a good read on the player type and his
hand which turned out to be 92 unsuited didn’t stand up.

Hopefully you’ll observe playing styles and look to pick off Rocks and Calling
Stations. If you come up against a tight (particularly Tight Aggressive) player,
with no other easy to beat players around, you should move on. I’ve been at
many tables where the poor players have lost and left, the good ones
remain, and one off those triggers the table’s break up by saying “no easy
money here, the only winner will be the rake, lets move on.” If you’ve not
had this said to you, or you’ve not made the statement yourself then
consider that you may be a fish.

Graham Easton is webmaster of www.texashold-empoker.com. He has a
track record in No-Limit Texas Holdem Poker Tournament play of 1 win, 4
second places and a 10th out of his last 20 large online tournaments in fields
ranging from 300-1500 players.
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