Next there is the difference between loose and tight players. A loose player is a person that puts money into the pot too much and a tight person is someone who puts money into the pot too little (with “solid” being somewhere in the middle). Again this trait will vary greatly from street to street and in degrees so you will need details – to play HU and know that your opponent is simply “tight” or “loose” is far from sufficient. There are no tricks to getting the an‐ swer here – the best thing to do is directly observe. When he is faced with a decision, does he put money into the pot (with either a raise or a call) or does he fold?
Aggressive vs. passive
Finally there is the difference between a player who is aggressive and one who is passive. When the opponent does decide to put money into the pot, is he doing it with a raise or a call? Being too aggressive or too passive are both leaks. However in competitive games being aggressive is almost always favored. Advice in chess, soccer, or racing is generally to play aggressively. It just happens to work out better if you are putting pressure on the opponent, show‐ ing confidence, going for the win yourself and taking the initiative.
Before talking about adjustments to take advantage and exploit the specific tendencies of opponents, consider how you should play poker in a void – mathematically correct poker. The right way is straightforward, just playing your strong hands strongly and weak hands weakly. If you have a strong hand bet and raise, if you have a weak hand fold or call. From there, as your opponent sees how you play, adjust. Furthermore as you see how your opponent plays – you should adjust.
As you discover information about your opponent, consciously ask yourself how you should adjust. If he is a skilled player the main ad‐ justment to make is to give him respect. You cannot play against him in marginal situations because the decisions will be tough and he can trick you into making the wrong choices. A good player will just play too well, so a lot of spots that were profitable versus poor opponents will change from being profitable to costing money. So the main adjustment to make is to tighten up.
Additionally, versus a skilled player you will have to play more ag‐ gressively. Versus a bad player it can be advantageous to play more passively some of the time. The basis for this is that you can outplay a bad player and want as many opportunities to do so as possible on as many streets as possible. So it would be okay to play more pas‐ sively versus a bad player to draw out the hand and get as many chances as possible to outplay him. If you do this versus a good player it is the opposite of what you want as now he’ll outplay you.
If your opponent is tight pre‐flop then you should adjust by raising a lot. But then when he calls you know his hand range is small and strong, so be less inclined to bluff the flop. But if a player is loose pre‐flop then you should be more inclined to bet the flop because their hand range is wide and weak so on the flop they probably don’t have anything.
One difference is that with a passive player you don’t have to force the action – you can take your time and slowly grind away so there is no variance. But versus an aggressive player you have to gamble with your stack (this becomes more true the better the player is) and maybe the math of just how many times he has bluffed in the past says you have to do something other than fold.
Similarly, if he folds a lot on the river to big bets, then make more river bluffs than you normally would (and additionally feel free to put yourself in those positions more often with more liberal turn bets and raises) and conversely if you have a strong hand bet small on the river.
When betting the flop consider how often the opponent calls pre‐ flop. If the opponent folds a lot pre‐flop realize that this is where your profit comes from. Against that opponent you can auto‐raise pre‐flop and then just keep taking his blinds and make a handy profit. When he calls (which will be relatively rarely) he’ll have a good hand so don’t usually bluff the flop against him as he is now more likely to have something decent. But against a player who calls too much pre‐flop you are not going to win money by stealing the blinds. You are going to win money by value betting your better hands and/or bluffing the flop against him. Since he calls so much pre‐flop, his holdings will be fairly weak, thus you can bluff him off his hand on the flop more often.