There are really three type of players (too tight, too loose, tough- good). You need to see if you can identify your opponents playing style and experience level. If you can’t identify them clearly – then don’t sweat it. In time, their play should become apparent and you will at least have a general feel for their style of play.
There are some specific ways you can try to discern their style:
Take note of what he does when you raise 3BB. – if he folds most of the time – he’s probably tight.
Take note of what he does when you call his blind – if he mostly checks he’s playing tight. If he seems to reraise you almost all the time, he’s loose.
If he pushes allin a lot he’s loose. This is another big give away. Especially if he gets to a point where all he does is go allin – stops raising all together.
After the flop, comes go ahead and check to him. If he bets almost every time you do this, he’s playing loose. If he usually checks back, he’s tight.
If you make a hand, go ahead and check after the flop. If he bets, reraise him. If he folds, you know he likes to bluff after the flop – loose. If he doesn’t ever bet into you (you can never check raise) you know he’s playing tight. This is a big dead give away. Your check raises never work. He just checks and a new card comes.
It can be very hard to gauge how a player is playing. But you must try. This is a key to being a consistent / winning heads up player.
Apply what you’ve learned
After some time, you should be starting to get a feel for how your opponent plays. Many players will play a basic tight game. These are the easiest to beat. Others will play too loose. These are tougher but still easy enough to beat. The last kind is a pro – these are tough to beat. They mix it up. You never realy know where they are at.
Playing against “too tight” players heads up
You’ll know your opponent is too tight, because he will never be caught bluffing against you. Anytime you see his hand, he always has a decent one.
If you bet, he will fold about 70% of the time. The times he does call, he plays the hand strong. If you do a small reraise – you can see what he has on occasion. He’ll bet after the flop and you can reraise a small amount. He will call and then check it down. He’ll flip over top pair and you’ll loose with your garbage.
If you raise all-in he will rarely call you. In fact, you could do it 5 times in a row and he won’t call. When he does call he has AT+ or pocket pair .
To beat a tight player its actually fairly easy. Here’s what you do:
Play the basic heads up strategy from the head up probe stage. After the flop, always make a small bet to steal the pot. See as many flops as you can. If you flop the top pair – slow play it – hoping to trap him with a weak kicker or perhaps middle pair. Since he’s tight, your best bet is to put pressure on him by going all-in with any raising hand. He should fold most of the time. Play aggressive – as blinds continue to grow, keep the all-ins coming. He will be reluctant to call your all-ins unless he has a very nice starting hand.
When he does bet – you believe him. Fold if he does a big reraise after the flop.
Play basic poker and believe his bets. When you have decent starting hands as defined in the probe section, you will be going all-in. Once the blinds hit about 1200/600, you will go all-in every hand from the SB.
Playing against “too loose” players heads up
It should be obvious your opponent is too loose when he goes all-in way too often. He will do this almost all the time as blinds increase. If you call the BB from the SB, like clock work – he’ll reraise all-in.
The key to beating these players is to wait for a decent hand and then instead of raising – just check and then reraise all in when he raises you. You need to trap them. They will steal lots of your blinds, but
one decent reraise all-in will get them all back. So don’t sweat it if he’s stealing a couple of your blinds.
The best way to deal with a loose player – is to push all-in anytime you have a top 30% hand. If you have a premium hand AQ+, TT+, you try to trap him by checking and letting him raise you. Many times its quite amazing how often people will actually take the bait. Set a trap and catch him off guard.
Also – remember that typically what this person is doing, is going all-in with pretty much any single face card. Remember this -since you can call with Any two face cards – hopefully you’ll have him dominated when you do call his all-in finally!