Whether you play online or in B&M (brick & mortar) poker rooms, you should realize and accept what type of player you are.
Players shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed because of the player type slot they fit into. Every person on the planet is different, that is what makes the world such an interesting place. Just think how boring life would be if we were all the same…we held the same job, lived in identical houses, all drove the same car, wore the same clothes…and played poker just like everyone else at the table. Not only would this sameness be unbearably boring, it also wouldn’t make poker profitable, especially if every player was an average to good player.
Unfortunately many players think it is a badge of shame to admit they are not a good player, one who always plays their best. The fact is there are many more bad players than good ones, both online and live. So if you are not in the good to very good category, you are in good company… the poker playing majority.
Knowing which type of player you are can actually help your game, especially your mental attitude about the whole playing experience.
Someone who tries to convince themselves they play good when they don’t, will be beating themselves up mentally about losing, sometimes falling into depression and even taking out their anger on other players. Poker should be fun, and admitting to yourself that you are a certain type of player will keep the game fun and in prospective for you. Know your “type” and you will be able enjoy playing poker, instead of trying to be something you are not and being miserable.
The Rookie: This is the new player who has not played before, or played very little. Most Rookies freely admit they are in the learning stages and many ask for advice and accept it gratefully. The Rookie who takes notes, pays attention, wants to learn and asks for tips, is the good player of tomorrow. Not all Rookies want advice however and take offense if you offer it, these are the players the rest of us will make money from, because they have no will to ever be a good player. These rookies will advance to the next stage and most likely stay there forever.
The Loose Recreational Player: This is the category where the majority of players fit in. They play for fun and allow so much money a month for their poker entertainment, but usually lose more than they have. Many times they find the money to play on by dipping into the bill money, or using credit cards.
The loose player doesn’t care about hand selection or position and plays any two cards they like, usually playing to the river hoping for a miracle card. These players will put the worst beats on a good player and get a thrill out of hitting the one outer, even though they have no clue they are drawing to one card in the deck. These players have an overly vivid imagination; they can imagine making a hand the good player can’t even fathom. They will play hands like for a raise, then call when you bet you’re when the flop is .
Then the miracle happens and they make a runner-runner flush, stuffing your top two pair. A good player doesn’t even see the possibility of a flush because he/she doesn’t think in terms of needing two perfect cards to make a hand. Loose players hope to pick up a draw on the turn and a miracle on the river, many times not even knowing they are drawing dead.
These types of loose plays are why they are called; Donks, Donkeys, Fish Live-Ones, human ATM machines, Luck Buckets. Mr. Auto-call…and many more. These loosey- goosey’s can be found in any limit, they have no patience, boredom is something they hate and they must be in the action, playing every hand. If you look at the other games in the PokerStars lobby, you usually find these players multi-tabling (playing several games at once); they are deep in action at all times.
A few of them at your table can be very good for your bankroll, too many of them and the game becomes a crap shoot, making it very hard for you to win with your good hands. Beware when playing in anything but a small stakes game with them; they can seriously hurt your chip stack when they get lucky. Some of these players get sick of losing eventually and work to move up and play better, but many never do.
The Recreational Player can also be either an average, good, or very good poker player.
The Average Player doesn’t take risks for a miracle hand very often. They know the basic value of position and hand selection, although they don’t use this knowledge on a regular basis. The average player has better bankroll management, but still has a tendency to go over their poker budget. They tend to play more hands than they should, but do know where the “fold” button is and use it when they miss.
Usually they have a job and set aside time to play, just like they would plan to go play a game of golf. They play several times a week, but not normally for long sessions at a time unless it is a week-end or day off work. Many of them watch poker on TV, so unfortunately they think they know more than they really do. Whatever their playing style, they stick to it and don’t know how to back-off or change gears if things go sour. The average player most likely will learn, improve their game and advance to being a good player. Many however don’t have the desire or time to invest to improve their game, or they think their play is already good enough.
The Good Recreational player is the one who is most likely to move up the ladder to being a very good solid player. They play for fun but don’t like to lose, may change games if losing, or fall in the “have to get even” mode. Trying to get even, get their chips back or book a win can throw off their normal good game and judgment. When they get drawn out on they have a tendency to go on tilt and try to push their luck, trying to force a win. These players understand the basics of pot odds, regularly play position, and practice good hand selection. They can be found playing beyond what their bankroll warrants because they think they are good enough to play a bigger limit game. Aggression is something they use even if they don’t have the hand to back it up.
The Very Good Recreational Player is the type of player you will find very few of at your table.
These are the disciplined players who rarely play non-premium starting hands out of position, never criticize or demean other players, polite when spoken to and continually play a solid game. They know how to bluff in the right position, take advantage of being on the button when they have a hand to back it up and play within their means. Rarely do they go on tilt and if they do, it doesn’t last long, as they usually quit or change gears and wait for the storm of bad luck to pass. Some of them keep records of their wins/loses and other stats on their play. Occasionally they move up in limits, but if they don’t do well they move back down.
They may play tournaments and will eventually win a few by sticking to their solid game plan. If they are having a bad run of cards, they don’t play for a few days or even weeks, to give themselves time to get back in shape mentally before going back to the game.
The Very Good Recreational Player knows how to quit a game, whether they are ahead or behind, because they understand playing winning poker is not judged by one single game, but rather a never ending session.
Losing the battle but ultimately winning the war is their goal, to be a consistent winner over time is what matters, not a loss in one game.
They also learn something new every time they play, are open to advice and continually working to improve their game. This type of player is the one to watch out for; if they are in a pot, they have something and the odds are it is by far the best hand. Many are very aggressive, raising on the button no matter what they have and trying to be a “poker bully” to steal pots.
The last player type I will focus on is the Very Good Player. This player does enjoy or even love the game of poker, but winning is the joy, and losing is no fun at all. While most players don’t think losing is fun, most of us do understand we can’t win all the time and take it in stride. Many of these type players let ego get in their way of good judgment and fall into the tilt trap, when they think “How can that guy with junk beat me and my AA?” Needless to say, he doesn’t take being sucked out on by an inferior hand very well.
If they are a very good player, they will keep quiet and take the beat, realizing the next hand that their best starters may turn out to be the best on the river as well. If they let their ego get the better of them, they go on tilt. Even the best players in the world can tilt. What sets a very good player apart is if they realize it and do something about it before committing chip stack suicide.
The very good player is more apt to play for money, meaning they are earning extra income from playing. They use good bankroll management, keep records, and choose the games they play in carefully. Like the good recreational player they use position and hand selection, but have the ability to change gears and mix up their play better so their opponents have a hard time figuring out their play. They can appear to be a loose player, but in fact are very solid, being aggressive in select hands in the right situation. You will rarely see them chat at a table but the best ones are polite when they do talk, are never offensive, and never insult the loose players.
This is the player who folds more hands than the rest of the table combined and is a year in, and year out, consistent winner.
There are other player types of course, such as excellent, professional and whatever else you choose to call them. But these types are usually found in the bigger games that most players don’t play on a regular basis.
For the most part, all players share some of the same characteristics and style of play, no matter what type player they are. Very good players can play bad, very bad players can play good. Just because you are a good, above average player, doesn’t mean you won’t ever play a bad hand, play a hand out of position, or flat out play a hand badly. The difference is, do you keep doing it or do you learn from your mistakes and use them to improve your game? If you are a learner, you are moving up the player type ladder, another rung with every game you play in.
And what if you aren’t moving up? That is okay too, just come to terms with why and how you play so you can fully enjoy the game. There is nothing wrong with any style of play, whether you are loose, tight or somewhere in between. There is no right or wrong way for YOU to play. It is your chips, your money, your game and your time.
One thing I believe about player types is that attitude, not how they play, ultimately determines if a player is a really good poker player or not.
You can be considered the best player in the world, but if you are an offensive jerk, you will never be considered good in my book. It takes more than just applied poker knowledge to be a good player. It takes heart, patience, understanding, a true love of the game and most important, and a pleasant friendly attitude. The unique ability to make the game enjoyable not only for yourself, but for the other players as well, is what makes ANY player a great player.
We all get irritated by the suck outs, being drawn out on, getting Aces cracked and losing to the “Donk’s” 7-2 off suit junk when he hits those miracle turn & river cards…the question is are you a good enough player to handle it the way you should? This is the mark of the great player…a positive and good attitude.
My philosophy on how players play is, “It is your chips, you paid for them so you can play them any way you want. If I buy them for you, THEN I will tell you how to play them!” It works for me, try it, it may improve your poker attitude.
Download a poker game, no matter what player type you are, they have a game suited to you and your unique style.
Grab a chair…see you there!