The Best Online Poker Styles that Win Real Money
Anyone who’s played online poker games can tell you that not every player in a virtual casino uses the same style.
Some seem to bet all the time, no matter what they have.
Others seem to wait an eternity for the perfect cards to come around, and even then are content with a tiny pot.
And there’s plenty of playstyles in between.
In this guide, we’ll go through the different characteristics of each kind of player, and talk about the pros and cons of each way to play real online poker.
Let’s first cover terminology:
“Tight” or “loose”
Tight or loose refers to how choosy a player is when it comes to the cards they will play within their games. A tight player wants premium starting cards (like aces) and is mucking the rest. A loose player takes a look at Q8o (Queen eight offsuit) in early position (i.e. early to act in each round of betting) and thinks, “Let’s see what comes next. I’m in!”
Passive or aggressive
These terms refer to how much money a player will bet and raise and how frequently they will do it in games. Passive players are known for being check machines, always tapping the virtual felt and hoping not to face too much of a challenge in a hand.
Aggressive players, on the other hand, bet whenever they smell weakness. As a bonus, very aggressive players bet even when they smell strength, just to see if they can push those players around too. Aggressive players want to control the table and be in the lead in each hand they play. Check to them and they’ll most likely be betting. Bet to them and they’ll often consider a raise.
These player personalities combine to form four major playstyles. Which style will win the most money? Read on and find out!
Tight Passive, or Getting Blinded to Death
Even free online poker can sometimes cause a player in the game to sit back and wait for a big hand to come along. If you’ve memorized the starting standards chart and treat it like the Holy Gospel, only playing hands approved by the almighty chart, you might be a tight player. If you see ATs in mid-late position and see that it’s one spot below playable on the chart, you’ll fold those cards 100% of the time.
Passivity further compounds the issues of this play style and the possible bankroll consequences in real online poker at Ignition Casino. Not only are you waiting for perfect cards, but you’re limping along with small bets when you do, or tiny raises. Big bets and raises are out of your skillset, so you’re missing a lot of bonus cash when serious moves are justified.
- TP Pros. Your cards are often the best in the hand, statistically. And when you’re drawing, it’s to the nuts or near it. When you have top pair, you’ve usually got a great kicker. Among all players at poker sites and rooms online, you’re sticking to the highest standards.
- TP Cons. You won’t get paid enough money in your games when you have a winning hand. Many other players will have read your style and will head for the hills when you finally wake up with a hand. They’ll also correctly put you on premium cards and try to hang around for surprising draws. If their pair of threes flops into a set, they know that you’re going to pay them with your aces or kings over. Even the best online poker software can’t save you from those “bad beats.”
Loose Passive, or Hunting for a Hand
This is the online poker strategy that’s the most like casino gambling. Instead of sticking to cards and hands that are statistically likely to win a showdown, you’ve got two cards and you want to see if the flop hits. But the problem is, because you’re passive, you’re not going to get paid well. Other players stay well away from passive players that suddenly start betting.
- LP Pros. You could showdown with anything. What you hold in your hand is very hard to read preflop. This means other players in the game that are attentive have to be somewhat cautious. No matter what kind of board comes out on the flop, it could hit you. As a bonus, if you manage to get chips in somehow, you could be in for surprising paydays after the river.
- LP Cons. You’re tossing away tons of money on losing hands, which is not the way to win your games in real online poker (or free online poker, for that matter). You also aren’t betting and raising enough to get paid when you finally do land a hand.
Tight Aggressive (TAG), or Making Good Hands Pay
The tight aggressive style of playing online poker games reveals a player that is selective, but who knows when to push on the gas. These players are usually playing the best online poker software while waiting for decent new hands to come around, but they don’t let the rest of the table skate by. Instead, if they have top pair, they’re betting it. If they have the goods, they’re raising. These players make their hands pay and tax others heavily if they want to come along with a draw. In fact, these are the poster players at the casino for ensuring that you never give an opponent favorable pot odds.
- TAG Pros. You usually hold decent cards in your games that are statistically favored at most showdowns. You have a high expected value in hands just based on that. But by pairing this with aggression, the bonus is that you’re also making it hard for other players to suck out a hand on you. You get the goods and you make it pay. It’s a pretty decent strategy for winning real online poker.
- TAG Cons. Your hands are rarely surprising to the other players at the poker rooms and sites you visit. Opponents are used to you having the goods and may learn to avoid your hands and protect their cash. They also can anticipate that you won’t let them slide, so they may bet more themselves and put you to more difficult decisions. Lastly, you’re quite susceptible to traps. Getting check-raised is a way of life for the tight aggressive online poker player.
Loose Aggressive (LAG), or How to Wildly Bully a Table
This is a real online poker strategy that causes a lot of people to pull their hair out. The loose aggressive player might get and play any two cards in any position. And they might bet or raise whether the flop hit them or not. How, oh how do we play against these wild cards?
- LAG Pros. You can hit any flop and are often unreadable. When you hit a hand, you will puzzle other players and may pull in some callers when you have the goods. They will never be quite sure whether you’re on your usual nonsense of betting anything and everything, or whether luck smiled on you and the best online poker software blessed you with a real hand for a change.
- LAG Cons. Playing every new hand in a game is expensive, costing you a lot of cash, especially when other players hold their cards and aren’t scared of your aggression. A lot of bets and raises will come out of your stack and never come back, which isn’t a way to win whether you’re playing free online poker or not. You also will often be drawn into hands that you don’t belong in – getting outkicked, holding second-best pairs, and chasing draws with poor pot odds. This is a fast way to go broke.
What is the Best Style for You?
This is really a trick question. You don’t want to adopt a single style and stick with it rain or shine in every game when playing real online poker. Instead, you need to be able to play ALL the styles and shift towards the one that will win you cash at a given table or in a given poker game. When you’re playing the best online poker software, you’re going to encounter players of all kinds. Your mission is to read a new table and figure out how to win.
Try leaning on other players with raises from late position. Do they hold on, play back, and show strength a few times? Now you know the table won’t be bullied. Do they fold? Good, keep up the aggression.
See some showdowns and keep an eye on what other players flip over. Was a player taking a bluff to the river? Be ready for wild aggression and consider standing your ground. Are people usually holding the goods? Open up your range a bit and give their bets high credibility.
As you can see, each online poker game has a way to win. You just need to bring the best of each style to become the enlightened winner we know you can be.