Different Types of Players

In the previous section, we gave the example of three players who heave a similar style but whose drives and motives, and hence their precise betting patterns, are very different. One of the first things you should try to determine is the type of opponent you are facing. Sometimes you can generate an idea before even playing a hand! The main way of determining the type of player you face is through analyzing his betting patterns, but you can also glean clues from other places such as:

Appearance - a player's age, appearance, and attire can give you an indication of the type of player he might be.

Mannerisms - How does he act at the table? Does he appear confident or nervous? Does he seem uncertain of the rules or protocols?

What He Says - Some players will give away huge clues about the type of player they are by what they say. This applies to both comments about the game and non-poker-related comments that give you a clue as to the type of person they might be.10

After a while, you will start to see players not only as the sum of their playing characteristics but as fully rounded people. You will begin to categorize them not only by how they play but also by how they think. In the last section, we observed three of these categories: the gambler, the

" Note that this is the only one of the three that is available to Internet players. Watch that chat box closely.

bully, and the speculative player. The following are some examples of the types of players you might meet at the poker table, along with tips on how to identify them and an idea of how they might play. This list is by no means exhaustive. After a while, you will star! to notice other stereotypes, too.

The newbie

New players will be trying to find their feet in the game. They will make the plays that they think are right, but these will not usually be based on conventional poker theory. Generally, they will play very loosely and passively because this is how most players instinctively like to play. New players will have a lot to take in, and so their play will usually lack imagination and deception. Their motives are to learn the game and have fun without losing too much money.

New players are usually quite easy to identify. They will often look confused and/or nervous and will probably have to ask the dealer a lot of questions. If you are in a casino in a tourist resort like Las Vegas or Los Angeles, you might notice tell-tale signs of a tourist wanting to "try out" poker, such as a camera or gift-shop bags.

The casual player

Casual players make up a large proportion of the poker-playing population, and so appearance-wise at least, they are difficult to stereotype. The best way to identify casual players is by their demeanor and playing style. They will know how to play the game and will not normally appear nervous. They play the game for fun, as evidenced by their words and actions.

The catch is that most casual players don't think they only play for fun. In fact, most of them will say they play for money. In reality, though, they are almost all long-term losers because they don't play the game the way it should be played. They want to win, but only on their terms. Like the newbies, casual players tend to play too loosely mid too passively, because that is the way they want to play.

The gambler

Gamblers play neither for fun nor to win in the classic sense (although both elements are a factor). They play because they enjoy the buzz of gambling; they want to get their money in the pot and then see if they've won. For this reason, they are nearly always loose, and often aggressive, too. They might or might not be deceptive.

Gamblers are generally very focused and single-minded while playing the game. When they run out of chips, they will often reload without skipping a beat. They don't tend to get mad when they lose, because they are used to it; deep down, winning isn't that important to them.

The rock

The rock is a pedestrian and predictable opponent. He will play in a very tight, passive, and straightforward style that allows him to lose his money very slowly or maybe even eek out a profit in certain games. If he raises, then he will nearly always have a very good hand.

Rocks play in a style that is not at all fun to play, but then again, they Usually aren't playing for fun. Most are playing either to pass the time (often the case with retired players) or to extract a small profit from ' game that contains a number of weak players. You can normally identify rocks as quiet players who blend into the background. In fact, you will hardly notice they are at the table at all. Even on the rare occasion when they enter a pot, they will normally do so timidly, with a limp.

The bully

The bully's main motivation is to be in charge of the table. He wants 'Z win, but more pressingly, he wants to play in a style that will make Other players fear him. His ego, rather than good poker sense, tends to make his decisions. Bullies generally play a loose, aggressive style, not only because this is the style most likely to intimidate other players, but also because it matches their personality somewhat.

Spotting the bully is quite easy. He is usually loud, often obnoxious, and will try to intimidate his opponents both with words and body language. When the bully loses a big pot, he will handle it badly, blaming his opponent's play, the dealer, the deck, or anything else in an attempt to heal his damaged ego.

The developing player

When a new player sets off on the road to becoming a winning player, he will usually go through several stages before he learns all the intricacies of the game. He is keen and pays close attention to the game, but his play is raw and he will make mistakes (and often beat himself up over them).

The developing player's game may go through a number of phases during this period, and so it can be difficult to predict how he will play. He will often get stuck in a tight-passive stage for a while, where he has learned to play tight but has not yet learned the full value of playing aggressively (or does not have the confidence to).

The speculative player

Speculative players play to win but do not have the discipline to play a tight-aggressive style, so they try to win with a loose-aggressive one instead. They can be quite dangerous to play against because they are difficult to put on a hand and generally play well post-flop. Sometimes they are winners, but often they cannot play well enough to overcome the trash hands they are starting with.

Speculative players are often the center of attention at the table — not because they want to be (unlike the bully), but because their style of play puts them in the thick of the action a lot. Some players will be scared of them, some scornful, while the better players will be trying to adapt their game to compensate. Speculative players are usually younger players.

The nit

The word "nit" has been used to describe a lot of different players over the years, but most commonly refers to a tight player who is generally unfriendly and pedantic. Nits are usually marginal winners Who are very careful about the games they play and will never leave their comfort zone. Although they are rarely big winners, they do play win rather than just for fun.

Nils are generally quite easy to identify. Sometimes they are quiet and sullen, while other times they take on the role of "table professor," Idling other players what they are doing wrong. They are often unable to adapt to loose-aggressive players and are uncomfortable 'n their presence. In many ways, nits resemble rocks, but they are not always passive and predictable, and are usually more concerned about things like game selection. Nits are usually disliked by the (her regular players.

The robot

Robots are winning players who play a generally good game of poker. They do not win as much as they could because they tend to play very mechanically, without paying as much attention to the game as they should. This is sometimes because they don't enjoy the game that much, sometimes because they are lazy, and sometimes because they treat poker more like a job and simply go through the motions.

Robots are extremely common online. They will often play up to eight tables at once, without really concentrating very hard on any of them individually. They can also be found in a live casino, where they will play quite well but look disinterested in the game. Robots tend to play a tight-aggressive style but can be fairly predictable. They rely on their superior hand selection and knowledge of the game to win money from weaker players.

198 The Poker Mindset: Essential Attitudes for Poker Success

Chapter 8 - Into the Minds of Your Opponents 199

The shark

The shark is a strong player who not only plays good poker but also Studies the particulars of the game he is in and adapts accordingly. The shark wants to make money, plain and simple. He probably enjoys the game, too, but his primary motivation is always making the decision that gives him the best expectation.

To spot a shark, look for a player playing calmly and confidently, usually with a tight-aggressive style.11 His opponents will envy, idolize, dislike, suck up to, and fear him in equal measure. Sometimes sharks go in disguise, though. They might deliberately style themselves to look like a new player, a casual player, or a gambler. If a player's appearance is telling you one tiling and his play is telling you another, always believe his play.12

Action Point: Think about some of your regular opponents. ! Try to determine in which of the above ten categories they each belong. Are there any players who seem to belong in I multiple categories or in none of them?

Not all players fall nicely within these ten categories. Sometimes you will meet players who seem to be a hybrid of more than one type. For example, you might meet a new player who lias good card instincts and plays more like a speculative player than a new player. Alternatively, you might play with a shark who acts like a bully toward his opponents. Sometimes you will meet a player who doesn't seem to fit into any of these categories at all.

The important tiling is not that you squeeze every opponent into a category, but that you think about what each player's motivations are. If you know why a player is playing and what he might be thinking, then this information can go a long way toward interpreting his actions and predicting future ones.13

Although, they may adopt a different style if the situation warrants it, such as in a short handed game.

Sharks play well, but not all of them fully embrace the Poker Mindset. You might find shark', who are good players but go on tilt easily or become obsessed with downswings. For more discussion on labeling players, we recommend The Psychology of Poker by Akin

Schoonmaker.

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