A Brief Explanation and Analysis of Four Common Poker Playing Styles

By Sarah Thomas
April 18, 2019

Whether it is a Texas Hold’em tournament at a Las Vegas casino, popular online slots games, or a high-stakes cash game at one of the top poker rooms online, you want to make sure you have the best strategy in place when playing in order to win money. Poker remains one of the most popular forms of real money gambling online, but playing is one thing; winning can be a whole other ball game without the right strategy.

The best poker players in the world each have their own unique playing habits and strategy. Generally speaking, however, you’ll find a few standard types of playing styles out there that we’ll briefly describe below.

poker playing styles

Tight Aggressive

This poker style is also known as TAG. It is considered to be the style of choice for the majority of winning players. The main attributes of this style include extremely selective starting hands. Bluffing is not really part of the strategy since only 18 to 25 percent of the hands are played. The aggressive approach kicks in once post-flop play begins. This approach favors betting and raising as opposed to checking and calling.

Loose Aggressive

The next winning style is referred to as LAG. More losing players are linked to this style. However, the ones that know how to perfect this strategy tend to win more than a typical player using the TAG style. The primary difference is playing far more hands pre-flop. The play rate for the LAG style increases to 23 to 30 percent on dealt hands. This will obviously lead to greater losses over the extended course of play. LAG is also tied to the aggressive approach to playing out the hand post-flop.


This third style reflects tightness. It is very similar to the TAG style, with an even more limited selection of played hands. The nit/rock is willing to wait things out until the cards fall their way in the pre-flop. This style has grown in popularity with the increased competitiveness built into online poker. That said, these types of players lack the overall skill set that many of the top poker players in the game possess. Another characteristic is the fear of losing money. Since their range of play is rather limited, the overall win rate with this style remains low. After all, it’s relatively easy to spot a rock, and thus avoid tangling with such a player if they start making moves.


Poker players adopting this style have been described as hyper-aggressive LAG. With a much higher pre-flop play rate and a highly aggressive trait of betting and raising post-flop, these players have a tendency to both win big and lose big. The true maniac will play more than 30 percent of their dealt hands. This range can even go as high as 50 percent! This is why this style results in far more losses. It is hard to find a maniac who can win at poker over long-term play.


It’s thought that the best style of the four is TAG, as it offers the best balance between overall profitability tied to a higher level of playing skill. The LAG style can actually create a higher win rate, of course, but the risk/reward factor is highly elevated. The maniac style is the most interesting, but to be successful it takes a very high level of poker playing skill. At the end of the day, you need to select the style that best fits your personality, and also be prepared to mix things up a little. Knowing how to identify the styles of other players at the table is a critical skill, too.



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Sarah Thomas poker author
Written By.

Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas is a content writer for entertainment websites. In her free time she enjoys playing all sorts of games, both live and online.


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