See also Poker Playing Styles (Part II)
Most players, especially most players in the relatively low stakes version of no limit hold'em that you're likely to be in, will fit into very few broad categories. These categories will be invaluable when it comes to figuring out what their likely holdings are. Use four basic categories into which you should place each opponent. And then remember into which category you've placed them.
We'll give you the four very basic categories and a brief description of each. Feel free to tailor and expand this list as you develop experience categorizing your opponents. But start with these.
Clueless: really a rank beginner who doesn't understand the nature of no limit. Their moves are likely to mean anything at all. They don't understand pot odds, bluffing, or any sort of basic strategy. They don't really understand the relative value of starting hands. They are often transparent, though the fact that they are honestly happy about their hand doesn't necessary mean that there hand is really very strong.
Timid: someone who understands the basics but is so afraid of losing that they will frequently fold to any pressure. They are disinclined to be aggressive. So if they bet strongly then they probably have a very strong hand. They don't mix up their play and rarely fold, though they may overplay their hand in desperation, especially if they are pot committed.
Wild: someone who plays aggressively with a wide variety of hands. These players may go all in with any two cards. Their raises don't necessarily indicate strength, though they're unlikely to call large raises without strong hands.
Solid: a player who sticks pretty close to conventional play, playing strong hands strongly, calling with hands when they are being offered proper pot odds to do so, and occasionally, though not indiscriminately, throwing in a bluff - especially if the betting action of his opponent indicates weakness.
For this article, don't think about how to exploit these players; just concentrate on typing them and then remembering their type for future reference. You can work on this during the frequent times when you are not in the hand. Remember, roughly, if they tend to fold a lot. Observe the hands they show down and try to recreate in your mind their betting decisions.
- If they raised with junk then they are probably a wild player.
- If they fold repeatedly after calling the pre-flop bets then they are probably timid.
- If they really don't seem to know what they are doing then they are clueless.
- And if they seem to be selectively aggressive then they are solid.
Of course, this system is very basic and could be improved with many different sub-categories. But for now, keep it simple and learn to put people into these basic categories.