I have a friend who plays in our regular home games who is a rock.  I mean he is tight…super tight.  Think of a joke involving tight, and the virgin mother’s nether regions, and we’re at least starting to get close to just how rigid this bloke is with his hand selection.  Now, I sometimes get called a rock, but that’s just fine with me.  I always enjoy making a point of bluffing the name caller out of a key pot during the game, and I try not to be too smug about the fact that they walk away believing they made a brilliant laydown.  The thing is though, whilst playing tight aggressive poker might be a good starting frame of reference, not having the ability to change gears when the situation demands it can be a loosing proposition.

When it comes to playing a game of Texas Hold Em poker, there is no single poker tournament formula that is guaranteed to bring winnings for a player. 

There are different playing styles and strategies that can be used to win the game.  All these of course depend on the amount of chips a player has as well as those of his opponents, his playing style, and his opponents’ playing styles.  Winning a Texas Hold Em poker tournament often necessitates employing a variety of playing styles and strategies at different points in the game.  This often depends on the general playing style dominant at the table.  No doubt we’ve all heard the general advise to play tight at a loose table and loose at a tight table.   Playing different styles can be advantageous in that it makes our game less predictable for our opponents to read.  For this reason alone it’s a good Texas poker strategy to play different styles as the game progresses.

So what are some of the styles we can employ?

1.Loose aggressive

This style works well in tournaments where chip accumulation is key, and where in later levels blind stealing can become pivotal to survival.  Hand selection is still relevant but loose aggressive players are more inclined to play situational poker rather than their hole cards. So how do we deal with these sorts of players?  It’s tempting to play back. Let’s face it, you have someone beating down on you hand after hand, it’s only natural to want to fight back.  Unfortunately, unless we’re prepared to put our own ass on the line, upping the aggression factor in our own play might not be the best form of retaliation.  Many uber aggressive players rely on their image, and will go so far as to play pots in a way that protects that image.  Think you can raise an aggressor off a pot with a re-raise?  Let’s consider the hand from their perspective.

In this situation, assume their play has yielded them a chip lead.  They bet, we come out firing with a raise.  Whilst it’s possible we have a monster, chances are they aren’t folding right there.  They have a reputation to protect, so at the very least they are likely to see a flop, and are even more likely to put the pressure back on us and take control of the pot as soon as possible.  Unless we actually do have a monster, and even then, it’s an investment in the success of their own playing style that the aggressive player doesn’t simply fold if there’s a chance they can get lucky or apply enough pressure to get us to fold on later streets.  A better strategy might be to wait for our spot until we really do have a monster, and let the aggressors own tendencies do our bidding for us. 
2.Tight aggressive

This style involves playing only a few hands but laying down pressure bets and raises to make our opponents pay to see a flop or draw to a hand.  This works by isolating players in pots and having them commence play with lesser holdings.  The knowledge that we’ve been playing key hands adds to our fold equity, being the chance we have of winning a pot by getting the other player to fold. 
3. Loose passive

In this style, a player plays even marginal hands but limiting bets and raises.  A player who uses this style hopes to win by through fortunate flops, making draws, and controlling pot sizes whilst getting down to the river with a minimum chip investment (unless of course they have a hand). 

These are just some of the playing styles that a player can use in a fulsome Texas poker strategy.  Having regard to the way our opponents are playing, an awareness of stack sizes and blind levels, and an appreciation for the texture of the cards on the board can help us determine when to switch our game and keep the mugs sitting across the table on their toes.

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