Winning poker players use different playing styles. It's one of the beauties of poker that players with very different styles can be winning.
Nevertheless, for beginning poker players, the tight aggressive style is recommended. Let's see what this means.
How to describe poker playing styles
The playing style of a poker player is often described using two parameters: looseness and aggressiveness.
Players can be very loose or very tight, very aggressive or very passive, or somewhere in between. Any combination of the two parameters is possible.
Some players are loose-passive, others are tight-passive. Today, the loose-aggressive style is very popular. But the right place to begin is in the tight aggressive style.
Your looseness is how many hands you play. If you see almost every flop, you're playing a loose game. If, on the other hand, you fold everything but the very best starting hands, then you're a very tight player.
Aggression has to do with how often you bet and raise in the hands that you play. Calling is not considered an aggressive action.
Each time you call another player's bet or raise, you get a point for passivity. When you bet or raise, you gather aggression points.
How to play tight-aggressive poker
So, being tight-aggressive means that you choose your starting hands carefully, folding all bad hands, but when you enter a pot you come in betting and raising like there's no tomorrow.
Try to be more aggressive
This is the playing style that every beginner should try to master.
Even if long time winners use different playing styles, the tight aggressive style is the safe point of departure when you start out in poker. Why is that?
The reasons are simple. By choosing your starting hands selectively, you will enter the pots with decent holdings. You will often be in a dominating position against your opponents who play more hands and therefore have a worse hand on average.
Protecting your hand
When you hit something on the flop or later in the hand, it's important to protect your hand. You'll almost never hit the absolute nuts, so there's usually a chance that the opposition can improve their hands and beat you on a later street.
To prevent them from hitting their winning cards, or at least make them pay for the privilege, you need to put in sizeable bets.
Betting to protect your hand
For example, if you have AK and the flop comes K-9-3 with two clubs, you're likely to have the best hand at the moment with your top pair. However, any opponent with two clubs is looking for a number of cards that will win the hand for her - the nine clubs that remain in the deck.
Let opponents fold their hands
If you bet too small, or not at all, you're giving her correct odds to see the next card. If she then hits her flush, you'll lose the pot, and you can blame no one but yourself. You should have bet more.
Bet properly and the opponent will either fold her hand or pay too much to see the next card. In both cases you make a profit - at least in the long run, and that's what counts.
Besides protecting your hand, each time when you bet or raise, you give the opponent an opportunity to fold her hand, which is always a good thing.
Go out there and play winning poker
So, the golden rule for poker newbies is to enter pots only with strong hands and protect their hand when they hit something.
This is the tight aggressive style that you should learn first. Later on, when you master this game, you may want to venture into more exotic styles.
Or maybe not - tight-aggressive is never a bad choice. Now go out there and win, but first, read our comprehensive pokersite reviews.