Every year, thousands of people sit down at the poker table. Poker, much like life, brings in all different kinds of players, from all different shapes, sizes, and mentalities. It’s fun (and often quite hilarious) to try and compartmentalize each player into a specific category. More often than not, it’s also shockingly accurate. From the fish and the sharks, all the way up to the maniacs and the old timers, here is our list of nine different kinds of players you see on a poker table. Which one are you?
9. The Fish/The ATM
“If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.” – Mike McDermott
At some point in your poker playing career, you probably WERE that sucker. You know, the player who can never lay down an ace or a king, especially when it’s suited. It’s the same player who, if they hit anything on the flop (or the turn for that matter), cannot fold, no matter how dangerous the board is. These calling stations will constantly be crying about “bad luck” and yet their weak hands will generally lead to them being outkicked after they inevitably check the hand down on the river. The Fish will rarely raise, but when they do it’s such a massive over-bet that they make no money with the nuts. Occasionally, they will hit a string of lucky cards, but their play is so transparent that you should be able to avoid butting heads with them. Solid ABC poker will annihilate these guys, but don’t worry, the great thing about them is that they’ll be back, and they never get any better.
8. The Nit
The Nit is also referred to as “The Rock,” but in the opinion of this writer, there is nothing solid or strong about their play. The Nit will sit back and wait for Aces, Kings, Queens, and AK; anything else and it goes into the muck. This risk-averse style of play will eventually cause The Nit to blind out, and as long you don’t try to get fancy or overthink things, you will rarely lose a hand to this player. If The Nit ever re-raises you, go ahead and fold your pair of tens face up.
7. The Expert
It’s really easy to spot these guys. Just look for sunglasses, a PokerStars hat, and oversized headphones. The Expert is usually in his late teens or early twenties, and will constantly talk about his online play and the most recent WSOP episode. Out of all the players on the list, this is by far my favorite player to beat—their whining makes Phil Hellmuth look civil by comparison. They’ll constantly try fancy plays (which rarely work), and every hand they have ever lost is because of a suckout, which they will be more than happy to tell you about. If you DARE call them down with 2nd or 3rd pair, prepare to be screamed at, you stupid donkey.
6. The Super Aggro Maniac
The Maniac doesn’t have a specific physical description, but they are easy to spot because they will play virtually every single hand, and they have no qualms against raising and re-raising any hand. Sometimes they’re drunk, sometimes they’re on tilt, and sometimes they’re just fun-loving maniacs. Unlike the players listed above, The Maniac actually poses a threat—their extreme aggressiveness can put you on tilt and destroy your bankroll. One advantage of having a maniac on your table (aside from slow-playing premium hands and annihilating him/her), is that their play will also have a negative effect on the other players on the table.
5. Mr. ABC
ABC Poker is your standard, no-nonsense type of poker. This is the style of play typically recommended to beginners in order for them to get a grasp of the game and gain experience. Mr. ABC only raises with premium hands, he doesn’t continuation bluff, and he rarely tries anything fancy. He plays a tight, basic style of poker and never makes adjustments. In other words, he’s heavily exploitable. Before the online poker boom, playing ABC poker was a winning strategy. In today’s world, although it might still work in micro-to-small stakes games, playing by the book will get you crushed in higher stakes games.
4. The Young Gun
The Young Gun is a combination between The Expert and The Maniac. They will constantly make bluffs on busted draws on the river, and yet they will also check monster hands and not get paid. Overconfident but under-skilled, they are fish who think they can play. I’ll let you in on a little hint: they can’t. This is the kind of player who will make ludicrously bad “hero” calls in an attempt to show off to the table. Ugh, I think I was there once.
3. The Old Timer
Sometimes, this player is The Nit; other times, this player is The Maniac. Sometimes, this player is shockingly easy to read; other times, this player will annihilate you with a flopped set out of nowhere, and two hours later you still don’t know how they did it. The Old Timer is usually a sweet old fellow (or lady), who will show you their hand 9 times out of 10 if you ask politely. Push the wrong buttons, however, and they will quickly become your worst enemy. I love them, and at the same time I hate them.
2. The Newb
It might be their first time playing poker or it might be their tenth, but the point is that these players have no freaking clue what they are doing. What makes things worse, at least for them, is that they are totally OK with that—after all, they’re just here to have a good time. They are enthusiastic, nice to play with, and totally unwilling to improve their game in any way. Find them, and you will never have to worry about student loans again.
1. The Shark
The Shark is the perfect player. Crafty, tight aggressive, and extremely hard to read, this player will always leave you guessing about their intentions. They are kryptonite to all the other eight kinds of players on the table, because they can change to adjust to any type of play, and because they have elements of every player. This player won’t dump off money to The Nit when they re-raise the table, but he’ll be able to sniff out a bluff from The Maniac or The Young Gun and make the call. This is the player you should fear and avoid at all costs, even if you ARE that player. Then again, if you are that player, what the heck are you listening to me for?