re: Poker & What is your playing style
It's Not About Style - Chris "Fox" Wallace
From a couple of guy sitting at a bar to some of the best players in the world I hear the same discussion - What's the best style to play? Is it Hyper-Aggressive? LAG? Tight? TAG? Quick gear changes? A “Chip gathering” style or a more conservative style based on survival? Well I am just conceited enough to think I have an answer to the question that so many people have trouble with. And the answer is…
It doesn't matter and the question is unnecessary.
There is not a "style" that wins, only skills. If you play well then rocks will think you are a LAG and LAG's will think that you are tight. Calling stations will think that you are aggressive and so will the weak tight players, but overaggressive players will label you a passive calling station and wonder why they have such terrible luck trying to bluff you. Everyone will be baffled except the other great players and even they will know enough to stay the hell out of your way.
I hear tight-aggressive players talk about how they end up at the bottom of the money so often and I hear they want to switch to a LAG style. I hear LAG's say they keep getting busted early and want to learn how to tighten up without getting blinded off. No matter what style you pick if you stick to one thing you will not do well. Daniel Negreanu is not a LAG all the time, Phil Ivey does occasionally check and call, and I even watched T.J. Cloutier raise from utg with a pair of deuces once. No matter what style you like as you become a better and better player you'll find your “style” changes according to your opponents and that you are often playing the same way as the other highly skilled players are.
If you consider yourself a tight-aggressive tournament player and you are having trouble making it deep into tournaments find ways to improve your game. If you find ways to make more when you are winning and lose less on the pots you lose you'll have more chips to survive that bad beat that would knock you out of the tourney otherwise.
If you are a looser player and getting busted early a little too often just keep working on your game. You'll find that you tighten up a little, and start to play smarter, and soon you will be lasting long enough to hit a little run of cards and get that big stack you were always hoping for.
When I first got serious about poker I talked to my buddy Hatfield every day on the phone and we played $30 MTT's on Party every day. He started much looser and more aggressive and I was a bit of a rock. As we learned more about the game together by reading books and discussing hands our games became very similar. He's still just a little more aggressive than I am, but you'd never recognize that rock in me now and he has tightened up enough that people hardly ever call him a maniac at the tables these days. Neither of us is perfect, but we both moved in that direction enough to end up as very similar players.
To me style is just a starting point. It's the direction that you approach perfection from. Once you stop thinking of yourself as a certain style player, and just try to play perfect poker, you'll be able to adjust to your opponents and play whatever game gets the money. Then you'll never be the LAG who is emailing me asking how to beat a table full of calling stations and you'll never be the rock asking me how to beat maniacs who keep stealing from them all the time.
The only thing you should be worried about is what play makes the most money in a given situation. Once you get to that point style is pointless and the question will fade from your mind. Not long after that someone will ask you what style they should play and you'll see how silly the question is.