Who to Play

A pro player and author one said that it doesn't matter if you are the 8th best player in the world, if the other seven guys at the table are ranked 1st through 7th. Who you play is a very important strategy. If you insist on playing top notch competition, expect your bankroll to reflect the beatings you will probably receive. If you are consistently sitting where you are the best or one of the top players at the table, you will see consistent winning sessions.

The Maniac

This type of player is one of my favorite opponents. He plays any 2 cards and bets and raises with abandon. He seems to think he can win by pushing everyone out of the pot, hand after hand. If he hits a hot run of cards, his stack will grow to massive levels, but he will generally give it all back and be "down to the felt" before the night is over. Look to trap and check raise the maniacs. Often they will take it as an affront that you had the gaul to try such a move and will throw even more money into your pot. Other benefits of playing against the maniac is that he will make the pots higher, so you stand to make a good bit if your cards cooperate. He also tends to put tight players on tilt, adding even more to your profit margin. One warning to take note of: Do not go on tilt yourself. You will likely lose some big hands against the maniac. Be prepared for higher variation in your session, but know that solid play will take him down in the long run.

The Call Station

Like the maniac, the call station will play any two cards. However, he plays them passively. For him, poker is like slots. Put in your money, pull the lever and watch as the cards come out, calling bets along the way and hope to hit the jackpot. The calling station provides solid pots for your good hands. There is no need to slow play or trap. Bet your strong hands and let the call station pay you off. If by chance the calling station breaks out and starts betting aggressively, proceed with caution, as they probably just hit their jackpot.

The Weak/Tight Rock

This player is not near as fun to play at a full table, but if you can get him in a short handed game you can take his chips very quickly. He only bets premium hands and folds everything else to the slightest aggression. The proper method for extracting his chips is to play like a maniac anytime you are against him in a hand. You can win the blinds and antes with practically any 2 cards, as the rock will probably fold, and you can feel confident about laying down your hand if he plays back at you, knowing he only bets with a monster.

Who to Avoid

Pros and Authors

I can't stress enough the point that you do not make money playing good players. If you know that your opponent knows enough about poker to play it professionaly or write a book about it, why on earth would you want to play against him?

Selective Aggressive Players

These players are mirror images of yourself (hopefully). They are selective about what starting hands they play and are very aggressive when they get them. They bluff just enough that you are not completely sure if they have the best hand, but they turn over so many quality showdowns that you do not like the prospects of having to pay to see.

In conclusion, the poker rooms love it when everyone at the table is of equal ability. The chips get passed around and around until the only person that makes money is the house via the constant rakes. The ideal situation for a winning poker player is sit down at a table where he is the best player at that particular table. How much you make in each session will most likely have more to do with the weakness of your opponents than the strength of your own game.