A large part of your poker strategy will be individual to how your opponents play. This means that you will need to classify how your opponents play as quickly as possible. While many players get too technical in this area than what is warranted, you can simplify things an awful lot in poker. When you are playing in a speeded up environment like online poker then you simply will not have time to recall complex equations or anything else. You will need to basically know one thing and that is whether or not your opponent leans towards being passive or aggressive.
There are certain indicators that will tell you this but first of all we need to know why it is important to know if your opponents are passive or aggressive in nature because this will have a huge impact on strategy. A player that is generally passive will be a likely candidate to value bet against because they will tend to call down with lighter holdings. You do not make big calls against them when the pots start to escalate if they are showing signs of wanting to escalate the pot.
So in essence your strategy against passive players tends to be bluffing them in small pots but be very aware of any signs that they are willing to escalate the pot. Bluffing several barrels and having someone call you down with second pair is no fun. The good news is that these are expressly the types of opponents that you can value bet and this is where you need to be basing your strategy. Aggressive players on the other hand can also be bluffed earlier in the hand because their hand ranges are so wide.
The biggest difference though comes from when the pots start to escalate because aggressive players can be called down more when they stack off. This is for the simple reason being that their ranges are so polarised in big pots between strong hands and fresh air. So you can be aggressive against passive players and aggressive players earlier in the hand but when the pots start to escalate then you can make big calls against aggressive players but not against passive players. The next part comes in how to quickly recognise if a player is aggressive or passive. There are several key factors that can be gleaned from the game very quickly.
The first one is if your opponent has a full stack on multiple tables. This is a good sign of an aggressive multi-tabling regular. Secondly their stack size is indicative of being passive or aggressive, if a player has a stack size that is less than the maximum buy-in but not a minimum stack player then this is a good sign of a passive player. Other factors like min-raising is a good sign of a players overall game bias as is limping. Constant aggressive action pre-flop like three betting is also a sign of a player being aggressive and pre-flop aggression is often followed by post flop aggression. So the bottom line is that two of these factors can be got from the lobby screen while the other three are visible in actual game play.
Carl Sampson is an online poker pro and ambassador for 888poker