There are two main styles of play in poker: loose and tight.
A loose poker player will tend to play a lot of hands, usually paying to see the flop, and often play right to the River, even with a mediocre poker hand. Players at low-limit poker or Play Money poker tables, like those found at most poker rooms allowing U.S. players, tend to play very loose, and though it is not the most favorable way to play, they will often profit from sheer luck.
A tight poker player can make a lot of money at the looser poker tables, but if the tables are too loose they can lose money simply by losing to bad players with the odd lucky hand. In order to do better at the looser tables, play more suited cards and more small pairs, but if your hand doesn’t improve make sure you are ready to fold.
Tighter poker players take more advantage of starting hand selection to increase their chances of drawing a winner, which is why tighter poker players tend to play much fewer starting hands. Tight tables are usually less profitable because fewer players will pay to see the flop, particularly on high-limit and no-limit poker tables where the players are especially tight and logical.
On top of these styles, a player can be called passive or aggressive, depending on their betting style. Passive players are usually quite predictable: they don’t raise often, usually preferring to check or call, but when they do raise they’ve usually got a good hand. Aggressive players, on the other hand, are much more unpredictable: they tend to raise frequently, making it harder to tell what they’re up to.
The way a player plays off the starting hand, combined with their betting styles, create the four common categories of players: loose-passive (“calling stations”), loose-aggressive (“maniacs”), tight-passive (“rocks”) and tight-aggressive (the ideal type of player).