Take the time to observe your opponents. First, look at how they play. In poker, as in life, you adjust your behavior according to who you are dealing with and what the situation is. Also, there are many different character types that you will meet at the table. As the game progresses you need to focus on how each opponent plays and try to determine what type of player he is. Poker has four main styles of play. You can play either “tight” or “loose”, and you can play “passive” or “”aggressive". In general, these styles translate into four different types of players. Your job is to identify the types of players in front of you and adapt your behavior accordingly.
Here are the four main player types:
* The "loose-passive" player is the worst type of player there out there, which makes him an easy target. This type of player plays “loose” meaning that he plays almost every pot, regardless of the cards in hand. Also, he tends to call every bet and rarely raises. In other words, he is the perfect target for a shark trying to make some money. Never play like him, and if he happens to be a good friend, tell him that he should stop playing poker.
* The "loose-aggresives" player also plays a lot of hands, like the loose passive player. The difference is that he also raises much of the time. Loose-aggressive players are often considered to be a bit crazy, and tend to be losing players in the long-run. However, you should watch out, because he can hurt you if he gets lucky. Don’t get trapped by his style of play. Wait for a good hand before you attack.
* The "tight-passive" player is the type of player that tends to enter the pot only when he has a premium hand. So beware when he decides to bet. On the other hand, this style of player tends not to bet much. He will often call and will only raise when he's 100% sure he has a winning hand. Once identified, such a predictable strategy is easy to counter. This type of player will not do you much harm so long as you stay vigilant.
* The "tight-aggressive" player tends to be the best type of player out there. Many professional players can be considered tight-aggressive. This kind of player picks his hands carefully, and will not limit himself to the top 10 starting combinations. He has good judgment, and plays aggressively meaning that when he enters a pot he will not hesitate to make large bets and take risks. He will bluff when he feels the situation is right and when he feels that he has enough information about his opponents. Try to avoid tight-aggressive players. Also, try to learn as much from them as possible.