Getting The Tag Right
How you go about this is entirely up to you and many players use software to assist them here. Most players who I know either use PokerTracker, Poker Office or Hold'em Manager.
But whatever you use then you are really going to have to take the time to get to know the nuances of the players on your table as quickly as possible. But you need to be very careful how you classify your opponents because the very best players will subtly use a combination of small ball and long ball tactics based on each individual situation.
For instance, just because you see a player raise pre-flop for ten consecutive hands does not mean that when this player moves all in for 75BB after you re-raise him that he is doing this on total cheese. Or perhaps they have bet the flop and you called and then bet the turn and you raised and they re-raised you all in.
Do not confuse pre-flop and flop aggression with turn and river aggression and all in moves. Most solid players will restrict their moves and aggression to pre-flop and on the flop and when they make turn and river moves then this tends to be when the flop betting has been deferred by it being checked around.
I have seen too many players get stacked by applying an incorrect tag to their opponent based on their pre-flop and flop play. It can be catastrophic to get your money in when drawing dead and this is the type of mistake that players make who try and respond to what they think are bullies or maniacs.
If you think that a player is playing like a maniac or is on tilt in a given situation and just the exact opposite is true then you are going to be in very serious trouble. It is exactly the same with limit play, you will find most of the really aggressive moves made pre-flop and on the flop on the cheaper betting rounds but the play switches to more orthodox play on the big turn and river betting rounds.
This applies to no limit play too because you tend to not be committing too much of your stack on the pre-flop and flop betting rounds. But if your flop bet gets called then the pot has escalated to such a level that a turn or river bet or raise will either be all in or close to it.
So it is always worth bearing in mind that players who are very aggressive pre-flop and on the flop doesn't always mean that they will continue to be over aggressive on the turn and river too. These days with an ever greater number of players being aware of small ball tactics then this is generally not the case.
Carl "The Dean" Sampson is sponsored by Pokerheaven.com