In the same way that we all have a mixture of x and y chromosomes in our biological make-up, nobody is a completely passive player. However, it is better to know what constitutes passivity, so you are able to identify it in yourself, see it in other players and know what the benefits, or otherwise, are of being a passive poker player.
Passive players are the most disciplined poker players. Irrespective of what they are dealt, they will more often call or check (or fold) than lead the betting – no matter what their position on the table might be. You will never see a passive player involved in continuation betting and rarely does a passive player instigate an all-in bet.
Passive players will be amongst those who see flop less frequently, but being passive should not be confused with lacking in confidence or ambition, because these are the players who account for the majority of high-ranking finishers in a tournament, and frequently can be found grinding out a living on the mid-stakes ring games on all poker sites.
Passive players can be distinguished by their tendencies not to raise, but to check/call whenever possible, and can be further broken down into two distinct groupings – Loose and Tight.
The difference between the two is most clearly demonstrated by their starting hand selections and how they play them through the game. A tight player will only play with the most premium of pocket cards, whereas a loose player is more likely to be flexible and get involved in a game (albeit passively) when he feels he has a reasonable chance of scooping the pot.
The benefit of being a passive player is that they infrequently lose. By being lead, rather than instigating the betting, passive players do not take many risks. They prefer to be reactive rather than proactive and consequently are always there or thereabouts, and hard to shake off in a tournament or Sit ´n ´ Go. Passive players are more likely to understand the importance of folding (and apply it!), and have a better comprehension of pot odds.
On the downside, if a passive player is not prepared to take chances, their rewards are minimalised and they are infrequently at the very top of the winner’s rostrum. Naturally passive players will find it uncomfortable to be in a heads up situation and likely to be the losers when playing short handed. Therefore, although having the discipline and ability to play excellent poker, passive players are poker’s runners up when it comes to being champions.