How to Spot a “Fish” in Poker
Anyone can win at poker – all you have to do is find an opponent who’s worse at the game than you are. The better you get at poker, the more of these opponents you’ll find at the table. People have come up with many names for weak players; fish is one of the most common. These loose-passive players are easy to spot when you know what to look for. Here are some of the more obvious characteristics:
- Opening too many hands
- Open-limping (in Texas Hold’em)
- Calling down light
- Not bluffing enough
- Underbetting or overbetting
- Calling every bet regardless of their starting hand
You can keep track of all these tendencies when you download the poker software and play at Bodog Poker – yes, even with anonymous tables. When playing live, you have even more ways to read and identify your opponents. Notice how Daniel Negreanu has been asking people at this year’s World Series of Poker whether or not they have day jobs. If they do, chances are they’re not among the poker elite.
Exploiting A Fish
Knowing your opponent is only half the battle. To maximize your chances of winning, you need to adjust your play to take full advantage of their tendencies. Every poker player has to learn the game from the beginning; if you label someone a fish, you might fail to notice when they improve – and berating them will only motivate them to improve more quickly, or maybe even leave the table. Instead, use the “loose-passive” term to more accurately assess this type of player, and to distinguish them from loose-aggressive players (aka donkeys) who bluff too much.
Once you’ve made this mental game adjustment, it’s time to get down to business on the felt. The wider your opponent calls, the less incentive you have to bluff, so focus more on “thin” value betting. Top pair with a good kicker (at least a Queen) might be good enough for three streets of value in these situations, where you’d normally aim for two streets against an average opponent. The more they call, the less you have to worry about your kicker.
Extremely passive players are much more likely to follow your lead – you check, they’ll check; you put in chips, and so will they. Also, if you haven’t got a lock on the pot don’t let them draw to a winning hand.
As for all that limping, it gives you the opportunity to “isolate” that player with a raise, preferably a raise in position. They might fold, or they might call – another thing worth keeping track of. If they call, they’ll typically fold too much on the flop. And if they happen to call the flop, they’ll typically fold too much on the turn. If they raise your double-barrel? Chances are they have a big hand, so consider folding if you don’t have the right pot odds to call. Discretion is the better part of poker.