Spot the FISH???

If you can’t spot the fish at the poker table – you are the fish!
We look at eight ways to spot weak players in poker games, and how to go about improving your own poker game.

My first rule of Poker says that when you sit down at a new table you should immediately look around at the other players to try to find the fish…the player who is going to be easy beat and will quickly build your bankroll. Maybe they talk a lot, or tell you it’s their first time in a casino or playing poker… even better if they’ve got a beer in their hand. Generally new or inexperienced players are most likely to play like a fish.

The second rule of poker says that if I can’t identify the fish at the table then it’s probably me!!
Of course, with the advent of online poker looking around the table took away a lot of the subtleties of a live table but you still want to try to find the fish at your table, as soon as you can. You can be sure that all the other experienced players at your table will be doing it too.
Online Fish will generally play badly, so watch how they play every hand and look out for clues :-

  1. They usually play in too many hands. Fish want to play poker! That’s why they joined the game.
  2. Fish will call bets, overbets or large raises without factoring in critical information (based on bet sizing and stack sizes of villians) which more experienced players would factor into any decision they have to make in the same spot.
  3. They will stay in hands against multiple opponents without considering the additional risks.
  4. They don’t appreciate the subtleties of the ‘bluff’ play.
  5. They chase medium drawing hands all the way to the river, hoping to get lucky.
  6. They reload their bankroll regularly and often even when they are clearly ‘on-tilt’.
  7. They will sometimes use the table’s chat or emojis to give away their feelings about play and players.
  8. They will go on tilt / make emotional decisions after being hit with a bad beat – rather than understanding that bad beats are part of the game (remember, even pocket aces don’t win 100% the time vs any other pair all in preflop, in Hold’em)

Now that you know who the fish is, you can adjust your play against them accordingly.

However, if you’ve just read the list above and you recognized some or all of them as things you do in your game, then maybe it’s time to do some study to improve your understanding of poker. You don’t be a fish for too long…it’s expensive and unless you like losing your bankroll, it’s definitely not fun.

There are plenty of books and poker articles to help improve your game, read as much as you can and then find an experienced player to talk to about your game. A good coach will save you money in the long term.

Peter Hoggett