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Fish in Poker

One of the worst nicknames a poker player can get is Fish. The fish is the worst player at the table, and the best find a shark can hope for. If you play ring games and tournaments, you need to know what turn a player into a fish, and how you can avoid being one. Once you’ve got that part covered, you can move to phase two: how to spot a fish and what’s in it for you 😉

How to Spot a Fish

Fish and chips go together great, until it comes to the poker table, where they part ways quite quickly. The fish is a bad player and every shark’s dream because he loses a lot of money due to poor decisions and bad play moves.

Nothing screams fish like check-call. The check-call is a dubious play strategy where the player checks whenever possible, or otherwise calls, but never raises. This is how the fish earned the nickname Calling Station. The problem with the check-call is that it makes you a predictable player, and that’s never a good tactic in poker.

The second trait of the fish is pursuing hopeless hands – they look like the start of something or a low pair, and the deluded player keeps pouring into the pot while he’ll never be the one to gulp it. The fish plays loose, calling and calling even on hands that aren’t worth the effort.

A great example is a pair of Jacks, that hole card that earned the name Fishhooks, and not only because this letter really resembles a fishing hook, but because it sends a fish spinning for low bait. Pursuing low pairs is not profitable for the long run, but the fish works his little fin off chasing down these hands nonetheless. Another example for a bad hand to chase is AK, nowadays called Anna Kournikova – looks good, but no grand slam trophy in that future. When it comes to this type of hands, the fish doesn’t know when to fold, and he calls his way thru the flop and the turn hoping to make it on the river.

How Not to Be a Fish

An excellent poker proverb says that if you can’t spot the fish at your table within 3 hands than it’s probably you. Make it a rule of thumb to check yourself: every good poker software features statistics for each game where you can see your number and percentage of wins, calls, raises, and folds. This is the best way to detect and destroy your inner-fish.

If you’re losing money it’s time to lose bad habits: If all you do is call, than you are a passive player and walking shark food. Constant calls is a tell that your hand is weak and that you’re just hanging on for the ride. If your not confident about your hand, why waist money pursuing it? If it is strong, why shy away? You need to raise to make sure there’s enough money in the pot when you sweep it!

How to keep the hook out of your mouth? You need to know when to fold. Check out Texas Hold’em Tournaments Tips for more on that.

What’s In It for You?
The fish bleeds his chips awfully fast, and wherever you can sniff blood, you’ll find a shark. If you’re lucky enough to sit with a fish (or smart enough to spot him as one) you can use his habits against him.

You know that the fish will be checking as much as he can to get a free ride to the turn, so if you’ve got the hand, always raise, to make him call instead of check. Keep raising (moderately, you don’t want to scare him off), because he’s likely to call your raises.

If your fish suddenly raises, you better fold, because only a hand made of solid gold will inspire him to take such a daring step.

If you’re making your first steps in poker, don’t be discouraged but make sure you know your poker hand rankings. They may say that in the abyss of poker it’s eat or be eaten – you’re either an aggressive cut-throat shark or a passive little sardine. But the truth is that most players (after a short initiation period) are somewhere in the middle (a dolphin, if you’d like to push this metaphor beyond the limits of taste…) Just friendly, playful, intelligent people, who are looking for a good time and a chance to kick a little ass when the cards are right. Keep playing, be aware of your mistakes, work on your strategy, and you’ll be swimming in chips soon enough.

May 22, 2012 - Offer valid as of date published. T&Cs apply.