How to Play Against Fish at the Tables

Playing Against Fish

Poker strategy is about maximising your winnings from big hands and bluffs while minimising your losses when you’re behind.

Essentially this is what poker strategy is all about, making +EV moves etc; however one of the most important elements which is often over-looked is how to exploit weak players and pick the tables that will make you the most money.

There are over 500 poker sites operating on the internet, yet PokerStars has the highest traffic number of players with a more than 3:1 ratio of cash game players compared to their closest rival Full Tilt Poker.

However if all of the players at PokerStars are pros and experienced players who are mainly their for the VIP rewards and large Sunday Guaranteed MTTs, then exactly how profitable do you think the games are?

Finding Fish and Exploiting their Weaknesses Effectively

Rather than assume that the only way to win at poker is to prep yourself mentally and do the best you can in given situations, instead you should be thinking outside the box.  Ask yourself where are the easiest tables in online poker these days and what are softest poker sites?  You find an example of information on online poker sites with fishy players here.

In my opinion, the softest online poker sites at the moment are those where a high proportion of the players are new.  Most sportsbooks with a side poker room for example are perfect, e.g. Bodog and Sportsbook.com since a lot of the low stakes players will actually be sports betting players trying the cross-over poker room for the first time.

In order to exploit fish at the table, the first thing to look for is soft tables in the lobby.  You can usually pick out a soft table by looking at how big the average pots are and the average chip stack.  Generally speaking, the bigger pots are better since it means that there is more chips and passive players to take advantage of.  Small chip stacks (e.g. under 50BBs) also shows poor players who don’t buy in deep stack.

When you sit down at the table you should try to sit to the right of the fish so that you always have position on him.  This enables you to bluff more hands on different streets and re-raise him since you have position on him (last to act).  For example, if he checks his hand than it is a great opportunity to raise him off the pot.

Increasing the size of your bets against weak calling stations is also important.  Generally I will be betting half-pot to ¾ pot a lot of the time on the flop, turn and river.  Against passive, fishy players however I will often bet more (e.g. full pot) in order to extract maximum value from my big hands.

Finally, it is generally accepted that playing tight on a loose table and loose on a tight table is the best strategy to maximise your winnings in both online/live poker.  Thus, if you’re on a loose, passive table with tons of fish than you should be prepared to sit out 90% of your hands and focus on maximising your winnings on your premium and good hands such as 22- AA, QJ+, suited aces and suited connectors.