Jan 22, 2020

How to Identify a Fish on a Poker Table?

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The Basics

The term ‘fish’ has been adopted as a technical term in poker, but it is still considered a derogatory remark. Tread with caution.

First of all, what exactly is a fish? A ‘fish’ is a poker player who is essentially inexperienced and is often a recreational player who becomes a good target for the skilled players to win some pots.

The most obvious action to take is to play as many hands as possible with a fish, but know when to stop. Try to expand your pre-flop ranges against them, however, don’t go overboard.

In order to play more pots, you should most likely prefer iso-raising. However, in order to play against them, you should know how to identify them on a table.

Recognizing the common tendencies of a weak player:                                                     

  1. There is lots of pre-flop open-limping instead of open-raising.
  2. Not choosing to rebuy to 100bb when they are losing chips.
  3. Unconventional hand selection, often significantly too passive or too aggressive.
  4. Excessive talking (especially online). Experienced players rarely use the chatbox.
  5. Bluffing aggressively. Unconventional post-flop lines.

What is Isolation Raising?

Also known as iso-raising, it is a technique you can use in which you increase the number of hands you play against a weak player. It is done by targeting open-limpers in the pre-flop round.

Basically, your opponent open-limps, and you decide to raise in anticipation of a heads-up pot against the limper. In cases where the majority of the players are choosing to call your iso-raise, it’s a common practice to increase your iso-raise.

Other Isolation Techniques


Not every recreational player’s mind works the same way. They can even open-raise instead of open-limp. Therefore, you can make small 3bets to isolate the pot heads-up.

SB Completes HU

When the players have folded in the pre-flop round and you’re in the SB, you can expand your ranges when the BB is a weak player. In case you have weaker holdings, it’s better to complete in the SB rather than open-raise. Try to play 100% of your pre-flop hands against an inexperienced player.

Another situation would be when you face an open limper. It is expected from you to enter the pot with a wide range since your opponent is most likely an inexperienced player. Although you cannot always have strong hands to iso-raise, it’s better to complete the SB with a wide range hoping to see a multi-way pot.

Expanding Cold-Calls

An open-raiser in a hand could be a decent player, however, there are still weaker players on the table. You can choose to cold-call wider against a regular’s bet in anticipation of an overcall from the fish.

There is no fool-proof plan to play certain hands or act in a certain way in poker, but to study your opponent and act accordingly helps. All the best for your next game. Leave comments if you think this was helpful!

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