When you sit down at the poker table, there is a variety of players you could be facing, all of whom play a different way. One of these players is the ‘fish’. The ‘fish’, in poker slang, is a weak or inexperienced poker player and when faced with a Fish, you have to be careful. When you find yourself at a table playing against one or more fish, you will need to carefully adjust your strategy as their lack of knowledge about poker can be challenging, but if you can make the proper adjustments, it can be lucrative. Here are a few tips to help you play effectively against a fish.

Identify the fish. The first step when you sit at the poker table is to determine which player or players are the fish. While this may not be immediately obvious, look for players who are making mistakes, like playing too many hands. Do not forget that sometimes pros make mistakes on purpose to confuse the table.

Play more hands against the fish. The fish is likely to be playing a wider range of hands, due to their inexperience. Since they playing without understanding the value of the hands or position, you should be more willing to enter pots against them, especially from a late position. However, be careful not to overdo it and play too loose, as this can be costly in the long run if more experienced players see you playing like this.

Bet more against the fish. Since the fish is more likely to make mistakes, you should be more aggressive and bet heavier than usual against them. This will likely help you win more pots as your bets will likely scare them off.

Bluff sparingly. It is important to know that while it can be tempting to try to bluff the fish, they generally do not have the experience or knowledge to understand what a bluff is trying to say. Fish will only concern themselves with their own hand regardless of the board. They also tend to not properly understand poker strategy and its nuances, as a result, bluffing tends to not be as effective against them.

Pay attention to their tendencies. Fish players tend to be more erratic in their play style. Spending extra time watching how they play will assist you in understanding how they are thinking and what they are planning to do. Once you understand how they play, you can adjust your strategy against them.

Be patient. Patience, as it is everywhere at the poker tables, is key. Don’t get frustrated or try to force the action against the fish. Be patient and wait for good opportunities to present themselves. The fish will make mistakes and when they do, your patience will get you paid.

Take regular breaks. Playing against a fishy player can be mentally exhausting. It requires a lot of focus, concentration and some mental acrobatics as you try to understand why the fish is “playing like that”. Be sure to take regular breaks and give yourself time to rest, recharge and review your hands against the fish.

Respect them, but don’t show them too much respect. Do not misunderstand what I mean. You should ALWAYS be respectful of your opponent. Respecting your opponent is one of the most important of the unwritten rules in poker. And while it is important to be respectful, don’t be too afraid to play aggressively against the fish. Remember, you are still playing poker. They are not as good a player as you are so you should take advantage of their weaknesses and lack of understanding of the game.

Stay focused. It can be easy to get distracted or lose focus when playing against a fish. Regardless if you are confused by the seemingly strange decisions they make or your lack of interest in the game because your opponent is not difficult to beat, it’s important to stay focused and keep your mind sharp. This will help you make better decisions and maximize your profits.

Continuously adjust your strategy. As you play against the fish, you will need to make adjustments to your strategy regularly. Make your adjustments based on their tendencies and the way they are playing at the moment. Their lack of poker strategy knowledge in combination with you making constant adjustments to your strategy will help keep you at least one step ahead.

While there is no guaranteed way to ensure you win at the poker tables, when you find yourself at a table full of fish, these tips will assist you in effectively exploiting them and maximizing your profits at the poker table. Just remember their decision making will be erratic and seemingly nonsensical. So just continuously adjust your strategy, be patient and stay focused.

About the Author: Jinwoonon graduated from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok in 2014 with a bachelor of science degree in Chemical Technology. Currently working as an assistant teacher specializing in Mathematics, Jinwoonon enjoys spending time using mathematics to contribute to the advancement of poker strategy.