How to Spot the Fish in Online Poker

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Guide to identifying poor poker players when playing online

Poker Strategy spotting fish in poker gamesThere is nothing better than sitting down at a poker table and realizing that there is an absolute fish at the table, when you know it’s not so much a question of if you’ll win money, but more of how much? However, landing on a table with a fish is not always just down to luck – wouldn’t it be better if you could guarantee sitting with these players every time, or at least knowing when to stick around when one appears?

I’ll start by asking the question – what is a fish? This answer is simply a bad poker player who is worth money to you. They can come in all shapes and sizes – some will be far too aggressive at the tables, some may be incredibly passive and others might have no clue how to play after the flop/turn or the river. Because these fish vary in styles and ability, some can take longer to spot than others – but there is always a way!

In this guide I detail all of the pointers which might indicate the presence of a fish at a table. I start by looking at some general pointers which will apply across all forms of poker, then move onto a pointer which is specific to cash games. I finish by suggesting some ways that you can ensure that having found a fish, you’ll be able to find them again.

Extra: The 'fishiest' poker sites are usually those with big sports betting sites attached. They benefit from inexperienced recreational type players crossing over from sports to poker. A great example (for non-US readers is 888 Poker)

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General Fish identifiers

How to Identify Poker Fish One immediate indicator is a player who is continually using the chat box at the tables. In many cases they’ll be having a go at other players, although some will just be chatting generally, or trying to chat up the player with the good looking avatar. Whatever they are doing, they are not concentrating on playing decent poker.

The other immediate indicators can be seen in the username’s of some players or their avatars. If you find yourself sat next to ‘Phil_Ivey4ever’ or ‘Hellmuth88’ at the table, would you really think they are good players? What about a player who has clearly spent a long time posing for his avatar, a player with an avatar of a dog/cat/baby or a player with a picture of a famous poker player? These are all indicators of bad poker players.

Other identifiers are quickly evident when the play starts. One common tell is a player who limps when they are first in the pot – especially if they then immediately fold to a raise. A player who continually flat calls from the blinds has fish written all over them also. Oversized raises are also an indicator – a 10x the big blind raise when first in will shout fish, an immediate all-in for 50 big blinds is edging more towards whale territory. Another obvious indicator is a player who continually min-raises.

The end result of a hand can also point to an obvious fish. When you see a hand at showdown, consider how a player played the hand and if the hand even appropriate? If a player raises from under the gun with 10-7 off, or calls from the big blind with A4, you know they are going to give you money. Fortunately a fish will give you more information than other players as in many cases they will happily show you their hands, especially after pulling off what they consider to  be a great bluff.

Specific Cash Game Fish Tells

The moment a player sits down with less than a full stack you can immediately assume they are a fish (assume a short stacker is a fish until they you have reason to believe they are not!). If they join the table with a full stack and drop below that amount at a site which offers an auto-reload feature you can also assume they are weak.

Re-finding the Fish

So you’ve now spotted a fish and hopefully taken some money from them. Why don’t you make it easy to find them again. Firstly note down their username. Many sites have a search feature, so next time you log on, search the player and sit down next to them or enter the same sit and go – no need to be kind here, if you don’t take their money someone else will!

Some sites will also allow you to colour code players. Colour code all of the really bad players you come across, and you’ll quickly pick them out when scanning the tables in the lobby.

Always make a note on a bad player – this way you’ll know immediately that they are a fish the moment they join you at a table.

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