How to isolate the fish

A ‘fish’ can be a great source of income for any accomplished poker player and are often the difference between success and failure on the felt. Their play will often be erratic and full of leaks and errors in their post and pre flop game. However, it’s important that you play a solid game against them and keep a controlled game plan in order to maximise the amount of money you can make.

They can come in all shapes and sizes, from rich business men just wanting a bit of a gamble to pass some time, to players who maybe play a bit more but don’t put any thought into their game or what their actions may concede. It’s because of their indifferent styles that they have so many leaks, so there is often more than one way to win money off them. This means that the ease in which to do so is high and long term your success rate versus them will be very rewarding.

A large part of finding the fish comes via table selection. By this we mean finding a suitable fish to regular’s ratio at the table. If for example at a 6 max table you sit down and straight away you see 5 other people of whom you recognise to be competent players then this is not going to help you in finding the fish. Look to start tables rather than join them. The fish will want to jump straight into the action so a table with 2-3 spare seats will look appealing to them.

Once you’ve found your fish, it’s time to start exploiting their weaknesses, resulting in you winning money from them. Now position is normally one of the most important factors when playing poker, and while it’s not as significant against the fish (as they are likely to pay you off whatever) it’s still a central theme in which you want to continue. Once engaged in a pot, look to bet your hand for value and try to stay clear of crazy bluffs against them. On the whole, it’s unlikely they are going to fold a lot, so all we need to do is be aggressive with our made hands or big draws to get paid off.

A good way in getting them heads up in pots is to increase our initial pre flop raise size. We’ve already mentioned that they will want to play a lot of hands and rarely fold before the flop as they look to make any old hand. So if our initial open was 3 times the big blind, we can increase this to maybe 5-7 times. What this will do is scare off the regulars with marginal hands as the size is so large, but will keep the fish in as their curiosity to see the flop will be too great. It also benefits the fact that we are getting as much money in the pot with the best hand, as possible.

As a final point, look to engage with them a little at the table. Remember these people are more than likely just out to have a bit of fun and gamble, whereas our agenda is different. We want to make money! The odd ‘nice hand’ or ‘well played’ in the chat box just keeps them sweet and little more likely to stick around in what they think is a friendly table.

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