As a winning player you need to focus on extracting the most money from your opponents at the tables, and your most likely source of profits come from weak, inexperienced players… the FISH. FISH stands for Fresh Income Source Here. Yes, that’s how you should view them, a source of fresh income which you need to work on earning.
Your profit comes from making better decisions than the poker FISH do in every aspect of the game. Let’s look at some of the differences:
- They play only their cards and the board at the moment… You consider more: their cards, the next street, stack sizes, their tendencies and stats, etc.
- They telegraph their hands with large/small bets… You bet strategic amounts to either get them to fold or to extract more value without giving your hand away.
- They don’t understand position and play the same wherever they are… You strive to only play in position.
- They pay too much and on too many streets for their draws… You consider the pot odds before continuing in hands.
- They don’t care who their opponent is in any given hand… You try to isolate the FISH and stay away from most winning regs.
Besides the five points above, there are many other weaknesses that FISH have, and you need to know how to exploit each of them.
Take the time right now to answer the following questions to help you in analyzing the FISH at your level. You can use your poker tracking software and some good filtering to help you with these answers if necessary.
At what point in the game/session do the FISH make the biggest mistakes at my level? Deep/short stacks, money bubble, in the money, final table, tourney start, etc.?
What streets do they have the most trouble on? Are they making tons of pre-flop mistakes or is it maybe river mistakes?
What action does the majority of their mistakes involve? Betting, calling, raising, folding or checking?
What hands/situations do they put their tourney life or stack on the line with? Is it two pair +, nut flush-draw, combo draw, made hand on scary board, or something else?
What are their most costly mistakes?
Attack the FISH
Once you determine where the FISH make the biggest mistakes, you need to develop a plan to attack. In order to help you with this, I’ve come up with some example answers to the questions above, with a plan of attack associated with each. I play a ton of SNG’s, so these answers are geared towards that game type, but you can do this exercise for whatever game you play and the mistakes your own FISH make.
- WEAKNESS – FISH in my games play far too loosely in the first two stages of SNG’s and see too many flops with weak hands.
Attack – I will attack these FISH with aggressive play with good hands, especially when in position. I will choose hands that likely dominate their K5s, A2o and the like.
- WEAKNESS – FISH in my games have trouble playing on the flop and call cbets too often with weak holdings, either in or out of position.
Attack – I will look at their stats before cbetting the flop, and I’ll pay particular attention to their Turn Fold to Cbet stat. I will cbet only when they’ll likely fold or if I’ve got a hand I want to get value with.
- WEAKNESS – FISH in my games are just too passive and are willing to call down 3 streets with TP bad kicker or 2nd pair good kicker.
Attack – I will value bet only the tops of my range for all three streets. I will take not of “non-believers” and make sure not to bluff them as they’re calling down with crap hands.
- WEAKNESS – FISH in my games are too willing to call shoves on the bubble with Ax and 10-15bb stacks.
Attack – I will make note of the FISH that call too widely and make sure to attack with the top of my range. I will do more raises, especially in position, to take it away on flops that likely miss them as they’ll call all-in pre with A2o but won’t call a shove on a 48Jr board.
- WEAKNESS – FISH in my games are likely to put their stack on the line with TPGK+, pair+ draws and open ended straight draws or flush draws. They don’t even need A or K high flush draws, I’ve been called all-in by 8 and 5 high flush draws plenty of times.
Attack – I will take note of these loose all-in calling FISH and make sure that I have a made hand or a great draw myself before going all-in.
Putting your thoughts like this down on paper and referring to it during your warm-ups is a great way to focus on the FISH before you begin your session.
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FISH are Your Friends
Don’t forget that at the tables, FISH are your Friends. You want them happy and willing to play you, so berating them for their play is a terrible idea. Making a FISH uncomfortable because they’re being insulted and mistreated is just going to dry up that source of income. Berating a FISH might feel good in the short-term, but he won’t feel bad about the hand, he’ll just think to himself, “That’s what you deserve, jerk.”
When your AA gets cracked by the SB FISH that calls your 3x open w/ J4o, just deal with it calmly. Inject some logic (to borrow a phrase from Jared Tendler) into the situation and realize that players like this are why poker is profitable. Say a silent “thank you,” make a note on his play, and move on to the next hand.
For more details on player types other than the FISH at the tables, check out my post on Poker Player Types.
Please let me know in the comments below how you attack the FISH in your games. I’d love to learn more about what you do.
Make your next session the best one yet!
Photo courtesy of Sam Howzit.