Poker rooms around the world are filled with hopeful players looking to make some cash. Some of these players are professional poker players, and others are everyday men and women looking for a little action.
I’ve seen poker players broken down into multiple categories many times. However, I’m here to tell you that you should only focus on two types of poker players.
There are sharks and fish; it’s that simple. If you’re not a shark, you’re a fish. Therefore, all you need to do to become a shark is spot the fish.
Here are my top 10 ways to spot the fish in the poker room.
1 – The Fish Play Too Much
Savvy poker players are mitigating risks; this an essential aspect of a successful poker strategy. So, when you see your opponent playing a ton of hands, it can be a reliable indicator that they’re a weaker player.
Good players know that seeing flops cost money, and if you’re continually chasing cards, you’re going to be losing steadily.
Not only will you be forced off your mediocre hands an overwhelming majority of the time, but you may also catch a sound card against a better opponent and contribute even more to their chip stack.
I’d say that if you have an opponent playing more than four out of every 10 hands, they’re almost guaranteed to be a fish.
Tread lightly here. Sometimes, a strong player will play more aggressively on a table with weaker players. You don’t want to get caught with your pants down in a heads up against a better player. They will win far more often.
2 – They Limp Into Hands
Solid poker players know that you never limp into a hand. You must always raise when entering a pot.
Fish limp into almost every pot they enter. By calling the big blind and not raising, you’re announcing to the table that you’re weak.
Advanced poker players understand that it’s always to play fewer right hands aggressively than playing a bunch of hands by limping into pots.
Fish haven’t learned that concept, and the notion of seeing a flop for only a big blind call seems like a tremendous value.
When you see an opponent that refuses to raise the big blind and is playing a lot of hands, you’ve found yourself a fish—enjoy.
3 – They Have Completely Random Bet Sizes
When you have an opponent that is making inexplicable and even flat-out odd bets, you may have spotted a fish.
Fish are fish because they don’t put any time into learning poker’s strategies or trends. So, when you have a player raising 10x the big blind pre-flop, it can be a great indicator.
Smart poker players know that a 2x to 3x bet is considered the standard raise amount before the flop. You might see aggressive players going up to 4x, but not as often as in the past.
A good rule for distinguishing a fish is looking for small bets when the pot is relatively large and huge bets when the pool is tiny.
You’ll see this in poker tournaments a lot. A player tries to get a leg up on the field by pushing all-in pre-flop for several rounds.
For myself and many much better players, this is a clear indicator that a fish is in our midst. Few things will put a bullseye on your back as quickly as going all-in pre-flop.
4 – They Don’t Know the Rules
One of the easiest ways to spot the fish can come before you ever get to play your first hand.
At the poker table, every move you make can tell your opponents a lot. Learning to pick up on these small things can go a long way to improving your winnings in the poker room.
To catch an opponent off-guard, watch how comfortable they are with the flow of the game. If another player is having trouble with understanding the blinds or when they need to post them, you’re clearly staring at a fish.
When a player doesn’t understand the basic table rules of poker, it’s improbable they’ve spent any time studying the systems. Go get them.
5 – They Can’t Wait to Tell You About Their Bluff
Keeping a low-key presence is a tremendous advantage at the poker table. Not everyone can grasp this simple concept and seemingly go out of their way to let everyone within earshot how green they are.
The last thing you’ll ever see a competitive poker player do is tell you after you’ve been bluffed. I’d say that 99.9% when a solid player tells you they weren’t bluffing, they were.
Keeping your opponents guessing is vital to your success as a poker player. Fish have trouble bluffing; they don’t have the necessary confidence to pull it off. Still, they bluff more than any other demographic of a poker player.
Luckily, it’s relatively easy to spot their bluff if you’ve been paying attention.
On the off chance that a fish bluffs you, don’t be surprised when they gush about how they’ve pulled one over on you.
Newbies can’t wait to tell you when they’ve bluffed their way into a pot, and you can use that information to bust them later in the session.
6 – They’ll Try to Play Out of Turn
You’ve no doubt seen the cringeworthy moment when a player tries to make a move out of turn. I did it early in my online poker career frequently, but thankfully, it went unnoticed by my opponents.
That’s one of the advantages of online poker; it hides some mistakes. However, there’s no hiding in the poker room.
Newer players can have difficulty picking up who the action is on. They’ll often try to play out of turn or not realize the action is on them, and the dealer will have to point it out for them.
Once this occurs, it can diminish any confidence your opponent had and leaves them wide open to be picked off.
7 – They Are Inconsistent With Their Strategy
Sure, playing a consistent game can give opponents on your hand. It would be best if you always had your opponents guessing in a hand of poker.
I don’t care if my opponents have 2/7 off-suit or pocket aces, as long as I don’t have either of those hands. It would be best if you mix up your style occasionally.
Still, there’s a line to how inconsistent you should be. Fish won’t have any actual strategy.
So, they will often play the same hand ultimately two ways.
You can also expect fish to play more aggressively when they’re on a winning streak and get too tight after a couple of consecutive losses.
8 – They Lose and Lose Often
Fish tend to lose a ton of hands. An average poker player will lose about one out of 20 big blinds.
For fish, the loss rate is much higher; some have it at as high as five in 20 big blinds.
This is excellent news for you. Fish are the driving force behind the entire poker industry.
Fish can be found in just about any poker room on the planet. This means that in order to start winning faster, all you need to do is find the fish.
If all else fails and you can’t spot the fish, look for the most losing player.
9 – They Wear Their Emotions on Their Sleeves
Keeping a stoic demeanor is critical for your success at the poker table.
Fish have a tendency to wear their emotions on their sleeves. They have not learned how to guard their emotions.
This is a fatal flaw for poker players. Once a savvy poker player catches onto the fact that you’re running hot or cold, they will prey on that weakness.
When these players lose control of their emotions and go on tilt, they lose their ability to make concise decisions.
As soon as a fish begins to self-sabotage, it would help if you were ready to take them for every penny they have.
In order to facilitate this, you need to become keenly observational. When you learn to observe even the slightest changes in your opponent’s demeanor, you’ll start winning more instantaneously.
10 – They Literally Show Their Hand
I’ve gone over how important it is to pay attention to the poker table. The gathering of information is 95% of winning at poker.
Fish will go almost out of their way to feed you crucial information. They will show their cards for wins and losses.
One famous play is flipping them over for their opponent after they’ve folded. Of course, they’re fish, and other times, they’ll show their cards after they win a hand.
I can’t understand where they get this notion, but I suspect Hollywood is to blame. Fortunately, this only serves to add money to the savvy poker player’s chip stack.
Among all of the ridiculous miscues made by fish, this one is among the most common. It almost seems like they make this move to show how knowledgeable they are in poker etiquette.
Spotting fish in the poker room is one of the fastest and most surefire ways to profit. You can use these top 10 ways to spot the fish in the poker room to turn yourself from poker fish to poker shark.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. …