How to Identify a Fish

Lost & Found | estimated reading time
2011. April 12. |
In this article, we would like to show how to avoid being a shark’s lunch and maximize our online winnings. The key aspect of catching the fish is choosing the best possible table to play at.
Do not go for the regulars, but try to find opponents that are easier to beat instead. This article will make you familiar with the trademarks of a fish, so you can find them, and avoid being one yourself.

The role of HUD software in the hunt for fish

HUD statistics (provided by Holdem Manager or PokerTracker3) are undoubtedly very important in the quest of finding a fish. There are other ways of identifying weaker players, but HUD statistics give very quick insight into what kind of player you are up against. Usually, every player whose VPIP percentages are above 33% can be classified as a weak opponent. Your HUD will indicate this, giving you a green light to strike. You should look for a table that has many players with stats like this. It is best to play at a table with at least one player whose VPIP is above 50%, and these players can mostly be found during European peak hours.

But what if:

a)    HUD is not allowed at our poker room (i.e. Cake Poker, AK Poker Club)
b)    We don’t have enough data on the players and are unable to judge them by their statistics shown by HUD
c)    We don’t have Holdem Manager or PokerTracker3


In cases like this, many players feel they are left in the dark, but there are other ways of finding the losing players.

Shark
It’s always better to be a grinning shark with pearly whites

How to find fish without a HUD

The first sign of loose players is how much money they bring to the table. Regulars and good players never really sit down at a table with less than 100 big blinds, whereas fish tend to risk much less money at a time, which also indicates that their bankroll does not suite the stakes they play. The best you can find is a player who sits down with peculiar money amounts, such as $63.45 at a $100 table. This usually means that their whole bankroll is at the table. Flop-viewing percentages of these players are usually pretty high. 

It is also a good sign if a player immediately posts the big blind instead of waiting for it. Since online poker is quite a fast-paced game, there is absolutely no need to post blinds when out of position. Anyone who does this is usually either a gambler or a newbie.

A player’s nationality can also provide some information on their playing style. Sometimes, when you have no other indication on the type of player you are facing, you can check where they come from. Usually, if a player is from a Mediterranean country (or France), they will be much looser than a Scandinavian, for example.  

The next sign to look at would be the player’s nickname. If the player’s name is a typical poker phrase (like SuitedAces, etc.), that player is more likely to be a stronger one.

Let’s see how it works in practice:

You enter the poker room, identify the players at the table, see how much money they put in the middle, see where they come from, see how they post the blind and also collect some data from their nickname. What else can be used to examine them?
You might not think, but the chat window can be a good sign of a weak player. If players talk too much, wish good luck to everyone and always say ‘hi’, they are presumably fish, and are there to have a good time instead of winning money.

After having played a few hands, you can go deeper into  analyzing your opponent. If someone keeps showing their losing hands that would normally get mucked, it once again indicates a weaker player. A regular would never really do this, as it is quite time-consuming, and they usually have multiple tables open at a time, with the ‘auto-muck’ checked at all of them.

The weak players sitting in the blinds typically keep showing their Aces and Kings, just to boast with them. If, however, they also show hands like A3o or KTo, it might mean that they think these hands are just as good as Aces or Kings.

Another thing to check could be the number of tables your opponent plays at. If you see someone that plays 12 tables at once, you can presume that player is not a rookie. If you find someone that only plays one, however, it can easily be that you have just found a nice fish for dinner. 

Lastly, it can also be a good sign if someone does not refill their stack regularly. Good players usually reload after falling below 90-95 big blinds out of 100. Whereas, if a player sat in with 100 BBs, only has 55 left and does not refill, they are probably in it to lose it all.

Finding and taking down the fish is crucial in order to have good winning rates. HUD statistics are very-very useful tools for this and provide a time-saving solution, but if you take into consideration the aspects mentioned above, you can even get along without a HUD most of the time. Good luck at the tables!

 

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