Crushing Fishy Poker Tables

Fishy tables are typically your most profitable kind of poker table. Lots of players who are making massive strategic mistakes allow you to play a simple strategy that allows them to beat themselves. And while you could implement a simple style that makes some money, there are some key areas that you can focus on to maximize your profit in these games.

Push play and we’ll discuss the main three adjustments you can make, or continue reading the guide below.

After Chris Moneymaker provided the perfect Cinderella story and won the World Series of Poker Main Event back in 2003 as PokerStars qualifier, the online poker market was suddenly booming. While many top professionals emerged in the years after that as a result, there were also a stream of new casual players getting involved and there was a lot of value up for grabs.

Since Black Friday, the influx of new players has slowed down and the current pandemic caused another boom with record numbers being recorded across the board for all the major online poker sites and the player pool is said to have doubled. You are not as likely to face tough pros as frequently and suddenly face a dilemma to take advantage of fishy tables once again as this hasn’t been the case in the online streets for a while.

Which adjustments can you make to exploit this new boom? Keep in mind that this strategy may very well carry over to the live poker scene at some point once the casinos are allowed to open their doors again and recreational players abandon online poker to have a few drinks and enjoy themselves.

As creatures of habit, humans are used to expecting the same results but the usual strategies may not apply anymore in this new era of the online poker boom. Think of it as a new season of your favorite TV show. The basics (main characters) are still the same but several twists take place to alter the storyline. And that is something to embrace and get used to in order to find a new comfort zone.

Use Different Bet Sizes Against Fish

Don’t be surprised to see larger open raises and bigger continuation bets happen more frequently, and be prepared to adjust your own bet sizes on fishy tables to take advantage of the situation. One thing you have to be certain of is what you want to achieve with it. Do you want to create a bigger pot, reduce the number of opponents involved or get more value out of your strong hands?

It all starts with your preflop raise sizing. If you apply the same 2.2x raise that you would normally do against regulars, there may have been a limited amount of callers but the new mixture of players results in more calls and represents a wider and less-predictable range of hands to make post flop play more challenging.

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Experimenting with different bet sizes comes with a cost and your short term profit goes down but you will be able to digest whether or not other players at the table adjust their sizes and furthermore determine which sizings force more folds and which ones invite fishy players to stick around. Larger sizes preflop require a plan beyond that and it is perfectly okay to shut down when facing resistance as long as you don’t give up on all of your +EV poker bluffs.

Limping Preflop In Fishy Games

In many textbooks about poker, you will read that it is a bad idea to limp too often and you should pay attention to your table position if you do so with what you perceive as a fishy player also getting involved. There is no need to limp in with every suited or connected hand because it is very cheap as you then may face a tough decision postflop when you hit top pair against multiple opponents.

Spots in which a limp can turn out to be quite profitable depending on your position and whether or not there are fishy and aggressive players behind you. Those playable pocket pairs or suited connectors that can hit gin on the flop don’t always have to be raised to bloat up the pot with three callers, and capable regulars may toss in a squeeze once in a while to take advantage of the dead money in the pot. You shouldn’t be limping with the same hand range all the time either as other players will pick up on that rather quickly, as you would be doing against fishy opponents.

Changing Seats For Ideal Position

As soon as you have identified a fishy player at your local casino it may become very tempting to ask for a seat change if there are open seats available. But is that always a good idea or will you get too comfortable and not max out your potential? A decent player can take advantage of the position most of the time but may not be invited to those juicy private games after all, and their own learning effect is limited.

Being put in a tougher spot may not be fun but provides the opportunity to learn how to dig yourself out of a deep hole, adjust to entirely different table dynamics as new players join and as a result become a better and more balanced player. Also keep in mind that you only have this option in cash games sessions.

The lessons you learn from not being in the perfect position can become very valuable in poker tournaments when a potentially big payday is on the horizon and in which you cannot influence the random seat assignments.

Conclusion & Cliffnotes

Don’t let the frustration about the outcome of a certain hand or running not as good as usual decide over your next actions at the table but instead think proactively and carefully consider your next moves from a logical point of view.

As a final reminder, here are the key takeaways for making correct strategic adjustments in these kinds of fishy games:

  1. Use bigger bet & raise sizing when your opponents are inelastic
  2. Avoid risking too many chips on bluffs when fewer would get the job done
  3. Limping if valid when raising creates a less ideal outcome
  4. Don’t limp suited trash over estimating implied odds and under estimating reverse implied odds in these games
  5. Seat changing is an option, but should be avoided in most scenarios

There are plenty of other ways to adjust to fishy tables as well, and actually things we can learn directly from these players. For more, check out this article by Sky titled “What Poker Players Can Learn From Fish”.

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