The ABC of Poker: How to Play Against Recreational Opponents?


Many modern regulars want to know how to play against fish and get the most out of every situation. Since recreational opponents don't know much about strategy and often tend to be in the hand with 50-60% of their starting range, hitting a strong made hand for a professional often means substantial profits. In today's article we will talk about the most common types of "fish", after which we will give some tips on the tactics of the draw.

Who is a fish?

In the slang of Western poker players, the word "Fish" denotes a recreational opponent who plays poker for fun and does not bother with significant strategy studies. In addition, a "fish" is also sometimes called a beginner who has just started his career in poker and due to lack of experience is not able to withstand serious professionals.

Why is the idea of playing against the fish so attractive to many poker players? The fact is that in confrontation with such opponents it is very easy to have a mathematical advantage and make high profits over a long distance. At first glance, it may seem that Texas Hold'em is much more interesting to play with the professionals, because they understand ranges and are capable of believing in bluffs. In fact, for most regulars, the most important thing is the dollar / hour profit and the total win rate of bb / 100, and when playing against the fish, each of these indicators tends vertically upwards.

To effectively exploit recreational opponents, you need to have a clear understanding of the typology of “fish”. Several different classifications can be found on the Internet at once, but the simplest and most understandable is a list of the following styles:

find a fish in poker
  • Tight fish Are very careful players who only trade preflop when they have a strong starting hand. If such an opponent fails to make a strong combination on the flop, he often folds and folds. When confronting tight opponents, you should aggressively steal the blinds, but if you resist, it is better not to continue and just capitulate;
  • Passive fish - such a player rarely raises the bets, instead he seeks to see as many flops as possible and constantly finds himself in a draw with weak starters. Depending on how often the passive fish is dealt in a continuation bet, the effective strategy may differ. When in doubt about whether to bluff-cbet a missed hand, the best bet is to play ABC and fight for the pot in a more suitable situation;
  • Aggressive fish - Players of this type are constantly raising and showing aggression with weak hands, so it is enough for an experienced professional to just win all the chips. The main condition that must be fulfilled is to wait for a strong hand and show counter aggression, after which all-in preflop or flop will be ensured.

Strategy Tips

Once you have been able to figure out what type of fish is at your table, then you need to choose the right tactics and avoid costly mistakes. Each fish has vulnerabilities and predictable play lines that you just need to identify and make effective adjustments.

Against tight opponents, you should never continue. bluff postflop. If this type of player responded to your preflop raise, he probably has a decent hand and is able to catch the board frequently. To exploit a tight opponent, actively steal his blinds, but with a weak to medium hand, never aggressively respond to resistance.

When dealing with passive fish, it is important to learn how to get efficiently: place big bets with a strong hand to collect as many chips as possible against second or third pair. If you are playing an aggressive opponent who bluffs a lot, wait for a strong hand and calmly call each of his bets. Thus, now you know how to play against the fish and are able to apply this knowledge in practice.