A common complaint of new poker players who are just starting to get into poker strategy is that they cant beat all the bad poker players or “the fish”. I’m sorry to break this to you, but, if you cant learn to beat these players, you will not profit from online poker. The bad players or fish are essentially where most of your profits should come from, so it is essential to know how to beat them. In the following article I hope to expose the fundamentals for doing this.
There are two types of bad poker player. There are: A) Aggressive bad poker players and B) Passive bad poker players. Aggressive bad poker players are in my opinion the most profitable poker players to play against, there also the rarest, you encounter them alot less often than the passive bad poker players. Your profit against the aggressive bad players will come them making huge bluffs against you with no hand, or bluffing into you when you show strength. Against passive bad players you will make money by making better hands than your opponent and value betting them strongly when you do.
Aggressive fish: Typically have a high VPIP (Percantage of hands played) and high preflop raise perentage and are usually insanely aggressive postflop. Its not uncommon to see a 77/55 (Plays 77% of hands preflop and raises 55% of them) The most common trait about them is there super high aggression frequency. They will bet far too much without a hand or any kind of equity, they will frequently checkraise as a bluff or other insane things like that. Against these players you have to plan ahead in the hand, you need to know what your going to do to a flop checkraise (If they appear to be raising alot) before you continuation bet the flop.
Aggressive fish will typically do alot of things that don’t make sense. Typically they have no idea about hand ranges or hand reading so will make alot of mistakes. You need to be able to pick up on the spots that “don’t make any sense”, or that “they would never valuebet here”. Essentially, you will find a ton of spots where the aggressive fish is betting but his bluff range is so wide and his value range is so thin. When you see these spots you need to be able to make the big calldown.
Passive fish: The passive fish although probably less profitable than the aggressive fish (Aggressive fish loses his money fast and disappears forever) are alot more prevalent in the online poker scene. Categorized by almost always having a high VPIP and low PFR, aswell as having a low aggression factor and aggression frequency. Example stats could be 40/10/1 (Plays 40% of hands, raises 10% and has an aggression factor of 1, IE super passive). Passive fish are passive in nature so will not bet alot, when they do they will usually have a hand (but its not always the case, you can get passive players who hardly ever bet, but when they do its actually a bluff… I know, totally retarded right?). The biggest thing you need to know about passive fish is that they like to call alot and don’t like folding. What this means is you essentially can valuebet them thinly and ruthlessly but shouldn’t try to bluff them because they will likely call you down with marginal holdings. Don’t try to bluff the passive fish! They will not notice that you are giving up 3/4 pots you play with them and on the 4th time you bet 4/5th pot every street with top pair top kicker, they will still call you down with middle pair or top pair weak kicker.
I wrote an article about isolating limpers, this has huge relevancy to playing the fish.
You rarely want to slowplay your big hands. Especially against passive fish, passive fish do not bet much, so you will be giving up too much value by checking it and expecting them to bet. There may be some merit to say slowplaying a set against an aggressive fish (Especially on a dry board) because they will continue bluffing on many turns and river. However, in alot of spots, especially wet boards or semi-wet boards you will want to bet or raise your hand to get the aggressive fish to do something stupid, like show shove allin with a weak top pair or marginal draw.
I also wrote a few articles about 3-betting. The general consensus is that when playing against fish, you need to merge your 3-betting range in position and out of position. The reason is both aggressive bad players will call 3-bets far to wide whether they are in position or out of position. There is alot of value in isolating an aggressive fish’s open with a hand like AJ AT KJ KQ type hands when they are calling you out of position with hands such as any ace, suited connectors, small pairs etc etc. You will profit alot more than flat calling with these hands because you get the opportunity to play the pot heads up against the fish, instead of a multiway pot against other regulars and the fish. The reason why this is awesome is because you will then not have to share your profits with the other regulars and get to play a large pot with the fish all by yourself. By now, you should know that this is a wonderful and profitable thing.