If you’ve ever played poker, you’ve likely heard the term “fish” used to describe certain players. But what does it really mean to be a “fish” in the world of poker? And how can you spot them at the table?

We’ll explore the ins and outs of this popular term. Including what it means, how to recognize a fish, and how to take advantage of them during gameplay.

What is a Poker Fish?

Simply put, a “fish” in the world of poker is someone who doesn’t really know how to play the game. These players are often inexperienced and tend to make mistakes. They may be unaware of basic strategies, like when to fold or raise, and may make bets that are either too small or too large.

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Why Do Players Use the Term “Fish”?

The term “fish” is often used by more experienced players as a way to describe those who are easy to beat. Just like a fish swimming in a sea of sharks, these players are seen as easy prey for more experienced players. Some players may even target fish deliberately, seeking them out at the table in order to take advantage of their inexperience.

How to Spot a Poker Fish

So, how can you tell if someone at the table is a fish? Here are a few telltale signs to look out for:

1. They Make Consistent Mistakes

One of the easiest ways to spot a fish is to look for consistent mistakes. These may include things like overbetting, playing too many hands, or failing to recognize strong hands when they have them.

2. They Don’t Seem to Understand Basic Strategies

Another sign of a fish is someone who doesn’t seem to understand basic poker strategies. For example, they may not know when to fold, or may fail to recognize when they have a strong hand.

3. They Seem Nervous or Anxious

Fish may also give themselves away through their body language. They may appear nervous or anxious or may give away tells that reveal the strength of their hand.

4. They Are Easily Intimidated

Finally, fish may be easily intimidated by more experienced players. They may fold too quickly or make decisions based on fear rather than strategy.

How to Take Advantage of a Poker Fish

If you spot a fish at your table, there are a few things you can do to take advantage of their inexperience:

1. Play More Aggressively

Because fish tend to play more passively, one strategy is to play aggressively when you have a strong hand. This can help you take advantage of their tendency to call or fold too quickly.

2. Exploit Their Mistakes

Another strategy is to exploit the mistakes that fish tend to make. For example, if a fish consistently overbets, you can use this to your advantage by folding when they make large bets and raising when you have a strong hand.

3. Stay Patient

Finally, it’s important to stay patient when playing against a fish. While it may be tempting to go all-in right away, this can often backfire if the fish gets lucky. Instead, take your time and wait for the right opportunity to strike.


In poker, the term “fish” is often used to describe inexperienced players who make consistent mistakes. By learning how to spot a fish at your table, and by taking advantage of their inexperience, you can increase your chances of winning. So the next time you sit down at a poker table, keep an eye out for those telltale signs of a fish.

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Remember, even experienced players were once fish themselves. So, don’t be too hard on them; use their inexperience to your advantage.

Required Reading

There are many great books about poker that can help players of all skill levels improve their game. Here are some of the best:

  • “The Theory of Poker” by David Sklansky – This classic book covers the fundamental theories behind poker strategy. It is considered a must-read for serious poker players.
  • “Harrington on Hold’em” by Dan Harrington – This three-volume series is a comprehensive guide to Texas Hold’em tournament play and covers everything from basic strategy to advanced concepts.
  • “Super System” by Doyle Brunson – This iconic book features contributions from some of the best players in the game. It covers a wide range of poker variants, including Texas Hold’em, Seven-Card Stud, and more.
  • “Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em” by Ed Miller – This book is a great resource for players looking to improve their no-limit hold’em game at lower stakes.
  • “Every Hand Revealed” by Gus Hansen – In this book, professional player Gus Hansen takes readers through every hand of a major tournament he won, providing insights into his thought process and decision-making.
  • “The Mental Game of Poker” by Jared Tendler – This book focuses on the mental side of poker and provides strategies for dealing with tilt, anxiety, and other psychological challenges that can affect players.
  • “Ace on the River” by Barry Greenstein – This book covers a wide range of topics, including the history of poker, the business of poker, and advanced strategy concepts.
  • “Elements of Poker” by Tommy Angelo – This book is a collection of essays on various aspects of poker, including tilt control and bankroll.
  • “Mastering Small Stakes No-Limit Hold’em” by Jonathan Little – This book is aimed at players looking to improve their game at the lower stakes and covers everything from pre-flop strategy to post-flop play.
  • “The Godfather of Poker” by Doyle Brunson – This memoir by legendary poker player Doyle Brunson provides insights into the early days of the game and Brunson’s own journey to becoming one of the greatest players of all time.