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What Is a Fish in Poker?

Home » What Is a Fish in Poker?

What Is a Fish in Poker?

a man sitting at a poker table with his head in his hands in distress with playing cards, poker chips and a drink glass on the table in front of him

While online poker is played and enjoyed by millions worldwide, the level of competition has begun to spread out noticeably. Experienced, intermediate and beginner players fill up online servers with their strategies, styles and tricks — some more sophisticated than others. For novices, ensuring you don’t become exploited is crucial; that means avoiding silly bets.

 During a game, experienced players are constantly monitoring their opponents to identify the array of poker personalities and separate the good from the bad. Once they have analyzed the field, they can get a gist of who they can take advantage of the most. A good tip is to avoid skilled players and single out the bad ones. Read on to learn what a fish in poker is.

How Can I Identify a Fish?

 So, what is a fish in poker? Simply put, it’s someone who makes a lot of mistakes — usually a novice. Moreover, they consistently lose and rarely win. As far as competition goes, it’s hard not to lick your lips when you’re playing against a fish.

 From limping to overplaying, there are several tells to help you find the fish. However, it requires your concentration to be prevalent throughout a game, as the process of finding one is done by observing your opponent’s playing styles, betting behaviors and decision-making patterns.

Disregard for Positioning

two players sitting opposite each other at a poker table, one player checks his hole cards and the player opposite him pushes all his poker chips forward towards the middle of the poker table

Firstly, a fish tends to disregard their positioning, something that professionals constantly keep in mind. For instance, players in early positions have less betting power than those in late positions, as they’re the last to bet each round. So, if you notice a player making large bets out of position, they’re probably a fish. In a scenario where you’re holding strong cards and a fish is raising the pot, it presents a golden opportunity to maximize the pot and exploit the player. Call their bets and let the fish do the betting while you remain under the radar.


Limping is another habit of a poker fish. This is the process of entering a pot by calling rather than raising, for instance, calling the big blind before the flop. Although this is common, it shouldn’t happen consistently. A great way to take advantage of players who limp is by bluffing. If you asked an experienced player for a guide to bluffing, they would explain that there are three options: quick bluffs, semi-bluffs and total bluffs. Regarding exploiting a fish, either a quick or semi-bluff is a great way to steal the pot.


a close up of a dealer at a poker table holding up a red poker chip with stacks of poker chips on either side of them and playing cards fanned out in front of them

Another common theme is overplaying. Simply put, they play too many hands. To play poker effectively and smartly, this is not a viable option. Not only is it not economical, but it also suggests that they tend to play weak hands. A great way to overcome this is by increasing your hand range and playing more frequently when you have position on them. It sounds harsh, but singling out bad players to exploit their novice moves is something all experienced players do. External information is everywhere and should be one of your many priorities. From here, you can dissect the information to make the best possible decision.

Betting Behavior

 A player engaging in repeat betting behaviors is another great indicator of a poker fish. All good players know that spontaneous play is essential for success at the table. Otherwise, you risk your opponent’s identifying your style of play and betting against you accordingly. Because once they dissect how you approach certain hand ranges or betting behaviors, such as whether you rarely bluff, it decreases your chance of success. Be sure to incorporate bluffs, checks, raises and folds into your game to keep your competitors guessing.

 Inconsistent bet sizes are another sign of a fish. For instance, if they raise the pot in the flop and fold on the turn, it suggests that they don’t quite know what they’re doing. When dealing with a fish in poker, maximizing the pot should be at the heart of your decision-making. For beginners, understanding how to exploit the four types of poker players (loose-aggressive, loose-passive, tight-aggressive and tight-passive) is a great place to begin and ensure that you don’t become the fish. Playing poker online means coming up against players of all skill levels. And by learning basic strategy and countermoves, you can elevate the perception others have of you. Remember, players are always on the lookout for bad players to exploit. So, if they notice you’re one of those opponents, the rest of the game becomes long and tedious.

Play Poker at BetMGM

 Want to play poker online? Available 24/7, BetMGM provides the perfect opportunity to understand and test new strategies under game-play conditions. Register today, play with friends and explore extensive poker variations — from Texas Hold’em and Seven-Card Stud to Omaha.

 In addition to poker, BetMGM gives you access to an endless array of online casino games, from themed slots and bingo to roulette and blackjack. You can also check out the BetMGM blog for guides on how to play poker and more.

While online poker is played and enjoyed by millions worldwide, the level of competition has begun to noticeably spread out. Discover what a fish in poker is.