With all the new technology being used at the tables today, spotting a fish shouldn’t be too hard when you have extensive information and near enough every stat available on their play, ready at your disposal. But if you don’t use poker software or want to be able to spot the fish on your own, how do you go about doing so? There are some signs to watch out for when looking for fish.
Firstly if a player seems to be calling a high percentage of hands pre-flop, he is most likely a fish. This means they are calling pre-flop with weak hands, a perfect example of a bad player. Players who use this strategy are often labelled as calling stations, as obviously, they call with no regard to what they are holding.
Players who apply to the label above often have a loose-passive style of play. This means they call a lot of hands but do not play them aggressively and cave in to large bets. This is the best way to deal with these players, bet large on the flop and continuation bet if they call. You can almost guarantee if they call you down to the river they are chasing a hand, and if they respond to your river bet with a re-raise, you can be certain they have hit their hand.
Another way to spot a fish is by their betting patterns. A perfect example is when a player bets the flop, checks the turn and then bets out at the river once more in a last ditch attempt to win the pot. A player often does this because they have no other way to win the pot as they know they are beat, so they beat aggressively to try and force the other player/players out of the pot. Almost all players already recognize this play but there are still numerous players who try this. Of course the more advanced players will use this move to their advantage and play it as a disguise move when they really have a good hand, so be on watch if a good opponent tries this move.
A great tool to use to spot fish is the hand history feature. This will allow you to see what players have mucked when they went to the showdown and lost. If you have a feeling you may be sitting with a fish, observe hands they participate in and check hand histories whenever possible. You may find they call down to the river with Ace high and be able to use this to your advantage in future hands.
These signs above are the most common among fish. Of course there are other ways they play, but most will use these plays. Although it may feel rewarding to find fish without the aid of poker software, it will benefit your bankroll if you use these tools. Some programs even search tables around numerous sites finding a game which is full of fish, leaving you nothing to do but sit down and make some money. Also remember the saying "If you can't spot the sucker within the first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker."
One of the best poker rooms to find fish is Party Poker where you will find a lot of bad players, especially at the lower limit tables.