The huge popularity online poker has achieved recently, has all but guaranteed a steady stream of fish hitting the tables and bringing their bankroll along, to satisfy the hunger of the few sharks who truly understand what he game is all about.
In the poker room and rakeback reviews available on this site, one thing keeps popping up: the fish factor, measured as being directly proportional to the percentage of players seeing the flop on each hand, on aggregate. There is quite a bit of truth in this approach: one way to tell a fish from serious poker players is to analyze how many hands he sees the flop on. Going in to see the flop on 8, 10 offsuit is one thing, but seeing the flop on such hands 5-6 times in a row is another.
Hands like Q, 2 - J, 6 and so on are also fish traps, and as hard as it may be for you to believe it, these guys keep calling on such hands from early positions, only to later fall for a steep late-position raise. If that ain’t called ‘donating’, nothing is…
So, we have two typical rookie mistakes so far: playing an inadequate hand, ( you go in on the flop with your J,6 then the flop comes J, Q, A and you’re all happy about it. Heck, you have a pair, why shouldn’t you be? But then again, out of the 9 players who also saw the flop one will have an A or Q right? Or maybe even more. But an A or a Q will already have you beat.) and not recognizing the importance of position (calling on a weak hand from an early position)
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A third mistake right here, might be the fact that our player doesn’t recognize the fact that playing a large ring game is different from playing a short handed game, in terms of what you can really take down the stretch. This difference I’m talking about, is nothing to disregard. While in a short handed game you’d stand a pretty good chance, at showdown, with your pair of Js, in a large ring game, with 6 or more players in, a pair is never worth taking too far.
Chasing down an inadequate hand (like the one described above) is a typical rookie-thing. These guys will often go for gutshot or open ended straights, despite pot odds suggesting otherwise. This takes me to the next big poker mistake ( one that plagues reasonable players and rookies alike): tilting. Tilting is without a doubt the worst enemy of any reasonable player. (I’m not saying ‘good’ player on purpose, because in my opinion, good players have their ways of dealing with tilts.)
Tilting is like going out to play football in swimming trunks. It leaves the player completely defenseless against a bunch of opponents all padded out and wearing helmets. How do you like your chances paying football in your underwear? Well, you need to know, when you’re on a tilt, your chances are about the same at the poker table.
Bad players have this heavenly gift of being able to send reasonable ones on a tilt, simply by their astonishing good luck, or via the sheer stupidity they exhibit.
Consider the following scenario: our “reasonable player” is sitting in the big blind, in the mid-stages of a tournament holding a pair of 7s in the pocket. He doesn’t really like low pocket pairs, but since it turns out, seeing the flop will cost him nothing, he is glad to see he just flopped another 7. Trips are something worth to make a move on indeed, so he raises, especially that the board texture looks good too. Some guys suddenly decides to go all in. Now, our player knows this other guy can’t possibly beat his trips so he calls the whole deal and waits. Pocket cards are revealed ( it’s an online tourney) and he notices the other guy has nothing indeed. Then the turn hits this other guy dead on, then the river hits him too for a K-high straight. Our ‘reasonable’ player knows he did everything right, and he knows this other guy did nothing right whatsoever… he goes on a tilt. This is where he makes the mistake. Poker is not only a game a skill, there’s an element of luck in it, too.
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That is pretty obvious to all involved, however, dealing with this luck-factor is a different thing altogether. A good player will write the whole incident down to “extreme bad luck” and won’t let it mess up the style he’s been using, despite the fact that it just cost him big. This is the difference between a good and a reasonable player: the ability to maintain self-control, and to deal with the luck factor accordingly.
Another situation when the fish will get the better of any ‘reasonable’ player, is schooling. Just imagine you going up on your trips against a bunch of guys with gutshot straights. If you were to be faced by only one of them, the chances of him getting it right, would be minor. If there were 6 of them calling you with different gutshot or open ended straights your chances would decrease 6 times on the spot, as any of them would have a chance at their straight.
This ‘schooling’ phenomenon (named after the natural reaction of large crowds of otherwise defenseless fish when faced with predators in the nature) is usually a spontaneous one and not something the fish can voluntarily pull off. It would seem though, that bad poker strategy can also be a factor uniting these guys and thus pushing them in the same direction.
- by Joseph Pierce