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Adjusting to Fish in Low-Stakes 6-Max Limit Hold’em

Strange as it may seem, many players who go looking for weak players in poker games end up not knowing what to do once they find them. Quite often they make the wrong adjustments and end up either recycling money or becoming frustrated and thus leaving what are immensely profitable opportunities.

It is only a few weeks ago that I read about a strong player who was having an experiment at NL50 and lost forty buy-ins before they pulled it around. I find this somewhat staggering but that’s a different story.

If you are using tracking software then you may want to know what type of metrics you need to be looking far to class a player as a fish. It should also be mentioned here which level I am talking about. Primarily you can find fish at all levels even up to middle limits although they are somewhat rare these days. A typical fish would look somewhat like the following when addressing tracker stats, 58/10/0.5.

There will be slight variations on this but any player who is entering lots of pots by limping and has a low aggression factor is a definite fish. Their low PFR means that you can narrow down their range quite well when they raise pre-flop so you can deny them value on their better hands and punish them when they are behind.

These are perhaps the most exploitable players in limit play or in any form of poker for that matter. Their low aggression factor means that they call too much and they do not raise! You will find these players at levels like $1-$2 and with the very high rake at these levels then you may just need a couple of players like this to make a decent rate.

We all know how weak passives tend to play but many players will not be aware of what their metrics look like on trackers. It should really go without saying that you should value bet these guys to death even with mediocre hands like second and third pair. Make them pay with their bottom pairs and weaker hands. Even if your weak fish is calling you down with the better hand then they are still making a mistake by not raising you with the best hand.

If the situation is heads up for instance on ragged boards and you bet as a bluff and get called on the flop then you need to be wary about continuing on the turn. If you are playing someone who is really weak then do not expect to bully them from the pots.

Also, don’t try to be some hotshot on the final table of some big televised tournament and try to out psyche your opponent. You are far better off leaving that to the guys on television. Simply make the best play that gets the most money and if that is the straight forward play then make the straight forward play.

Ideally you want to sit to their left as you want to play pots against these players. If you sit to their right then you will not be playing many pots against them as you will be playing TAG with something along the line of 31/23/2.2 so your opportunities to play with them will be reduced.

Against a fish then you can broaden your range somewhat but do remember that your position coupled with exploiting their obvious post flop playing patterns will be your biggest earner. Not all fish will have the metrics that I have just described and not all fish will be found in low-stakes games either. A player could be a very strong player but if he is outclassed when taking into consideration the level of company then they are the value in the game.

So what this means is that there will be fish at all levels. The metrics of a fish at $30-$60 would be dramatically different. In this instance then the basic conventional metrics of a player could look quite strong on the surface with something like 32/24/2.0 but yet if their post flop play was exploitable then this player could be classed as a fish by the top pro’s despite being a very good player.

In the next article I would like to look a little more closely at the main characteristics of weak players in low-stakes limit play and look a little closer in what they do and why they do it.

Carl “The Dean” Sampson can be seen at www.pokerloco.com/thedean

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