Part One: Where Did Online Poker Fish Come From?

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The explosion of televised poker tournaments and lipstick cameras has ushered in a new era of poker popularity. Thousands of new players flocked to the game, mainly the Texas Hold ’em variation, hoping to emulate their TV heroes for fame and fortune. The logical starting place would be the local cardroom, where new players can try to improve their game against real players. Unfortunately, casinos don’t exist in many places of the country. Others may feel too intimidated to enter a physical cardroom for the first time.

Enter online poker.

Beginning about four years ago, startup companies began to cash in on poker’s new popularity and create online poker rooms. New poker prospects could play online anonymously from anywhere at anytime. Just fund your account, choose your game, and play your cards against thousands of real players from all over the world. Over these 4 years, online poker has become a booming industry. New players who’ve just watched Daniel Negreanu crush the competition at a WPT event rush over to their computers to deposit with the poker room with the coolest commercial. Thousands of inexperienced players can enter any online game so long as they have the buy-in.

Enter the fish.

This is the new breed on online player. They’ve watched Chris Moneymaker take home a couple million bucks by putting in his whole stack with nothing. They’ve watched professionals raise with A-5 offsuit from late position and catch two fives on the flop. Why can’t they do it, too?

Usually they’re harmless. Players who know their stuff, read and study poker books, and stay on top of their game can make a killing off of this type of player. They’ll bluff off all of their chips when you have the nuts and you’ll love it. They’re also dangerous and can put you off your game. How many times have you been on Party Poker playing $1-2 No-Limit Hold ’em and raised 4x the big blind with A-K and get called by A-5 only to watch the flop come A-6-5 rainbow. “Great!”, you’re thinking as you reraise your clueless opponent for all his chips. You don’t catch a K on the turn or river and you’re left wondering why he stayed in the hand at all.

You try to shrug it off and you get dealt pocket Aces the very next hand. Your fishy buddy has position on you so you just call the big blind from early position. Everyone folds to him who makes the minimum raise. Why do these players do that so often? What’s the point? How many times have you seen this open up the betting action and the smooth caller comes back over the top of the minimum-raiser for a huge raise? Everyone folds. Why don’t they either call or make a real raise? Or why don’t they go find a Limit game if they’re going to play like that? Oh, well.

Anyway, everyone folds back to you and you just call the minimum raise hoping to trap the fish. The flop comes J-4-9 rainbow. Another seemingly great flop for you. You make a good pot-sized bet here and the fish comes over the top and raises you all you’ve got! You decide to call as he turns over J-2 offsuit. Finally you’ve got him! The turn brings a K and the river brings a deuce. You pound your computer monitor as you click to exit the poker room. You’re down $400 with two premium hands.

“Why me?”, you ask the Poker Gods in the sky. It happens. These are real hands that I’ve been involved in, and something similar will probably happen to you (if it hasn’t already) if you play online poker much. My goal is to teach you how to keep these situations to a minimum, and if it does happen anyway, how to deal with it without blowing off anymore of your chips.

The keys are hand selection, proper play, and discipline.

Continue to Part Two…

Back to Poker Strategy

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