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Targeting Weak Players in Cash Games

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Why Targetting Weak Players at Cash Games Will Make You More Profitable:

Playing poker is all about making money and you see a bunch of fish at the table you should look at them as “cash points”.  While ocassionally you’ll lose money in”suck-outs” playing against fish in the short term (for example when someone calls your two-pair “all in” with bottom pair and hits a set), what you need to understand is that these players are extemely profitable to play against.  I know a number of high stakes cash games players who keep a track of all the poor players for this very reason.

How to Play Against Fish

When you’re playing against weak “calling-stations” there are a few adjustments you should make to your game.  These all serve to increase your expected value against bad players as well as minimising the short-term risks from playing against them.

Make Sure You Isolate the Fish at the Table: The most important thing in a tournament or cash game (especially in live games which bring lots of donks) is to “isolate” your opponent and enter as many pots as possible with him heads up.  The term “isolate” here refers to the fact that we’ll be stopping other players getting into the hand by raising them out of it.  Now, in order to successfully isolate the fish at the table you need to be making big pre-flop raises of about 3-4xBBs in mid-late position so that everyone folds around the table – except the fish.  Ofcourse this won’t work all the time but the more pots you can get heads up with the bigger your ability to out-play him and get to his chips (and more important – making sure you’re getting his free chips and not someone else).

Make Lot’s of Value Raises & Overbets: You need to increase your bet-sizes against fish to extract maximum value with your good hands.  While a normal player would fold to overbets on the river or turn without a hand, weak players will call you down most of the time.  By not betting the maximum amount possible for a call you’re leaving money on the table.  Overall I recommend your bet sizes are 20-50% higher against weak players. For example, instead of a half-pot bet on the river I will bet 75% of the pot.

Play Tight-Agressive (TAG): Folding your marginal/weak hands is the most important thing to do against maniac players.  You should adopt a tight-agressive strategy at the table to avoid getting into complicated hands pre-flop – just incase your opponent actually hits a monster and ends up getting your chips after you call him down with a losing show-down hand.  In a 6-handed cash game playing tightly means only entering pots with premium hands 1010/AJ+ in early positions, and high broadway cards/suited connectors in late position.

Conclusion on Fish at the Tables

In conclusion, fish can be a pain in the neck when they win a big pot against you by sucking-out, however in the long-run they are very profitable to play against as long as you adopt the right strategy.  Although reading a fish’s hand or narrowing down his hand range is virtually impossible at times, the fact that you’re only letting yourself play premium hands should mean you’re almost always ahead of his range.

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