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Thinking Like a Poker Shark: Gone Fishin’

Although the heyday of virtual donkeys is well behind us, there’s still a fairly large number of online players who consistently give their money away. No doubt, these idiots think they’re hot salmon. Yet, time and again, they only succeed in spreading their own wealth around. The cool thing about these players is, if you can identify them early on you can easily land yourself on the receiving end of their charity. And, while the competition for fresh meat has indeed become fiercer over the years, figuring out who’s a poker fish is really just a matter of learning to read people. Of course, this skill could take you years to master—and think of all that fishy cash you’d be missing out on in the meantime.

So, instead of telling you to just “go fish,” we here at Fapur have compiled a tidy, little list to help you home in on the guppies in your pond. If you hear a player make any of the statements below, you should definitely take note and get ready to for a delectable morsel. If, on the other hand, you hear yourself making them, you should probably consider the following acronym: S-T-F-U….

  • “I HATE pocket Aces!”
    Amateurs almost always make the mistake of thinking pocket rockets are unbeatable, so they tend to play them entirely wrong. They’ll normally end up getting cracked in a few showdowns, lose a considerable amount of chips on each occasion, then turn around and swear it’s not as great a hand as everyone says. Obviously they’re not reading the board properly, and think they need to keep betting well after they should have folded. They don’t really hate pocket aces (how could you?), but they haven’t mastered the hand rankings or the concept of community cards well enough to realize that unless they catch a set on the Flop or Turn, they’re holding out on the weakest hand in the game (i.e., one pair).
  • “I’ve never had such lousy cards an all my life!”
    Contrary to what many fish believe, there is no grandiose conspiracy to rob them of their hard-earned dinero. Anyone who publicly blames his fortune on shoddy luck or incessantly accuses the dealer or the other players of cheating is either an idiot or a crybaby. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it’s not crap cards that are causing the problem. It’s crap decisions.
  • “My favourite starting hand is K-10”
    Favourite starting hands might as well be flashing neon signs that read: “Uma newb!” For some strange reason fish actually believe they’re better off with one of these lousy loads when, in reality, a good player only likes to see pocket rockets or a big slick. Be careful, though. Players who make such asinine statements might be working the sunfish angle, trying to hustle you with a seemingly easy lunch. Pay close attention to their tone, and if there’s any hint of insincerity, swim for it!
  • “You never should have played that, you know?”
    Players who insist on offering poker lessons to their opponents should be identified for what they are: weak-minded know-it-alls. If you get chided for taking a risk on the Turn or the River after winning a head-to-head with the same player, it won’t take much to put him on tilt. Try some more suited connectors or a lo pair until you hit, then watch him reel out of control.
  • “You wouldn’t believe what happened last night. I was playing a $10 SNG blah blah blah…”
    Ahh, bad-beat stories. We’ve all had our proverbial poker lunches handed to us once or twice, and for most players, these incidents are too embarrassing to dwell on. Your typical fish, on the other hand, knows loss better than anything else—knows it so well, in fact, that he’s forgotten that the object of poker is to win. What really irks most players about big-loss tales is that they’re normally as dry as a salted halibut’s behind and, more often than not, the person telling them expects some kind of response when he’s finished. “Yeah, that sucks,” is about all we can ever offer. Then, we give him another story to tell.