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Loose Passive (FISH) Opponent Strategy

Evan Jarvis

When the phrase "bleeding chips" was invented, I'm pretty sure this was the player type the creator had in mind. 

Loose Passive opponents, also known as ‘Fish’ will give you their stakes for no reason, so it's not hard to see why they're my favourite poker player type. Top pair - or any pair - is enough for a reason for Fish to jump in the pot. Slowly but surely, these guys will give their money away since they'll never try to make a real move; they'll never try to steal a pot, but they love to call and then fold later in the hand. This means you can steal the small pots and the big pots from them.

Sometimes I wonder if these guys lost their F1 and F3 keys, because all they seem to do is check and call. 

Spotting a Fish

Identifying Fish is easy, and you don't really need to look at your Poker Tracker stats to pick one out. Still, I'm a stats man, so let's look at them anyway.

Fish will typically have a high VPIP (around 50%), be it in a full ring or short-handed game, an extremely small PFR (around 2%) since they'll only raise with As, Ks, maybe AKs and Qs, but not much else. Finally, their aggression is 0%, maybe 1%.

Fish love to see flops for almost price, with almost any cards. If they limp, they'll probably call the raise about half the time. That's a ton of garbage they're seeing flops with - and since they raise so infrequently, it's easy to play against them when they raise. 

Before you reel ‘em in, just be aware...

Fish so rarely bet that if they do bet, they probably have something strong, so don't call them to keep them honest. And whatever you do, DO NOT double these guys up. It will take a good half hour to get your money back, if someone else doesn't get it first. 

Strengths

They’re Unbluffable

They love to call with any pair, even Ace high, so don't bother try to steal their pots via bluffing. It's like trying to steal from a bank: sure they short term reward may be nice, but it's probably not going to pan out long term. Your value with this player comes from playing your made hands. 

Weaknesses

  • They’re super loose and passive pre-flop.
  • They love to limp at call raises with garbage.
  • They fail to raise and re-raise with hands that warrant it pre-flop.
  • They will almost always have the worst hand going into the pot, and if they don't, they're just going to limp with it.If they have a hand they want to see the flop for a limp with, they'll probably still call for 5x. Even if they have a crap hand (like JK off-suit) and are heads up facing an under-the-gun raise. They want to see that flop, and they will, no matter the cost. This flaw carries over to post-flop. They don't seem to have a fold button.
  • They call too much with very weak hands.
  • They never raise. This is great value for us, since we get the exact value for our made hands. No matter what, the Fish is going to call, even with garbage.

Adjustments

Here’s how you should change your game when you encounter Fish...and you will. 

Value bet

Bet BIG. Don't bluff. You want to extract maximum value. The Fish is going to call no matter what, so it doesn't matter if the bet is big or small. If you have the goods, bet.

Widen your range

You can also bet a wider range against Fish, and you can value bet more hands. Top pair is almost always good for value, since they'll call you down with bottom pair or under pair. Sometimes even mid pair is good enough, depending on your Fish. 

Just keep in mind that when it comes to the river, you don't want to value bet too thin. Fish will always call with their good hands, just as they'll always call with their bad hands, so don't get yourself trapped on the last street. The Fish is always going to let you off the hook by offering you the chance to check behind the river for showdown. So if you're unsure - because this guy is just as likely to have a good hand as a bad hand - check behind. No shame in it. It's smart playing. 

Isolate a wider value range pre-flop

If the fish is limping with 50% hands, you want to be raising 25% of your hands for straight-up value. That way, when you see the flop, you'll have the best hand most of the time. 

The more hands you play against this opponent, the more opportunities you will have to get value from them - that's why you should widen your isolation range against them. Until the table adjusts and starts re-raising your isolation plays, this should be your pre-flop go-to plan of attack against this type of player. 

So, again, raise a wider range for value (like instead of just KQ, you would raise KJ, QJ, maybe even JT), and don't forget to raise your speculatives. These guys will pay off like slot machines. 

Call raises with Jackpot hands

This gives you huge implied odds. Fish will usually only raise QQ or higher. Take your chance to bust the fish before someone else does - they're only going to have that stack for a short time.

Induce bluffs when draws brick on the river

Now, I've said that Fish only call for the most part, which is true, but there's one unique situation where you can make a Fish bluff and get value with a hand that has no business getting value. If there is a draw, and you are out of position and you've bet the flop, and then you bet the turn against the Fish with a pair or better, and he's just calling you down, which is what he'll do, and this is happening on the river, you should check. Unless you have the nut pair, like As, odds are about 50/50 that you have him beat if he has a pair. 

However, a large part of his range is going to be draws because there's a lot more combinations to make a draw than to make a pair. If he has the draw, he will fold if you bet the river, but if you check to him on the river, the Fish will realize he can't win the pot by checking behind since he has no hand. Instead he will often stab, even a pot sized bet too so be prepared to call a big one. His hope is that your check meant weakness. Wrong! This way you can snap his bluff with a very weak pair. It's the one time a fish will bluff and you can get more value for your hands. 

So, to sum up: remember to value bet the hell out of these guys, don't bluff, but go for that free value when the draws break out on the river.

Happy Fishing!


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