What is a Fish in Poker: Understanding Game Rules and How to Play


If you’ve ever found yourself at a poker table, you might have heard the term “fish” being thrown around and wondered what it meant. In the world of poker, understanding the lingo can be just as crucial as mastering the game’s rules. So, let’s dive into the concept of what a fish is in poker, how to spot one, and strategies for both playing as and against a fish.

What Does “Fish” Mean in Poker?

In poker, a “fish” refers to a player who is less skilled than others at the table, often making poor decisions and losing more money as a result. Fish are typically new to the game or simply do not play strategically. Identifying a fish can be a significant advantage, as more experienced players can adjust their playstyle to win pots from these less skilled opponents.

Characteristics of a Fish

  • Lack of adherence to basic poker strategy
  • Playing too many hands (loose play)
  • Overvaluing weak hands
  • Showing little regard for position
  • Making inconsistent bets

How to Play as a Fish

If you’re new to poker and might currently be considered a fish, don’t worry! Everyone starts somewhere. Here’s how to gradually swim out of the fish category:

  • Learn Basic Strategies: Familiarize yourself with the fundamentals of poker, including hand rankings, the importance of position, and when to fold.
  • Play Fewer Hands: Adopt a tighter playing style by only playing stronger hands.
  • Observe Others: Pay attention to more experienced players at the table to learn successful strategies.
  • Practice Bankroll Management: Only play with money you can afford to lose, and avoid jumping into stakes that are too high.

How to Play Against a Fish

When you identify a fish at your table, adjust your strategy with the following tips to maximize your advantage:

  • Play More Hands: Broaden your range slightly to play more pots against the fish.
  • Value Bet: Fish often call bets with weaker hands, so make sure to value bet your strong hands more frequently.
  • Avoid Bluffing Frequently: Since fish are known for calling bets with weaker hands, your bluffs will be less effective.
  • Be Patient: The key to winning against a fish is patience; wait for strong hands and then capitalize on their mistakes.


Understanding what a fish is in poker and how to adjust your gameplay accordingly can greatly enhance your chances of winning. Whether you currently find yourself in the category of a fish or are looking to capitalize on their presence at the table, remember that success in poker comes with experience, strategic play, and an ability to adapt to your opponents. Keep learning, observing, and adjusting your strategies, and you may find yourself swimming in winnings.

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