The single most effective method for making more money with poker is to play in fishy games against loose opponents. Doing so makes it easier to get paid on your big hands. Weak opponents call way too many bets as they chase too many draws and get too attached to subpar hands. Whatever their rationale, loose players are always good to see at the table.
Best of all, you don’t even need to improve as a player to make more money. The simple act of taking your current skillset to a loose poker site alone is enough to increase your win rate. It’s never a bad idea to grow as a player obviously, but the point is that loose poker sites result in more money coming your way all other things being equal.
How I Find and Identify Fishy Poker Sites
There are a couple ways to determine which poker sites are the loosest. I’ll explain each of these in greater detail below, but here’s the short of it:
- Players to the Flop %
- Average Pot Size
- Personal Experience
- Market Position of the Poker Site
Players to the Flop
If you visit the cash game lobby of most poker sites, you will see a stat for “players to the flop” listed next to each table. This stat tells you how many players, on average, see the flop every hand. The higher this number is, the looser the table is playing.
Average Pot Size
You can also take a look at the average pot size statistic provided in the lobby of most poker sites. This number tells you about how large the average pot has been over a certain number of recent hands. Bigger numbers are better as they indicate lots of money is moving around, which in turn indicates the table is playing loose.
Average pot size is only a moderately reliable indicator because it can be easily skewed. Sometimes the cards just work out to where two people get strong hands and both are justified in going all-in. If this happens once or twice in short succession, it skews the average pot size upwards. Even so, this number is worth a look. Given no other information, I’ll always take the table with the bigger average pot and you should too.
Additionally, you can get a sense for how fishy the games are by playing in the games yourself. This is a much more time-consuming method, but it gives you firsthand information. If you’re experienced, you can determine pretty quickly how loose the general level of play is. Do the players regularly show down with marginal hands? Do you see a lot of open-limps before the flop? You’re probably at a loose table.
Over time, you can get a good feel for how the site plays as a whole. This isn’t the most analytical approach and it probably doesn’t help for the purposes of this page, but it does work if you know what to look for. As you get more experienced with poker, you’ll start to get a feel for these things.
One other thing I’ve noticed is that some poker sites naturally attract a greater population of casual players. This is most noticeable in poker rooms that are attached to online bookmakers. In these cases, the website as a whole is marketed as being a place to bet on sports first. Poker is just an add-on. You end up getting more casual players who originally came to place a bet on football or whatever but ended up in the poker room for one reason or another.
Other sites are online poker rooms first. Two examples would be PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. Both offer other forms of wagering (sports, casino games and so on), but their number one claim to fame is online poker. These sites naturally attract more dedicated poker players. Most people don’t sign up for an account at PokerStars so they can play blackjack. They are there specifically for the game of poker. This leads to a slightly more dedicated population of serious players.
Your Mileage May Vary
None of these are hard and fast rules but I have generally found that these indicators are pretty reliable when taken as a whole. If you combine table statistics, your own experience and the market position of each site, you can develop a fairly accurate read on how loose the players are at any given site.
These are the methods I used to rank the above list of loose poker sites. Your experience may vary depending on the time of day, time of year and a million other factors but overall, I’ve found these to be fairly fishy poker sites.
I’m Moving Up to Where they Respect My Raises
Playing against fishy poker players can be an exhausting exercise in patience. How many times have you found yourself seated in a micro stakes game, caught a premium hand and raised it before the flop only to get 4 callers? You place a pot-sized bet on the flop, a pot-size bet on the turn and enter the river with 3 people still in. Eventually you reach the showdown and you see that the bumbling idiot over in seat 2 backed into the most ridiculous gutshot straight draw and cracked your Aces with 4-9 suited. Geez!
This is going to happen at fishy poker sites. It’s going to happen more than you like. It’s going to be frustrating. It’s also going to be extremely profitable. You only make money in poker when your opponents make mistakes. The more mistakes your opponents make, the more money you have up for grabs.
One of the oldest jokes in online poker is for someone to complain about a bad beat in some poker forum and everyone else to chime in and tell him “well, you better move up to where they respect your raises, bro!” This is always a tongue-in-cheek response.
A few years ago, it was actually a thing people said in seriousness. It used to be almost common for newbies to show up at some poker forum, complain about some bad beat and then make the proud proclamation that they’ve decided to move up in stakes to where the people actually play real poker, gosh darn it.
Listen. All poker is real poker when played with real money. These people ARE playing real poker. They may not be playing the most strategically sound game, but that’s a good thing. Your responsibility as a student of the game is to learn how to beat these players. You don’t beat them by bluffing, semi-bluffing and trying to bully them around. You beat the fish by playing solid, fundamental poker. You know, like waiting for strong hands and then betting when you have made hands.
That’s really all there is to it. Yes, there will be more bad beats when everyone calls everything, but frequent bad beats are a sign that you’re playing at a loose poker site. Bad beats happen as a result of your opponents making fundamental mistakes. Fishy players are the easiest players from which to extract money. It just requires a little (or a lot of) patience.