When You Swim With the Fish, Don't Tap the Glass

2007 WSOP at the Rio

If you play poker at all regularly, you're going to lose pots to ridiculous hands. And to ridiculous players.

Deal with it. This is a very simple concept.

Regardless of the outcome of any individual hand, the majority of the money you will make in the game will come from "fish" - bad poker players.

Keep it that way. DO NOT explain to the bad players why they are bad players. This is called "tapping the glass."

Why You Shouldn't "Tap the Glass"

A happy fish will be much more inclined to stay a fish than an unhappy one. If you make the fish feel inferior, they will want to evolve.

If you make someone uncomfortable, they're not going to be having fun in the game. If it's not fun for them, they're not going to play. There are lots of fish out there who don't care about the money, and are happy to give it away in the name of a good time.

In the words of Mike Caro, The Mad Genius of Poker (taken from Super/System 2):

"You shouldn't even care whether you win a pot. You should only care about making the correct decisions. Making quality decisions is the only thing you get paid for in poker."

Every time you make the correct choice you're making money in the long term regardless of what happens in that pot. This also works in reverse. Every time your opponents make a mistake, you make money.

tapping the glass poker

This is the only way you make money at poker. If you and your opponents all play the exact same perfect game together for an infinity, you will all end with the same amount of chips that you started with.

Making mistakes costs you money. As a poker player you have to accept this; it's how the game works. On the other hand, if you lose money because you blow up after losing a pot, well that's not cool.

Repeat: Do Not Tap the Glass!

When a fish makes a mistake, it is a far bigger mistake on your part to inform them of this. If a fish calls off his whole stack on a two-outer and spikes the river, be happy for the call; tell him "nice hand."

If you blow up, if you call him a donkey, if you type nasty things to him, if you do anything negative, he's going to feel bad, inexperienced and dumb.

This will make him take steps to not get himself into this situation again. Or, there's a good chance it will make him leave the game for good.

Keep a handle on your anger: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. You want to make fish believe that their every win is skill and every loss is just rotten luck.

A fish never makes a poker mistake - make them believe it.

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Keep Your Strategy Tips to Yourself

Also be careful to never mention anything that comes close to advanced, good poker.

We don't say words like odds, outs or EV or mention the price they were getting laid in the hand. If the fish doesn't know the poker term you use, then they will naturally feel in-superior at the table.

Remember, they win because of skill; they lose because of luck.

I empathize with the pure rage that results from a ridiculous beat. I've been there; but if you can't keep your anger under your hat walk away from the table.

Not only will you say things you shouldn't, but even the self-proclaimed "un-tiltable" players will not be at the top of their game while angry. Any extreme emotion will negatively affect your game.

Related Reading:

How to Deal with a Glass Tapper

When you encounter someone making these mistakes on a table, you can politely mention for them not to tap the glass and then change the subject to something non-poker related.

tap the glass poker

I've gone as far as to ask the person to step off the table to chat with me, where I can politely request they stop tapping and explain the reasons out of earshot of the fish.

(The simplest way to get someone to leave the table without it seeming odd to anyone is just stand up and ask them "Hey man, can I ask you a quick question?")

If you have someone being belligerent and he won't cease the assault on the fish, try to befriend the fish - make him feel good again by taking his side.

"Wow, that guy's being a jerk. He's just a sore loser because you have all his money."

Make them feel good about the win. They won because of skill and that other guy's just a sore loser.

Respect Other Players

Remember, poker is not by any means a noble game. It is your job to make as much money from everyone else as you can. At the same time, it is a game of respect.

Without respect for the other players, the dealer, the rules and the room, poker will not function. Almost all of your money comes from the fish so they truly deserve the most respect on and off the table.

Related Reading:

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Stop Talking Poker Strategy at the Table!

You're still going to lose pots to ridiculous hands; keep dealing with it. And for the love of god, people, stop talking about poker strategy at the poker table.

Along with gills, fish have ears. Talking about random poker strategy hurts you in many ways:

Funny hat guy

1) The fish learns some, or all, of the concepts you're talking about.

2) The fish can't comprehend the concept but now understands the game requires far more thought and study than they had previously believed.

Most players come into the game viewing it as being little different from any other game they have played in their life. They know that the more you play the better you get but they don't fully realize how in-depth the game of poker gets.

When a player who's taking poker at face value starts hearing you mention reverse implied odds, it will clue him or her in to the fact there is a lot to learn.

3) Many fish believe they are good poker players. When you're talking about strategy they don't understand, they start to feel inferior. When this happens, they will rock up or leave.

Worse than talking about random strategy is talking about and analyzing previously played hands at the table. It's one thing for a fish to grasp a poker concept or theory but it's common for fish to have a difficult time applying the concept to the actual game.

Talking Strategy is -EV

When you start commenting on an actual hand played, they get instant feedback on any mistakes they may have made. Even the biggest fish will learn from this, and get better.

When you say "If you had gone all-in, I would have folded," you've just made sure they will go all-in next time. Even if the fish has no idea what you're talking about, talking about the hand still gives valuable information:

"His reverse implied odds were almost nil. He should have smooth-called to try and trap another player into the pot."

A fish will have no idea what you just said. But he will understand he should have called. He doesn't know why exactly, but it sounded pretty smart, so next time he'll just call.

Talking strategy, or poker at all, on the table is -EV.

Related Reading:

Joe Sebok
Don't be fooled by the costume.

Faulty Poker Logic

One of my favorite things in poker is hearing faulty logic. Fish will create their own ideas of how poker works.

Some of these ideas are pretty close to being accurate, and some are outrageous. As a sophisticated player it's your job to propagate the outrageous ones among the fish.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

All Flush Draws Are 50% to Hit

The logic behind this one comes from a poor understanding of probability, statistics and math. Luckily for us, the majority of the world isn't very good at any of these things.

Here is the fish logic:

A deck of cards has four suits. We flop a flush draw so we need one more like-suited card to come. Four suits give us a one-in-four chance of our suit coming: 25% to hit.

We get two chances to hit (turn and river) 25%*2 = 50%. Conclusion: all flush draws are 50% to hit.

All Hands (Heads-Up) are 50-50 Pre-Flop

This logic is much more impressive. No person knows which three cards are going to come on the flop.

Any cards in the deck are just as likely to come up as any other cards. Any two cards will win when the board hits them.

Conclusion: Any two cards are just as likely to get hit by the flop as any other two cards, making them clearly 50-50 pre-flop.

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Keep the Fish, Fish

You might feel like you're being a nice guy helping out a fish by giving them a few pointers. Maybe you feel bad for taking their money, so you point them toward some good poker books or Web sites.

You have to remember that trying to be nice to this one fish will cost everyone else a lot of money. You're being nice to one person only to upset countless others.

We play poker to make money. You can be a nice, wonderful person and still teach fish nothing. You could take their money every day for the rest of your life and have them love you for it.

Always be a nice person but for your own sake and ours, do your part in keeping the fish, fish.

Related Poker Strategy Articles

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bhander singh tomar 2012-02-20 05:48:23

very very best

bennie99 2009-10-08 09:02:00

It is true that tapping the glass is important. Depending on the sitution, it can be differcult to do. I'm alot better than I was when I first started playing, but If I'm playing an MTT and some fish hits a 2 outer to knock me out, I'm gunna still tell them! But yea, in a cash game I wouldn't do that. I sometimes leave the table and switch to a new one if I feel that I'm tilting due to bad luck.

Sean Lind 2009-05-12 17:32:00

I'm going to have to disagree with what you're saying Racoon. Your theory only holds up if you're playing on a short bankroll.

If you have a premium, and you're called by 3 or 4 random hands, you're behind the feild (so you will lose more than you'll win), but you're you have enough of an edge, that you're getting great odds on the play.

So you make lots of money, even with the suckouts and beats you take.

RacoonCity 2009-05-12 06:51:00

When you are in a table full of fish players, you will more than often end up loosing your chips to them. If you go allin with a premium hand and you got called by 3 or 4 players with what ever hands they have, you can just kiss your chips goodbuy. One shark kills one fish at a time, too many fishes kill a shark at anytime!!!!

Raffi 2008-03-25 22:37:00

To be even more pedantic...

You would all end up broke, since the casino or the internet site would slowly rake in all your money!

If 2 players play heads up limit poker (the worst scenario for the players) for say 2-3 hours there will oftn be exactly ONE winner: the site!

Wow, that actually even made myself a little sad...

Super Womble 2008-03-11 12:51:00

'If you and your opponents all play the exact same perfect game together for an infinity, you will all end with the same amount of chips that you started with.'

To be pedantic, if you played for an inifinity you wouldn't end up will the same chips, as you would never end!

Schorsch 2008-03-11 11:37:00

Bad beats suck. And sometimes they could make one really freak out! This article's point of view is a very well one to consider when you find yourself steaming up. I tried it in my last real-life tournament and felt it made my table image more calm and cool. And it helps very much to stay in a good mood in casino and on-line poker respectively.
Thank you very much for this worthy thought!!!

Schorsch

Madhatr 2008-03-11 11:34:00

i shall have a fishy on a little dishy, i shall have a fishy when the boat comes in'

FlashJ 2008-03-04 21:27:00

Good read, if only more online players would realize this. I can't count how many times I read "That's why i hate [poker room] so many donks like you sucking out!" As you mentioned, you WANT them trying to suck out. Its how you make your money. Saying "I can't win here with fish sucking out like that" is an oxymoron. If you can't beat the fish you should re-evaluate your game.

my two cents

FlashJ



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