Everyone knows today's online games are heavily populated with tight-aggressive players (otherwise known as TAGs).
But to go along with these good, money-making TAGs there's a growing number of break-even or slightly losing regulars known as "TAGfish."
On the surface, it may be hard to distinguish a TAGfish from a winning regular. He buys in full, tops up every hand, has decent enough stats and plays what he thinks is good poker.
But he can't seem to win. And that's because there's more to poker than having good stats.
Poker is a thinking man's game; you can't just imitate what you've read and become some money-printing robot. You have to be able to apply what you've learned and make good decisions each time the action is on you.
A TAGfish doesn't. He just plays the same game all day, every day no matter the situation. And he perpetually loses/breaks even, thinking he's the most unlucky player on the face of the earth.
How to Tell If You're a TAGFish
1) You Think About Your Opponent's Range but Never Your Own
Everyone knows you have to try to put your opponent on a range. It's one of the most fundamental skills in poker.
But a TAGfish doesn't think about his own range in doing so.
An opponent is going to play the hand a few different ways according to what he thinks you have.
You'll never be able to accurately put your opponent on a range without first thinking about your own perceived range.
- How (and Why) Thinking in Ranges Improves Your Poker Game
- How to Put Your Opponent On a Range in Poker
2) You Misapply Skills You've Learned
A TAGfish tries to learn to play better poker. He watches videos, read articles and studies the game extensively. But he misapplies the information he's learned.
He'll learn that continuation betting and giving up is bad, so he'll just fire every second barrel.
He'll learn that to exploit players that c-bet too much you can float the flop and take away the pot on the turn, but he'll float with pure air instead of gutshots or hands with backdoor capabilities.
He'll learn that three-betting light is profitable, but he'll do it regardless of his opponent's three-bet calling frequency. And he'll do it with the wrong hands.
He only learns half the skills. He knows what to do, but then misapplies when he should be doing it and who he should be doing it against.
3) You Call the Same Range in Cut-off and On the Button
A TAGfish treats the cut-off and the button as the exact same position.
If an opponent raises from early position, he'll call in the cut-off with 69 thinking it's perfectly fine because he'll be playing the pot in position.
But that just isn't the case. You've still got one more player to act behind you and if he's any good, he can make your life a living hell.
That player can three-bet with impunity whenever you call with your weak, speculative hand, he can call and steal your post-flop position and he can punish you after the flop.
Where good TAGs abuse the button, a TAGfish allows himself to be abused by the button.
4) You Overestimate Your Implied Odds
A TAGfish thinks every time he makes the nuts he's going to win a stack. He thinks if he calls from the blinds with a pocket pair and nails a set, he's going to win an opponent's whole stack every time.
So he calls with his speculative hands post-flop, check-folds when he misses and, when he finally makes that huge hand, he makes his opponent fold.
He bleeds all his money trying to hit that hand and then when he does hit, he never makes that money back.
5) You Have Leaks Post-Flop
A TAGfish typically plays fine pre-flop. He has that part of the game solved to a degree.
He knows he can't limp Q9o upfront and expect to show a profit. He knows AK needs to be raised for value, etc. But once the flop comes, his mistakes start to compound.
Knowing when to fold pre-flop is easy. But knowing when to ditch top pair, bad kicker isn't. Knowing when to double barrel and when to triple barrel is hard.
A TAGfish plays his own cards too often and the situation and his opponents not nearly enough.
- How to Play Better Post-Flop Poker: A Beginner's Guide
- How to Play Better Post-Flop Poker: An In-Depth Guide
6) You Look at Each Decision as a Separate Entity
A TAGfish gets caught up in a tough decision and thinks, "Man, this spot sucks. What the hell do I do?"
Really, it's not what he just did that put him in that spot; it's what he did earlier in the hand.
He doesn't have a plan in mind for the hand. He just acts and figures it out from there.
He plays reactive poker instead of proactive poker.
- Poker Tips from Pros: Calvin Anderson Reveals Proper Poker Thinking
- Why You Need to Make Every Poker Play for a Reason
7) You Tilt Too Much
A TAGfish doesn't tilt in the true "five-bet ship 58o" sense of the word. But when he's losing, he definitely doesn't play his best.
He rushes decisions. He slips into auto pilot. And, worst of all, he plays far too long. A TAGfish loves trying to get unstuck and will play all day trying to get unstuck - all the while playing C-game poker.
Yet when he has a winning day, he'll quit early and play small sessions, booking a small win.
TAGFish Syndrome is Curable!
If this sounds a lot like you, don't worry. TAGfish syndrome is curable.
The answer: concentrate on making the best decision every single time the action is on you and take your time. Sometimes the best possible play won't come to you right away.
But if you do your best to think about the benefits of each possible decision, you'll be making more good decisions and less bad ones. If you want to win more money - and stop being a TAGfish - that's exactly where you need to start.