Top 7 Signs You’re a Poker “TAGfish”

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

tagfish poker

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.

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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.

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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.

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4) You Overestimate Your Implied Odds

what is a TAGfish poker

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.

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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.

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6) You Look at Each Decision as a Separate Entity

stop being TAGfish poker

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.

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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.

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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.

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2010-12-20 07:28:23

I seriously think this category covers 80% of players online today. Therefore I think a better idea for a follow up article would be: how to exploit TAGfish. Although the content would lean towards a book rather than an article ;p

2010-07-27 08:33:41

Sounds very fimiluar. altho not all the time i would also like to see how tto cure it plz.

Johnny Cashout
2010-07-23 23:38:11

Wow, great post. Looks like I can be a TAGfish at times too, I definitely agree with reason #1.
Estimating your opponents hand range is important but thinking about what they expect your range is even more critical IMO
Keep it up,

Johnny Cashout

2010-07-23 04:07:44

wow, im a tagfish as well! Or at least until someone else writes another article that I try to agree with to help define myself

2010-07-02 15:59:23

Hey whats up Daniel,

I need some clarification on number 4 of the list–overestimating implied odds. Is calling raises from the blinds with low pocket pairs (say, 6’s and lower) and low suited connectors (67 and below) and then check-folding post-flop unless you hit hard unprofitable? I understand you were writing about calling POST-flop and then check-folding which is obviously not going to show a positive expected return.

Sue D. Nymme
2010-01-27 18:25:02

This article describes TAGfish syndrome nicely. I recognize some of those traits in myself. But the advice at the end is pretty useless.

“Do your best to think about the benefits of each possible decision” — but as described in point 2, the TAGfish thinks he IS making good decisions. He’s just wrong.

“Play better poker, you dope” is good advice, but not very helpful. Perhaps the author could follow up with more articles, addressing each point in more depth.

Thanks for the article, Dan.

2009-12-23 00:52:37

So What this article is saying is if your thinking about making poker your full time job you must know how to play every game on a top level, when playing Hold’em you don’t play your hand you play your opponent’s and also play Hold’em as if you are playing chess you always want to be at least 3 moves ahead, Learn how to confuse everyone you are playing against by giving false tells such as maybe when you have a hand go to show down and you were dealt a strong hand and you noticed that maybe you shuffled your chips before betting,well do the same thing when you are bluffing, also learning the importance of pot odds and implyed odds, And although you may think it is a good idea to try playing the same way as a top pro not a good idea you can take bits and pieces from other player but you must form your own techniques and stratagys,when you sit at a table study each players style in order to pick up tells also give yourself an image at the table before you start to play big pots if you want to have a tight image then sit back for awhile until you believe you have been tagged as the image you want and also slow playing hands can cost you money there for learning how to get max value from every hand you are involved in witch takes alot of practice cause slow playing and trapping two different things and many players do not understand that. Trapping a player means just that think about what the other player puts you on then play the hand that way if u think he is putting you on a draw then bet as if you are on a draw,if he puts you on air missing the flop play it that way, and if he puts you on the nuts the play it that way, slow playing is highly over-rated and will cost you money by you checking you may allow the player to cetch up or by checking you give him control of the hand and puts you in a difficult spot remember you always want to be in control of every hand you are in and knowing where you stand meaning you pretty much have good reads on what the other player has n this is when poker becomes fun and quite profitable. Do Not Play Blind Poker!

2009-12-16 02:57:13

Thank you for this article this is me to tee i really needed to read that and sit back!

2009-12-12 20:34:19

I too would love a follow-up article on how to avoid being a TAGfish!

2009-12-03 14:50:47

Thank you for this FANTASTIC article. I do recognize myself to a certain degree in many of the points you made.
Thank you for pointing out these very subtle but very important tips.
Very astute ibservations.


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