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Starting Hands Revealed
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Are you a Poker Fish or Shark?
Poker players like to use animals to represent the different playing styles. A donkey designates a very bad player, or as they say online, a donk.
Phil Hellmuth in his book Play Poker like the Pros presents his own version with five poker types. The Mouse is like the rock or the nit, very tight and cautious. The Lion is the solid player using a TAG style.
Next is the Jackal who corresponds to the loose maniac, making wild plays and crazy bluffs. The Elephant is the calling station, who always wants to see the river. Finally he defines the Eagle as one of the top 100 players in the world, flying high and feeding from the other animals. Obviously this includes himself.
Online Poker Fish & Sharks
In the same vein, some of the most often encountered poker terms are fish and shark. Ironically, they have opposite meaning even though a shark is a fish in the animal kingdom. To say the least, a shark is indeed such a special kind of fish that it is a category in itself.
The definition of a poker fish is a below average poker player, who knows how to play but has a mediocre or at best average skill level. All beginning players start as fish as poker talent cannot be gained genetically. But do not worry if you are a novice player, Learn2Holdem.com contains plenty of material to help you improve your game.
Like its counterpart the shark in the ocean, the poker shark feeds off all kinds of fish. As the shark is almost never eaten by other fish, the definition of a poker shark is a top poker player who is normally the best player at the table.
Your goal as a poker player is to become a shark. You will become a shark by playing plenty of online poker, reading books & articles, using poker software tools to help your decisions & analysis and thinking a lot about the game. It takes a tremendous effort to become a poker shark, but once you get there you will enjoy the feast.
Become an Online Poker Shark
What makes a poker player a fish or a shark? One necessary ingredient is experience and there is no substitute for that. One way to speed up your acquisition of knowledge is to listen to the advice of experienced players and to focus on some specific aspects of your game.
The first fundamental element is to control your VPIP/PFR/AG. Many novice players want to play many hands and have atrocious VPIP of 50% or higher. Almost all winning poker players have a VPIP in the range [8-20] for full ring hold'em and [15-30] for 6-max hold'em.
The three secrets of hold'em poker are: fold, fold and fold.
A few exceptional players might be able to be winners with VPIP outside these ranges, but your initial goal is to stay within them. If you call too many hands, the average quality of your hand is low and the average result is a loss. Study a starting hand chart and play tight.
The second thing to learn is aggression. If you play passively, all the neighboring sharks will smell your blood. Aggression is a difficult skill to master. It is similar to driving a F1 racecar. If you do not know how to use it, you will go very fast and you will crash very fast also.
Normally it is believed that the optimal level of your PFR should be 2/3 of your VPIP, wherever the VPIP is. If you find out that your PFR is 2%, study your gave as there is something wrong with it. This is the PFR of a fish.
Finally AG represents your aggression postflop. AG must be high enough as well, preferably above 2. It means that postflop you should avoid calling as much as possible. If your hand is strong, raise. Else, fold. Easier said than done, but it should be your goal.
Learn to follow the Online Poker Fish
All players use poker software aids that tell them the value of these statistics for each opponent that they come across. Holdem manager is such a tool that tracks all the hands that you play and calculates plenty of statistics about you and your opponents' style of play. It can also be used as a poker fish tracker.
Another extremely powerful poker helper is pokeredge. This software keeps track of millions of online poker players, and it will tell you instantly who the fish are and who the sharks are whenever you just sit at a new virtual table.
There is no need to be a hero at the poker table if your goal is to make money. Hence you should aim at playing with weaker players. This is what fish lists are for.
Anytime you find a very fishy opponent, sometimes called a whale or an ATM, you should put him in your fish list or buddy list, so that the next time he appears online, you can join his table. At low or mid limits there are sometimes players with VPIP greater than 75% and these are to be included in the list, as they are very nutritious fish.
Smart Buddy is the ultimate software as far as poker fish finder tools are concerned. Create buddy lists that you enter into the Smart Buddy software and then you will be alerted whenever one of the fish in your list is playing online poker.
This universal software conveniently monitors players from over 100 online poker rooms and will open the table where your buddy sits if you click to join. You do not need to open any online poker room. Just one single Smart Buddy window will monitor all the online poker rooms for you.