You will see these players most often at the very lowest stakes with stats that look something like this:
These are the limits where a typical bet size often isn't even as much as the price of a coffee. Therefore, if they have any kind of a draw they are calling. If they have bottom pair they are calling. If they have ace high, king high (hell, sometimes even 8 high), they are calling! You need to remember that these players play the game in order to catch you in a bluff or make their long-shot draw to win a big pot. Logic and mathematics be damned. They get a thrill out of playing sheriff or making something ridiculous on the river.
There is no point in getting mad at these players, or even worse, trying to educate them. You need to accept them as they are and realize that their existence at the tables is one of the biggest reasons why this game is so profitable. If you look at long term win rates (loss rates in this case) these players pay a heavy price for their terrible play. Often they are losing at 20bb/100, 30bb/100, 50bb/100 or more! They are literally giving away their money (at a very fast pace) in the long run.
So since we know exactly how these players think about the game the only thing that we should be concerned with is how to most profitably counter it. There are two main points with regards to this that I want to cover in this article. The first one is mental, the second one is technical.
Do Not Get Frustrated
As mentioned it is extremely important that you do not to get frustrated when playing versus fish who don't fold anything. We already know that they are going call if they have any piece of the board so what is the point in getting annoyed when they go ahead and do just that? Let's be honest here. The only reason that it is frustrating sometimes is because either a) you aren't hitting anything or b) they are hitting their long-shot draws much more often than they should. It is important to remember though that neither of these two events are normal.
When you are playing fairly good cards like most regs do these days (I suggest about 15% of hands in full ring and 20% in 6max) then you are going to have a decent hand after the flop a good amount of the time. Statistically you will make at least a pair after the flop around 1 out of 3 times with a completely random hand. Since you are playing much better than a random hand you will hit the flop even more often than this.
Sometimes though you will have one of those sessions (or even a couple of them in a row) where you just cannot hit a flop, turn or even a river no matter what. On the other hand, sometimes you will have sessions where you literally knock it out of the park every single hand. Curiously we tend to remember the former much more vividly than the latter. That is a topic for another post though. What is important to understand here is that neither of these two events (hitting nothing or hitting everything) are normal.
Also sometimes you will experience a session (or a few of them in a row) where these recreational players will hit every ridiculous draw in the world. We call them "long-shot draws" for a reason though. We all know that mathematically you don't hit a gutshot straight draw very often for instance. It is roughly 11 to 1 with one card to come and 5 to 1 from the flop to the river. Same thing with bottom pair. Guess what normally happens when you call down the whole way with bottom pair? Yup, you guessed it! You still have just bottom pair on the river.
However, just like we discussed above, sometimes they will hit their ridiculous draws with a much higher frequency than they should. On the flip side, sometimes they will hit even less often than the odds would dictate. Once again, we tend to recall the former much more vividly than the latter. And also once again it is important to remember that neither of these two events are normal.
Value, Value, Value
So from a technical standpoint what is the most profitable way to counter the fish who doesn't fold anything? Well clearly trying to bluff them will be the worst strategy possible. We already know that these players love to call with anything and one of the very reasons that they play the game is to catch you in a bluff! Trying to bluff these players is pretty much like kicking the ball directly into your own net.
This is why I stressed above that we need to stay calm against this player type when things aren't going well. This is because the tendency can be strong to get over-aggressive and "make something happen." They can't have it every single time! I will show them what is up!
Their bottom pair is still way ahead of your ace high. And guess what? They are going to call the whole way with it. By attempting to bluff them off of their hand you will simply lose much more money than you should have and also manage to tilt yourself even more!
The correct and most profitable strategy versus the fish who doesn't fold anything is to value bet the living crap out of them. And then value bet them some more! Now it is important here for me to define what I mean by "value bet." The reason why is because this is a relative term. Betting the turn or river for value against most nits for instance requires a very strong hand. This is because these types of players often will not go past the flop without something really strong like top pair, a solid draw or better.
However, we already know that the whale described in this article will call you down with two napkins. So therefore we can lower our standards significantly when value betting against them. Any strong hand like top pair or better is an easy three streets of value. Middle pair can often be good enough for three streets as well versus a complete drooler with no fold button. There are even some spots where we could get some really thin value with hands as weak as bottom pair or ace high.
Super Thin Value!
One of my favorite spots to get thin value on the river versus this player type is on a double paired board like this:
I will always bet the river here with 99, 88, 77, 66 or 55. This is because they will never fold ace high on this board. I will also frequently make a bet here with ace high as well because sometimes they won't be able to find the fold button with king high either. We chop at worst.
Boards where there is an obvious missed draw is another spot where you could go for some super thin value versus a recreational player. On this river for instance:
You could often make a profitable value bet versus the doesn't fold anything fish with Tx, 6x or any pocket pair such as 99, 88, 77, 55, 44 or 33. The reason why is because this player type will often call down with a hand like AK or AQ the whole way here. And with the river pairing a low card they will be even more inclined to look you up. Sometimes they won't even be able to fold the most obvious missed draw here which is KQ. It is important not to bomb the pot in cases like this. We want to toss out that teaser bet of half pot or so which will make them just curious enough to hero call you with their ace high or king high.
Keep Calm and Value Bet On
So I hope this article helped prove useful to some of you guys battling these crazy fish at the lowest stakes. They show up all the time at the lower limits especially if you play at easy poker sites.
It is important to remember two things when playing against these player types.
1. Stay patient
Stay patient when you can't hit anything and they are hitting all of their crazy draws. Remember that this is not a normal occurrence and these players pay a heavy price in the long run for their terrible play.
2. Full Value
Make sure that you are always getting full value versus these players with your big hands. My first book, Crushing the Microstakes, is also literally ALL about this topic.
But also make sure that you are getting that thin value versus these whales as well. This is about effectively countering their style of play. We often do not need anything close to the nuts in order to extract value from them.
Lastly, make sure that you look out if they ever do find the raise button especially on the later streets. We often have a tendency to dismiss the actions of fish altogether. But the fact remains that they get to hit their flush, straight and two pair sometimes too.
They get dealt strong hands just as often as we do as well. These players are typically about as passive as you can get. When they finally decide to wake up you would be best served to give them a little bit of respect sometimes.
Let me know how you approach playing against huge fish in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!