What to Do Against a Lucky Poker Fish (It Might Shock You)

How to Deal With Somebody Who Keeps Getting Lucky Against You at the Poker Table
We all have that nemesis at the poker table who seems to get lucky against us every time. Sometimes it can be a regular good player. But most of the time it is a recreational player.

And the reason why is because these are the types of players who are known to play all sorts of hands and chase every ridiculous draw. Therefore, when they are hot, it is going to seem like they are playing the game in god-mode to you.

I know that this can be a very difficult thing to deal with especially for newer and inexperienced poker players. So in this article I am going to tell you how I learned to deal with people who keep getting lucky against me at the poker tables.

They Are Getting Lucky For a Reason

First off, what does it even mean to “get lucky” really? Well, essentially it means that somebody keeps winning when the mathematical odds were not on their side.

Here is an example of a bad poker player who got extremely lucky against me:

So in addition to crazy hands like this, they keep hitting that flush draw on the river for example against your top pair.

But remember, a flush draw only has about a 30% chance to win the pot. There are only 9 cards remaining in the deck that can help them win after all.

So let’s break it down even further then.

What we are really talking about when we say that somebody keeps getting lucky is that they play bad. And this is because no good poker player would ever keep putting their money in the pot with a 30% chance to win.

But the main reason why poker is so profitable is because while you might hit some lucky cards in the short term, you cannot fight the math and expect to win over the long run.

Math always wins in the end. And therefore, by playing bad, they lose.

Don’t Personalize It

So you should actually be happy that you have people in your game who are willing to just give their money away to you like this over the long run. While they might get lucky against you today, they are really just handing their money away to you over the weeks, months and years to follow.

And this is why it is really important not to personalize it against these players. What I mean by this is don’t focus on this individual player. You should focus on the entire mass of bad poker players who like to get their money in with 30% equity instead.

Here is another example of a lucky fish (don't personalize it!):

Because here’s the thing. It is quite possible that this fish keeps getting lucky against you all day today and keeps nailing his miracles on the river every time. And it is also quite possible that you will never see him again.

But as long as you are table selecting properly, there will always be another bonehead like this who will take his seat next time. Chances are, that guy won’t get quite so lucky against you.

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Think Like Las Vegas Does

Another strategy is to think about poker like Las Vegas does with their gambling games like roulette, craps, slots etc. All of these games are basically unbeatable.

The house has a very small but clear mathematical edge which you will not win against in the long run.

This is why they still say goodbye to you with a smile even when you buck the odds and take their money. It doesn’t matter to them because there are 40 million more tourists that will fly in each year and eventually the math will win out in their favour in the end.

Don’t take it personal against this one particular goofball at the poker table who keeps getting lucky against you again and again. View bad poker players as one large school of fish instead.

One of them might get lucky against you today, but if you use a solid winning strategy against them again and again, then you will always be the one laughing over the weeks, months and years to follow.

And that of course is all that really matters.

Don't React With Frustration and Tilt

So we have already talked about how getting lucky really just translates to playing bad. And also how you need to view these bad poker players from a broader perspective.

But I get it, believe me I do.

It is not always easy to keep your cool in the heat of the moment when somebody is getting lucky against you at the poker table again and again. We do tend to take it personal and get pissed off. It's natural and it's human.

I think this can be even harder to deal with in live poker because you have to look at this clown sitting across the table from you raking in your chips again and again.

But what you have to remember here is that by reacting with emotions like anger or frustration, which will potentially put you on tilt and cause you to start playing badly, all you are really doing is playing into their hands even more.

If you start playing more hands for instance, running wild bluffs for no good reason and making that "crying call" even when you know you are beat again, it is only you who pays the price for this.

You are taking a situation which sucks, but isn't the end of the world, and turning it into a potential disaster where you are just spewing off stack after stack to this luckbox. These are losses by the way which might take weeks or even months to fully recover from.

As difficult as it might seem in the moment, this is the time to show what a true professional you are, take a deep breath and control your emotions.

If you feel yourself getting a little hot under the collar, then there is absolutely no shame in just standing up from the table and taking a break or even leaving completely for the day.

Whatever you do, when somebody gets lucky against you at the poker table again and again, don’t react with anger and frustration. The only one who loses from it is you.

Don’t Play Scared

The other important thing to avoid in a situation like this is changing your game and playing scared. And believe me once again, I know the feeling all too well.

I often call it “skeletons in the closet” syndrome. This means that you are constantly thinking that you are beat even before you play a hand.

This can cause you to play sub-optimally in many situations. For instance you might start limping with a hand as strong as AK or just check/calling with a strong over pair after the flop like QQ.

By reacting like this though you are also playing right into their hands. Because just like with tilt, you are willfully throwing away even more money to them which has nothing to do with bad luck, only bad play on your part.

You know that these are sub-optimal plays which lose money over the long run. Sure, you might psychologically save yourself from losing another big pot if they get lucky again but this defeats the entire purpose of the game.

Winning poker is all about getting the most value with your good hands and losing the least with your bad hands.

This is something that I discuss in much greater detail by the way in my best selling poker book, Crushing the Microstakes.

So limping AK for example or not value betting your QQ can never allow you to get the most value with these hands.

Playing scared like this is actually another form of tilt that rarely gets discussed but it can be just as damaging as the wild bluffs and bad calls that we just talked about above.

It is vital to remember that no matter what happens at the poker table, you need to always keep making the same correct plays again and again. That's how winning is done in this game.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with somebody at the poker table who keeps getting lucky against you again and again is one of the most difficult things to handle in poker.

After all it doesn’t make any sense at all.

You are the one making all the right plays. They are the suckers putting their money in the middle with bad odds. And yet your “reward” for outplaying them is losing your money!

But this is also the primary reason why this game is so profitable in the first place. These bad poker players need to be able to get lucky every once in awhile or they wouldn’t keep coming back again and again to give their money away.

It is important to remember that even though you are losing to their bad plays, nobody is above the math in poker over the long run. They will pay for it eventually.

This is also why you should avoid making it personal against any one particular bad player. By continuing to use a proven solid winning strategy, you will win in the end when it really matters.

Lastly, it is extremely important that you don’t take the situation from bad to worse by reacting with frustration and unnecessarily tilting off even more money to them. You also need to avoid playing scared and missing out on value because you are afraid to lose.

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Let me know in the comments below how you deal with someone who keeps getting lucky against you at the poker table.

poker getting lucky


  1. Don't let the fish turn you into fish :) I just go on a 5-10 second swearing rant and then I'm fine again and back to normal play

    1. Haha, I have been known to do this as well, only when playing online of course!

    2. it is trully fascinating ... most people in real life see me as this cool calm dude ... but if they ever saw me rage at a poker table or a video game .... they will be like : OMG who is this guy ? Not even my own parents ever saw me get very mad at something and I am 27 years old.

  2. I had this a couple of weeks ago. I lost 5 stacks to the same player across 3 tables. Was ahead up to the river each time. Every time I thought he can't have it again?? But he did. Should I have been calling his river shoves though? You know, he was like call-call-river shove. I would lose 2 pair to trips, trips-straight, straight to flush. Even boat to higher boat!

    1. Ya it's tough, happens to everyone sometimes. Fish don't really balance their ranges nor do they run big bluffs when they are already up big. So I would be inclined to just keep folding to the river shove no matter how improbable it seems.

    2. Thanks for the reply, I think I was steaming and should have folded to the river shove, I reckon I knew I was beat so sound advice. I think there was probably one I couldn't get away from: I flop a set on a A high flop, bet like 2/3 pot and got called, turn 9, I bet big again and get called, River A and he shoves, he has A9, I even figured on that one I was probably beat but with already 60% of my stack in by the turn I think I have to call?

  3. Nathan,
    Great post that couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I have been trying to get better at this and it can be tough at times. I’m going through this right now been about 3 weeks where I’m getting it in with 70+% and getting rivererd or runner runner on me. One thing I feel helps is to remind myself that if I have 70+% equity then I have gotten it in really well and it will turn back to my favor eventually! Also sometimes I feel like you need to laugh it off when these fish get super lucky with less than 20%. Tough to deal with but just try and remind yourself that you got it in very good.

    1. Hey Jake,

      Glad I could help. That's the right way to think about it. Laughing it off helps also, all you can do sometimes.

  4. great advice. come across these idiots with the same results often. very frustrating.

  5. Yesterday, I got called a fish at a 6 max cash table. I will admit i was playing lag style . withing 30 minutes 3 of the players involved in that conversaton left the table because I started taking their money.

    1. Getting called a fish, always the sign that you are doing something right haha!

  6. sometimes when someone keeps getting lucky with subpar hands, I just start raising it up preflop and post-flop if i have a decent hand, they will call until the river and usually lay down at that point.

  7. Very intelligent article focusing on the "big picture". I am someone who loves "getting back" at someone who has lucked out against me in sport, but as you say, poker is largely about the Math & the long run. Similar articles from yourself have significantly helped me in those "lucky fish" moments. Great stuff mate.

    1. Thanks for reading and glad I could help!

    2. Hi Nathan
      I normally play 10nl on sky poker and its 7.5% rake and £1.40 cap.i looked at microgaming and its 5% rake 0.40p cap.nut sure how rake works but if u hand 6bb win rate on sky what would that be on microgaming.ps keep the great content coming!

  8. Anonymous20 January

    This is a very important article.

    Not taking it personally is the most crucial thing IMO and it took me quite a long to realize this.

    These days what i only do, is to shower them with a bunch of curse words and oath and immediately I feel relaxed and I continue my session like nothing happened.

    1. Thanks Nick, glad this article helped!

  9. the only thing I think was "missing" is when you talk about players "putting money in the pot with only a 30% chance to win."
    let's make sure that we aren't letting them put that money in "good" by offering them great odds through poor bet-sizing.
    my online poker career started out as a HUGE fish, but I was playing against players even worse!
    they would flop the nuts, min-bet flop, min-bet turn and overbet shove the river.
    but by the river, I had gotten there with some stupid runner-runner that they begged me to make, then paid me when I got there.

    1. Hey ekw,

      I agree completely. I guess I may have missed that in this article but I am definitely all about blasting the pot to deny them their odds.

  10. Very frustrating. Just lost in a big tourney to a guy who seemed to have no rhyme or reason to his play. I lost on the river to him 3 times and eventually was eliminated.
    First hand I lost, I was the chip leader, this dude had been raising 20x BB preflop regularly. But this hand he was the BB. I raise from middle position 4x BB with AK clubs. He calls and a guy in early position calls. Flop comes Kd Th 8d. Check, check, I bet a pot sized bet 2200 (because this tourney people weren't folding their draws.) Both called. Next card is a blank. 3c. I bet 5k (fish had about 6k left, I had about 15k. He stupidly calls (now I know he has a draw) other guy folds. I know I should've put him all in. Unlikely he had K 10, KK,AA, or 10-10. But regardless, the next card is a diamond, I knew he got the flush, he went all in, I had to call the extra 1k. He turns over Q6d.
    Later I had K-10 suited. Called from the button, flopped two pair. K,10,7. I bet half the pot, he calls, we're close to even in chips. Next card is a blank. He checked called to a big bet again. Next card is a 7. He bets big, almost like he's stealing. I knew he had the 7 though, but I paid him off. Again, he got me on the river. He had 9-7 offsuit.
    Finally, I lost with K-J suited. I called a raise preflop K-6-4 on the flop. I'm 4 to a flush. I bet about 1/4th of my stack. He reraises to nearly my whole stack. So I go over the top all-in. He had K10. Not only could I not get a club, but he got a 10 on the river.
    So people play stupid and they get super lucky. This is the part of poker that I hate. You can't bet these fish off their hands. So if you bet big, it just builds the pot and makes them pot committed, but if you bet small, you'll still get sucked out on, or don't get paid when you have the best hand. Im at a loss as to how to win against these idiots.

  11. I hear this argument all the time, and I get it. However, it's really only valid if you're focusing on one player. Sure, eventually that one player will get his ass handed to him/her if they continue playing this way. Problem is, we're not against that one player. We're against 2 or 3 of them at a time. Skill or not, when you have 3 players calling and chasing everything you can't beat them. Yes in the long run you can take them down individually. But 3 or more at a time? i don't think so.