Which Online Poker Sites Have the Most Fish?
Seeking out the easiest poker games is just as important a skill as knowing the finer details of strategy. To put it simply, if you spend time seeking poker sites with a lot of ‘fish’, your profits will improve.
This page covers finding the easiest online poker rooms in a lot of detail. This includes the relative difficulty of different poker formats – and how to spot fish at the tables. Here is an outline of how the topic is broken down:
The single biggest factor making one poker site ‘easy’ and another ‘tough’ is the balance of amateur (or recreational) players to pro grinders.
Grinders are profitable players who spend hours in the games playing at multiple tables. They ‘grind out’ a profit from each game. While each table alone might not generate much profit, even at the lower buy-ins, a grinder might be making $8 / hour over 8 or more games. This adds up to a good hourly rate.
These grinders use poker tools to identify and exploit inexperienced opponents.
Let’s start by looking at two sites, one which is ‘grinder heavy’ and one which is not.
With 100 grinders and 100 recreational players at this site, you might think things are reasonably balanced. When you add the multi-tabling, things look grim. If each grinder plays an average of 6 games at once, and the recreational players stick to a single game. There are 600 seats filled with grinders for every 100 seats with amateurs. Those are hard odds to overcome for people who play poker recreationally.
Those rooms attached to sportsbooks or that ban tools are not so grinder heavy. Of course, profitable situations will still attract some pros. Let’s say the ratio is better here, with 50 grinders for every 100 recreational players. Those grinders now play an average of 3 tables each, giving a 150 / 100 ratio of experienced (winning) players to amateurs.
You might be able to beat some of these pro players.
Choosing a poker site which is not full of pro-grinders is the first step to allowing your bankroll to last long enough to have a shot!
Even if you have an edge against small stakes pro grinders, you should still try to avoid them. The reason is that these players are taking money from the games. They are also taking money from the occasional fish that comes to the table with little poker strategy knowledge.
Your hourly profits will never be as good if you choose a site filled with grinders. While for some players, beating the ‘regulars’ might be good for the ego – it will never be great for your bankroll!
The concept of a ‘fish’ in poker is a relative one. You might be the best $1 / $2 player in your local casino, a true shark. Head to the $10 / $20 tables online, and you instantly become the fish. Even someone who crushes those stakes would be a target in the huge games in ‘Bobbies Room’ at the Bellagio.
If you have skills from live poker games, then you’ll need to step down in stakes when playing online. There is a big skill gap, with experienced pros at the levels where equivalent buy-in live games are mostly full of fish. If you can beat $1 / $2 live, your relative skills might match with the 5c / 10c to 10c / 25c games online – depending on how easy the poker room you choose is.
Pro grinders like to use software tools. These make playing at multiple tables easy by collecting statistics on opponents. Once you are aware of these tools, you’ll know that finding sites which ban or restrict them is a sure-fire way of making bigger profits.
Here are the types of tools you’ll find used against you:
You now know the dangers out there at the online poker tables. The good news is that there are still some easy sites and soft games. The next section flips things around, showing you what to look for in a site to have the best chance of easy games.
Poker rooms can be divided into three distinct types.
Once you have established that your room has a way of attracting new players, it is time to check out more details. Questions to ask include:
Does this room incentivize multi-tabling? Rakeback schemes are a red flag here, though some loyalty schemes are profitable enough to encourage ‘nits’ to sit in 10 games at once. If a room restricts multi-tabling, then you will know the pro / amateur ratio will be much better.
Does this room restrict of ban poker tools? Without their tools, grinders find it more difficult to multi-table.
Does this poker site have a source of new / amateur players? Sports betting brands are number one on this list, along with some big casino brands. You should also consider sites like 888, who have big marketing budgets to attract new players (for example their World Series of Poker sponsorship).
Does this site have beginner tables? Tables which only new players can sit at are a great sign. This means that the poker room is aware of protecting new players – at least until they have a chance to build experience in online play. These rooms (and sometimes tournaments) are typically open for 30 days.
Now that you know what to look for in terms of finding a soft site, here is a look at the major offshore US poker rooms. These are compared to the risks of running into multi-tabling pros, and their efforts to promote soft games.
Bovada / Ignition / Bodog: I have grouped these sites together, as they share a network, pooling players together on a common back-end. This is regarded as the softest poker network for a number of reasons:
SportsBetting Poker / BetOnline: These sites are the main properties on the ‘Chico Poker Network’. This is available internationally, as well as to all 50 states. This is a smaller network, though is growing.
The main factor keeping the Chico poker network games soft is having a ton of sports betting traffic. There are incentives which appeal to recreational players including a bad-beat jackpot and high-hand bonus. Players can multi-table, though the incentives for doing this are not as big as on alternate US networks. On the negative side, pro tools can be used here.
Black Chip Poker / America’s Cardroom: These sites are part of the ‘Winning Poker Network’. This is a mid-sized network, which has expanded in the tournament area in recent years. They are the only US poker network to offer regular $1 million guaranteed events.
There are some concerns about the number of grinders at this network. Not only is rakeback available, there are incentives for high-volume players on top of that. These include progressive leader board contests (for both cash games and sit n goes), and other bonuses. You can still find soft games at these sites – though the number of pro grinders is noticeably higher than at other US networks.
While there are other US poker sites, these are extremely small in comparison to those mentioned above. They include the Horizon Poker Network (Intertops Poker) and the once large and now tiny Merge Network.
There is a lot more choice for international players. This includes some huge brand names, as well as lot of smaller networks.
PokerStars / Full Tilt Poker: These sites share a common player pool and are the biggest site worldwide by a large margin. While the big brand name attracts a lot of new players – there are some concerns when it comes to finding easy poker games.
The main problem is that the high volume of games attracts a lot of pro players. They can play 12+ tables at a time – which skews the ratio of pros to amateurs in favour of the grinders. Even the smallest stakes games have pros from lower GDP counties. On the plus side, the lower buy-in tournaments are very soft at PokerStars. HUDs are allowed here, though advice-engine software and table selection tools are restricted.
Party Poker: This was the original online poker brand, and still ranks highly in terms of traffic. Their big brand name is well-known among people who have never played poker – which ensures a steady flow of new players into the games. Tools are allowed here, and cashback promotions do incentivise higher volume of play. The ratio of fish to pros is better than at a lot of big sites.
888 Poker: This gambling giant has a lot of cross-over traffic from their casino brand. The games are softer than at many sites, thanks to promotions which encourage amateurs and discourage pros. You will need to be careful with table / game selection, though compared to other sites, there are plenty of fish in the games.
iPoker Network Sites: This network is made up of many sports betting brands, which share a common back end to allow their betting clients to try out poker. You’ll find brands like BetFair, Bet365 and William Hill share this network. While the cross-over traffic does keep new players coming to the games, the range of events and promos for amateurs has declined in the last couple of years.
There are many other networks to consider. MicroGaming provide a common back end for a lot of brands, though rakeback deals tend to make these games more pro-heavy. Unibet is another sports betting brand which has a poker room. This has unique software and some very soft games.
Some poker players specialise in a single game format – while others like to try all 3. When is comes to finding easy games, which format is the best?
As you gain experience playing online poker, you will find that table selection is a vital skill. Even the softest sites have their winning regulars. To make profit, you need to avoid situations where you are sitting down with too many of them.
Table selection starts with the list of games in the lobby of your poker site. You will see the average pot size, and the number of players seeing every flop. If both are on the big side, you might have found a wild game! Conversely, tables with only a couple of players seeing the flop and smaller average pot sizes can be those filled with regulars.
Before you jump into a seat, check the action for yourself. It could well be that just one super-loose fish is driving the action. If a seat is open to the immediate left of this player (so you act after them), this could be a big source of profit.
Table selection also applies to Sit N Goes. If you look at the lobby of a 1-table tournament and see 4 or 5 players you know to be multi-tabling regulars, then it might not be profitable to join. By waiting 15 minutes for those regs to get their games going, you might well find games where the ratio of amateurs is much better.
Remember that table selection is not ‘one and done’. You should reassess your games every 20 minutes or so, and make sure that there are no easier games to join instead. While this might not seem as interesting as the strategy side, it will make a big difference to your profits.
Once you have found a soft online poker site and mastered the basics of table selection, it is time to get tagging your opponents.
Many sites allow you to colour-code players. I recommend picking one colour for known regulars right away. This will allow you to spot them as soon as you look at a table. If there are several sitting down, you have an easy decision to move on.
You should also colour code the bad players. Taking notes on any exploitable tendencies will be a big help next time they are in your game. Try to be specific with comments, including how they bet in certain situations. While one-liners like ‘calling station’ have a little value, knowing the types of situation they call in will be worth even more.
Willingness to find the easiest poker sites – and the best tables on them – can easily be the difference between making or losing money.
Key to finding a soft site is to think about the ratio of pro-grinders to amateurs at the tables. Multi-tabling gives the grinders a big numerical advantage at many sites. You either need to see a source of new players (for example a sports betting brand) or restrictions on tools or the ability to multi-table.
Once you find a source of soft games, you can extend your advantage. Tagging regulars (and fish!), plus actively choosing the easiest games will make a huge difference to your bankroll in the long run.