Planet Mark's Blog. Thoughts, News And Strategy For Poker Tournaments Of All Size

10 Ways to Spot Brand New Online Poker Players

These days, tools including HUDs and player database services will quickly highlight the fish at your table. For those of us who do not use those tools, there are still some easy ways to spot players who are brand new to the game. You might as well take your share of their bankrolls by isolating them and outplaying them post-flop. If you do not do it, then someone more ruthless will be happy to step right in.

Note that alone, each of these does not necessarily indicate a new player. Spot 2 or 3 together, and you almost certainly have a fish. Then again, there is always room for some innovative shark to adjust their play to mimic this…

10 Easy Ways to Spot Brand New Poker Players

#1 – Typing ‘zzzzzzzzzzzz’ into the chat box

This is very common in play money games, which are much slower (as well as being loose-passive hell). Sure, a player who is continually slow will end up getting complaints from regulars eventually. If someone is quick to ‘zzzzz’ there is a decent chance that this is their first real-money experience and they have not yet figured the different etiquette.

#2 – Timing down with monsters

Many players hesitate a little before raising with the nuts. What they generally do not do is the whole ‘hollywood’ routine of letting their time-bank kick in before ‘reluctantly’ making that smallish check-raise. While this is player dependent, regulars quickly learn not to stick out from the crowd by doing something different with certain strengths of hand. New players are terrified of not getting paid, and will often slowplay sets etc to the river, then suddenly realize they got no money in the pot and overbet.

#3 – 1-Tabling

Playing a single table of anything gets dull very fast, if you use your site’s search and find a 1-tabler, then the chances are that they are new.

#4 – Open Limping

Not many experienced players do this, at least not frequently. See someone limp from later position a couple of times and you can be pretty sure they are new to the game. Even better is someone who limps with big hands (aces and kings only in many cases). The best thing about this is that you’ll know that when they raise, you can remove AA and KK from their range.

#5 – Throwing Eggs / Smileys / Avatar Expressions

This one is site dependent. On 888 you can throw eggs / tomatoes and so on at people, its stupid, really really stupid. Of course, no player who takes the game seriously is going to do that… unless they are trying to trick you into thinking that they are new… The animations on Carbon Poker, and to a lesser extent, changing your avatar’s expression on Full Tilt are also new-player indicators.

#6 – Odd Bet Sizes

Someone raising 5x every hand will not last long (especially if they combine this with limping monsters). Overbetting, underbetting and generally making bets which would not make any sense for either good hands or bluffs is the mark of a new player.

#7 – One of Each Game

Another one you can uncover with the use of ‘find this player’, if you find someone playing a tournament, a cash game and trying out an PLO8 freeroll at the same time… well, you can be pretty certain that they are not experienced grinders.

#8 – Overly Chatty Players

Not sure about you, I am fast to hit the ‘mute’ when someone starts getting too chatty. Nothing more face-palm inducing that one fish giving another strategy lessons in a low level game. There is a definite inverse correlation between chattiness and ability… which also applies to over-use of ‘NH’. .

#9 – Donking

This is betting into the pre-flop raiser, the worst kind is the min-donk bet. I have lost count of the number of pots I have won by raising these bets. Sure, some people now use them to induce a raise, though you can usually spot these types quickly. Min-donking behavior gets unlearned fast, and is a big new-player tell.

#10 – OMG / JokerStars etc

Shock at routine 80/20’s or even 70/30’s going the way of the underdog soon gets old. New players routinely say ‘OMG’ in the chatbox, or find agreement with other players that their poker site is indeed rigged… after all, they are great players, and if it was not for their constant bad luck, they’d be the next Durrrr by now, right…. Right??!

My tip for the site with the most players which fit into this category? Its closer than it was, and iPoker are still pretty damn fishy, for my money 888 Poker has become even softer... they attract a lot of first timers via their $88 no-deposit bonus (comes in $8 increments) and generally feel much more recreational than the other sites. Check them out for yourself over at

GL at the tables, Mark

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