Table selection has been a pre-session routine of mine for quite a while now. Once I realized that the situation I put myself in was more important than how my game stacked up against other skilled players I immediately began to win at a better rate.
Before then I would sit at any table and adjust my game to the table. By doing this I was creating a learning curve for myself. It would cost me bets to gain the information I required about my opponents. It forced me to play tight early until I learned what player types I was up against. Once I started to watch a table for a couple of rounds before I sat down I found that I no longer lost those early info bets anymore. For that reason alone it will always be an area of consideration before I sit down.
“The Art of War” teaches that careful ground selection is imperative in battle. This relates to poker in the form of your opponents. Favourable battle grounds in poker are games with weak players in them. Even if there are other skilled players at the table, the presence of the fish will make it a profitable setting. The more fish, the more profit.
One common mistake new players make is to sit down at the table with the biggest pot averages. Most online casinos provide this information about each table. Tables with the bigger pots are loose, and multiple players are staying in the hands until the showdown. This is a good table if you happen to have a great run of cards, but it’s not profitable when multiple opponents are seeing the river. As pot average numbers decrease your chances for bluffing increase. You want to be at a table where most of the players can be forced out of the hand early, thus increasing your chances of winning the hand at showdown.
Once you get the feel of the table you have to continue these observations as you play. You may have sat down at a tight passive table but in the last ten minutes three players have changed. There’s a good chance the new players have completely different playing styles. You must incorporate these new styles into the big picture of the constantly-evolving table.
This initial table selection is important, but there’s one thing about a good poker game. The better it is, the shorter it lasts. That makes sense, the faster the weak players lose their money, the faster they run out of money. Take this mindset a step further and recognize when the fish are gone and look for a new game. To remain with other skilled players is only advantageous to the house. Money will shift back and fourth between players with nobody really getting ahead, meanwhile the house rake continues to bleed everyone’s bankroll.
So go searching for greener pastures. Online poker allows you to watch with no one aware you are even there. Don’t be in a hurry to sit down and get started. Calculate your player types and wait for a good seat. You preferably want to sit to the right of tight players so you can force them out of pots, and to the left of loose players so you can take advantage of their aggression.
Proper table selection means you sit in the weeds and scope out the land for limp, slow prey. I’m talking about grinding here. It’s not about who’s the best, it’s about taking steps to find the best situation possible to make money. The time you spend looking for a good game is not playing time lost, it’s playing time well spent. Good luck.