Poker Table Selection
Good poker table selection is important if you want to maximize your profits from each poker session you play. It should be obvious that if you want to make money from your poker, you should play against opponents that are not as good as yourself.
So if the players at table A are more experienced than the players on table B, a wise poker player would choose table B every time.
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In B&M casinos you would usually have very little or no choice about which table you sit at, so table selection is a little trickier when playing live poker. However, when playing online you have the opportunity to choose from a long list of tables. You should use this freedom of choice to your advantage.
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Table selection lobby figures.
Due to the outburst in popularity in online poker over recent years, there has been little shortage of tables for you to choose from online. So how can you determine which tables may be more profitable than others?
Firstly, most poker rooms online will give you figures in the lobby based on how the table is playing. The figures that we should be most interested in are the average pot sizes and average number of players per flop.
Average pot size.
The average pot size figure should give us an indication of how much action the players at the table are giving. The higher this figure is, the greater the amount of money we can expect to win when we make a good hand. Therefore as a wise poker player, we should look for these tables with high average pot size figures.
Average number of players per flop.
The average number of players per flop figure tells us how loose the players at the table are playing. If this figure is high, then we can assume that the players have low starting hand requirements and are probable poor poker players. On the other hand if the figure is low, we can assume that the players are tight, and will only see flops with a good starting hand.
A high average number of players per flop figure indicates that the players at the table have poor starting hand requirements.
The average number of players per flop figure should influence our table selection depending on our own style of play. If you are a tight player it may be more beneficial for you to choose the tables with a higher number of players per flop and pick up the occasional big pots, whereas if you are a loose player you may find it beneficial to play at the tables with low numbers of players per flop to pick up many of the small uncontested pots.
Be sure to take into account the number of players at each table in relation to the number of players per flop, as the shorthanded tables will have a lower number of players per flop than the full tables.
Table selection example.
As you can see on the diagram, the table with the highest average pot is Cassiopea, and the table with the highest number of players per flop is Athor IV.
However, the best table to sit at out of the two would be Cassiopea, because Athor IV has a low average pot size despite having the higher number of players per flop.
Time of play and table selection.
A second factor that can influence the profitability of the tables is the time at which you are play poker. Many online players will play poker for the entertainment factor, and will not be playing solely for the money. This means that if we time our play in conjunction with the time the casual players participate, then we can avoid more of the sharks and sit down with the fish.
The average working timetable for a person that plays online poker is likely to be 9AM to 5PM on weekdays. Therefore if we want to maximize our chances of playing with these recreational players then we should sit down at the tables after 6PM on weekdays, and at any time during the weekends. In addition people will often play poker after having a drink, which will alter their play for the worse. The time at which the drunk poker players are likely to be sitting down at the tables is during the evenings.
If you play more poker in the evenings, there is a higher chance of running in to a few "worse for wear" players (drunk ones).
Obviously these theories best apply to the countries with the highest volume of internet players, so if you live in the UK you may want to play poker during the times that correlate with the times mentioned above for the USA.
Many poker rooms offer you the ability to search for specific players. These means that you should use this feature to your advantage and take a note of every bad player you come across, and search for him or her before you sit down at the tables. This way you can guarantee yourself to be playing against at least one bad player, instead of taking a chance on a table of unknowns.
Table selection evaluation.
TIp: Check out my list of the softest online poker sites for a table of rankings of poker rooms based on the volume of bad players.
Many players will not actively choose the tables that may give them the greatest opportunities to make the most money out of their poker sessions.
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If you are going to sit down at a poker table for a decent period of time with your money, it is in your best interest to sit down at the tables that will give you the greatest return on your investment in the long run. The advice given above on good table selection is simple to employ, so it is worth spending a minute or two looking for a good table, especially if you intend to sit at the one table for a long period of time.
However, if the table has changed significantly due to original players leaving and new players arriving, it may be a good idea to leave the table if you feel it is no longer profitable. There are literally thousands of other tables out there, and you are under no obligation to stay if the particular table no longer suits your style of play.
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