Choosing Tables That Fit Your Style

Daniel Negreanu

Arguably, for a beginner the most suitable table is a loose passive one.

This means many players are seeing the flop and there is no aggressive betting (few raises or re-raises). In those games opponents are playing starting hands with negative expected value and they are not protecting strong holdings throughout the pot, thereby missing out on expected value.

However, some advanced players prefer the games to be loose and wild/aggressive (along the line of the drunken macho home game) where a lot of money goes into the pot throughout the hand on all streets.

To make this even more complicated, there are certain types of higher-stakes players who prefer to play in very tight and passive games. They will start out robbing the blinds and use their aggressive (and hopefully unpredictable) table image to dominate and terrorize the game.

A lot of times it only takes one of these "hurricane" players to set an entire table on tilt and change the style of game played. This phenomenon can be quite interesting to be part of.

To make things simple for the beginner, we recommend that you look for the loosest games possible where you can play a straightforward, moderately tight and aggressive game with good results. Of course, you will see a slightly higher volatility (ups and downs) in the loosest games as there will be lots of drawing hands beating you on the last round. But that is poker!

Below are two tables with approximate view flop percentages (average number of players seeing the flop) and pot sizes you can expect to see at full ring games in fixed-limit Texas Hold'em. They show various limits, as well as what percentage can be considered tight/loose per limit:

Game Limit Typical flop % Typical pot size
Limit Texas Hold'em $0.5-$1 45% $8
  $1-$2 40% $16
Full 10-player game $3-$6 35% $42
  $5-$10 30% $65
  $15-$30 25% $180
  $30-$60 23% $330
Game Limit Tight Loose Very loose
Limit Texas Hold'em $0.5-$1 32% 60% 75%
  $1-$2 30% 55% 70%
Full 10-player game $3-$6 28% 50% 60%
  $5-$10 26% 45% 50%
  $15-$30 24% 40% 45%
  $30-$60 22% 35% 40%

For more on table selection read the strategy article "The Lobby and Table Selection."

We also recommend you to download the tool Poker Usher that will help you find the weakest tables available at your poker client. Let Poker Usher choose the weakest poker table for you.

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