Table Selection

Daniel Negreanu
Will you maintain your edge if you belly up against Kid Poker?

It is extremely important that every player be aware of table selection. The concept of table selection can be explained quite simply: choosing games where you have an edge.

You could be the 10th-best player in the world but, if you only play with the top nine players, you will not maintain your edge. Likewise, you could be one of the worst players in the world but, if you play with those even less skilled than you, you can expect to win.

What to Look For

A good player looks for loose games with weak players in them.

There are certain criteria to consider when deciding which table to play. These include:

  1. The percentage of players who see the flop (in Hold'em and Omaha) or players who see the fourth card (in Seven-Card Stud).
  2. The average size of the pot.
  3. Acknowledged weak players in the game.

If you play online, these criteria are easy to find; they are usually shown in the lobby next to the relevant game.

The strongest indicator of a good game in Limit poker is the percentage of players who see the flop. If this percentage is high, it's a loose game. In a live game you must simply study the game and decide whether you want to play or move to a different table.

In terms of Limit Hold'em, you should search out games that have at least 35% of the players seeing the flop (the higher the percentage, the better). The average pot size should be at least 12 times the amount of the small blind.

If you are know there are a couple of weak players at a table, try to get a seat to their left so you have better position on them. In No-Limit games, the average pot size is a strong indicator of a good game.

You want to seek out No-Limit games with plenty of weak participating players since you may have a chance of winning their entire stack in one hand.

Continual Evaluation

Due to the fact that players move around and the pace of the game changes, you constantly have to evaluate whether the game is still good.

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If you play online, check the criteria above and pay attention to the game. If the table has been bad for a while, change tables even if you are winning at that particular time.

In a live poker room, you can walk around and check the action at other tables and ask the floor manager for a table change.

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