The Art of Table Selection

Table selection is one of the most underrated aspects of poker. One would think that selecting the proper table for success is easy, but there are a few things you must know to become skilled at selecting tables that yield the most profit.

To become a great poker player you must utilize every edge you are given. The professionals know that poker is all about finding an edge in a game and exploiting it to maximize their long-term profit. Selecting the proper table can make the difference between being a winning player and a losing player.

We will divide table selection into the following sections:

  1. Finding the Table: Average pot size and the view flop percentages constitute valuable information.
  2. Knowing the Players: "Spying" on players for maximum profit.
  3. Time of Play: Playing at the right time of day to yield even more profit.

Finding the Table

Before you even join a table you should first look at its status, which is usually located next to the table name in the lobby. If you are in a casino you will not have this option. Online poker rooms will show you two very important factors that will help you in determining which table to play on.

The first piece of information we want to look at is the average pot size. This will tell us how much money each pot is played for on average. Compare each table and pick a table with a higher average pot size to yield more profit.

The second piece of information we want to look at is the view flop percentage. Usually tables with a higher view flop percentage host more people playing mediocre hands. Always pick a table with a high view flop percentage as compared to the other available tables.

Knowing the Players

This is my favorite part of online poker. This tip will give you a huge edge whether you are playing live or online. If I had to guess, I would say around two-thirds of the players online never even analyze their table. Most people online are either playing their cards, or are oblivious to this huge secret. If I had to tell you one difference between a professional poker player and an amateur, I would tell you that professional players develop awesome reads on their opponents.

Am I telling you that every time a player eats an Oreo she has pocket aces? Not exactly. I am not necessarily talking about physical tells here, but just an overall assessment of the style of each player.

Right when you join a table you should be on the lookout for maniacs. You should also be on the lookout for tight players. Watch every showdown. How are they betting? Is everyone calling this woman's pre-flop raise? If so, she is probably a maniac. Is everyone folding to this guy's pre-flop raise? If so, he is probably tight.

Once you figure out how each player is playing, adapt your play to that player when you are in a pot with him or her. Here are a few quick rules to go by:

  1. Tight players: When you are in a pot with a tight player you may think about bluffing him. He will most likely fold to your bluff unless he has the nuts. This is the type of player who you always want to lean on in the blinds until he takes a stand. Surprisingly, this is the easiest type of players to play against because he is so predictable.
  2. Maniacs: These players really do all of the work for you. A big mistake new players make is trying to bluff a maniac. Do not bluff her under any circumstance. Always wait and trap her with a good hand.
  3. Tight-aggressive players: These are the hardest players to play against. I advise you to steer clear of them altogether unless you have a good hand. This type of player has developed the style that most winning players use.

Time of Play

This is a little tip that I have found useful through a ton of experience at online play. Although you don't always have to play at these times, it will help you net more profit.

Most of the juicy games you will see are either on weekends or later on at night. Most players have day jobs and are at work from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., give or take. After work they will log on and play for fun, which is the best time to get hold of these fish. Mostly, they treat poker as a hobby and will be loose callers, both pre-flop and post-flop. Also, many drunk players will play late at night.

If you have the time, play later at night or on the weekends more often. You can still play during the day on weekdays, of course; just try to exploit every possible edge. This tip has allowed me to find better games throughout the week.

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