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Selecting the Right Table

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 battlegrounds 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.  As long as you can recognize weak play, you can continue to take advantage of it

 

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.  If you document your play you will usually find that this is a situation where you will lose more money than normal.

 

So get out and 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.  Watch until you see a weak player and then sit down.  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 after they act.  This isn’t always possible but it doesn’t hurt to have this in mind if the opportunity is available. 

 

Sometimes you may not watch the table long enough and the information you thought you had turns out to be incorrect.  Some tables will play a certain way until a new player sits down.  Realize that you could be wrong in some of your assumptions if things are going poorly early on.  The best table-selection practice is to leave one that you’re losing at.  This will be rare but it’s important to stop the bleeding early at a new table.  If the cards don’t turn around after you lose 25% of your buy-in you should get out of there before you end up dumping all your chips in a poor poker situation.

 

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.

 

 

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