Almost as important as selecting the most suitable online poker room, is the selection of the best poker table to play at. Once again the profitability of each table can vary massively, so is it just luck whether or not you pick the most profitable?
Poker table selection software typically scans every table at a user selected limit and game type to get a list of tables and players. It then uses a local database of player statistics (such as one from Poker Tracker 3) to calculate how 'fishy' the table is. Poker Table Selection: How To Choose the Most Profitable Table When You Join An Online Table Look For These Clues: by Card Player News Team Published: Jul 17, 2020.
Well no, there is a logic behind it and in this lesson we are going to look at how to select the most profitable cash game table from the lobby.
What are we Looking for?
We’re looking for the fish, plain and simple. We’re looking for any signs of bad players who play too many hands against the odds and chase, hoping to hit cards on the flop, turn or river to make their hand irrespective of how unlikely it is to happen.
- Importance of Proper Table Selection Most online rooms allow players to use an alias while competing, making it difficult to figure out whether a certain table is made up of weak players or highly-experienced pros. Proper table selection is crucial if you want to be successful in poker, especially if you’re still a beginner.
- In casinos you have a limited choice of tables to sit at, so table selection is a little trickier when playing live poker. However, with online poker you have the opportunity to choose from a long list of tables. You should take advantage of this freedom of choice.
- If you are new to online poker and then you will need top notch online poker strategy. These generally include game selection and online poker table selection. Most of the websites share information about the tables like when and how many players go flop etc. Tables with the largest flop percent are the best for a game in case of tight players.
Now in a live casino the only way to do this would be to stand and observe the tables and spot the one with the players who are chasing.
Luckily with online poker this guesswork and time consuming observation is taken away from us, as we are given table statistics in the lobby for each and every table, which is extremely helpful seeing as there can be hundreds of tables to choose from.
So How do we Choose the Most Profitable Table?
The first step is to ensure that you are looking at the right tables. In the first stage of this course and the Poker Bankroll Challenge you will be playing at the 5cent / 10cent stake level and throughout this course you will be focused on the No Limit Texas Holdem ring (cash) game tables.
So, from the lobby, make sure you are looking at the ring game tables, and click on the Holdem tab and select the No Limit button just underneath. The tables we are looking for are the 5c/10c tables with 9 players on a table. Throughout this course we will be playing on full tables of 9 or 10 player tables so you can ignore the short-handed (6 player) tables for now.
As you look at the tables available you will see a number of statistics here, lets have a quick look at what they mean:
- Players – The number of players sat at the table and the maximum players, eg: “7/9” = 7 players sat down with 2 spare seats.
- Stakes – The size of the small blind and big blind and subsequent bets, eg: “5c/10c” = small blind is 5 cents ($0.05) and the big blind is 10 cents ($0.10).
- Limit – The type of Poker Betting Limit of the game being played, either No Limit, Pot Limit or Limit (Fixed) – eg: “NL” = No Limit
- Type – Poker room specific which will show icons for the type of game it is, for example there might be an icon for webcam poker tables, usually there is a legend explaining the icons at the bottom of the lobby.
- Average Pot – Self explanatory, keeps track of all the winning pot values and provides an average pot size as a statistic for the table.
- Players / Flop – The average number of players who see the flop, ie: the players that are not folding before the flop and at least call the pre flop bet and see the cards on the flop, eg: “45%” = at a full 9 man table this would indicate that on average 4 players (9 x 45%) see each flop, meaning there is at least 4 big blinds in most pots.
- Hands / Hour – This is an indication of the speed of the table and displays the average number of hands that are dealt in each hour, the higher the number the faster the table is acting and getting through more hands per hour.
- Wait – If a table is full then you can sign up for the waiting list for that table, as a player leaves, that seat is offered to the next person on the waiting list. This statistic shows you how many people are currently on the Waiting List.
Players per Flop: The Fish-o-meter
The statistic we are interested in to start with is the % of players seeing the Flop, or the Players per Flop column. What this number is telling us is the average % of the players at the table who see each flop. This is our Fish-o-meter as the basic rule of thumb here is that the higher this number is, then the more fish (bad players) the table contains.
Why? Because as you have already learnt, fish chase bad cards, they play hands that they should just fold, and hence you get more players trying to play each flop without any kind of proper hand selection.
Online Poker Table Selection Games
A table with a lower percentage would indicate better players, so if you saw a table with 5% then this table has a lot of better players, who play hands selectively before the flop and don’t play with hands they shouldn’t.
As you can see from the screenshot above, there is one table that stands out above the others in the list with a 45% players/flop statistic – this is a really really good table to sit down at, and I would be getting my name on that table’s waiting list as soon as possible.
What we are looking for is tables with a Plrs/Flop % higher than 20%. If you can get greater than 30% then that is even better. The higher the better and the more fishy table.
The screenshot above was taken at 888 Poker and as you can see there are lots of tables above 20% and some over 30%, culminating with that fish stinking 45% table. It’s a similar case at Bovada, and just goes to backup the results of our tests that there are lots of inexperienced players at these two sites where we can make profit.
Game selection is one of the easiest ways to increase your
overall win rate in online poker. Even though players will work
tirelessly towards improving their skill sets in order to make a
few more dollars per hour, there are many who don’t even give a
thought to the potential found in proper game selection. If you
are totally unfamiliar with the term, game selection is the
process of shopping around for the best games possible.
When you are seated at a table and see that a handful of others are
running, you should always be scouting the lineups in each game
to see if there’s more potential easy money available than what
you are currently working with. This is game selection in a
nutshell, and the following sections outline tips and tricks
that will go a long way towards your success in finding the best
games running at any given time.
How to Spot Good Games
Online Poker Table Selection Chart
The first thing that you’ll need to learn how to do in
order to most effectively game select is to figure out which
players are good, which are average, and which are bad. Needless
to say, you should be looking for those tables with the highest
density of bad and average players and the fewest winning
players. If you are new to online poker, or even if you’re
experienced and don’t use any type of poker tracking software,
this can be a challenge.
The easiest way to get familiar with players and their
strengths and weaknesses is to have a
HUD (heads up display) running at all times when you are
playing. A HUD will give you a quick snapshot of a player’s
tendencies over the sample size for which you have played with
them. If you haven’t been involved in many hands with any
particular player, the best thing that you can do is to assign
them with an average skill level at best. More likely than not,
you have already sat with the stronger players on your poker
site of choice at one point or another, provided of course that
you are a regular and put in a significant number of hands.
Online Poker Table Selection Rules
If you don’t use a HUD and/or do not want to use any type of
software, there’s still another easy way of remembering which
players fit into which skill level demographic. Virtually every
online poker site allows players to take notes on their
opponents. Because of this, you’ll be able to jot down
everything you pick up on a player as time goes by. The only
negative aspect of using this approach to tracking players is
that it will take a lot more time, effort, and persistence. If
you only take notes on rare occasions, you won’t have nearly
as much information as you should.
Along these same lines, you’ll also need to make sure that your notes are as precise and
useful as they can possibly be. One of the bad habits of online
poker players is taking short and/or out of context notes.
Writing down one hand history in a player’s notes isn’t going
to be very beneficial somewhere down the line. At the very
least, include the general skill level of a player in their
notes. If nothing else, notes will tell you whether or not you
want a particular player at your table.
When to Change Games
There’s always a chance to find a better game. Even if you
are sitting at a table full of the worst players you have ever
seen, it’s always possible that another game will start that’s
occupied by even worse players. This is the beauty in
online poker. There’s always a game breaking, a game
starting, and a game changing. If you play a lot of hands, you’ll start to notice that the stronger players hop around very
frequently. Anyone who takes online poker seriously will be
looking for ways to exploit their opponents whenever possible,
and game selection is one of the easiest ways to do this. In the
end, there’s never a bad time to change games. Don’t get
comfortable with where you are at, be vigilant, and always keep
an eye out for the easy money.
Sometimes you won’t notice a new table that would be
profitable, but instead will find a better seat within the table
that you are already playing at. Seat hopping is the act of
simply changing places in the same game, and it can really make
your life a whole lot easier. The main goal of seat hopping is
to get position on certain players.
For example, if there’s an
exceptionally strong opponent in your game, it would make a lot
of sense to switch to an empty seat on that player’s left should
you be presented with the opportunity. Likewise, having position
on a very weak player can also make it easier to play in pots
both pre and post-flop. There is a small segment of players who
will get upset when they notice someone constantly changing
seats, but rest assured knowing that there’s nothing wrong with
improving your position at any table, no matter how much someone
might harass you.
Bum hunting is the negative connotation attached to game
selection in heads up matches. A bum hunter is a player who is
said to play against weak opponents and weak opponents only. On
one hand, it’s only logical to play only opponents that you are
better than, but on the other hand you’ll be admitting that
you aren’t a very strong player. Bum hunting isn’t so much a
matter of profit as it is a matter of reputation. For most
players, it won’t matter whether you adhere to this
online poker strategy or not, and it’s even advisable.
Online Poker Table Selection List
The only players who are given a hard time for bum hunting
are high stakes players. They will create a bad reputation among
their peers and will be prone to jeers from railbirds. Unless
you are playing in nosebleed games, however, bum hunting is just
another way to increase your bottom line without any
Online Poker Table Selection Rules
Game and table selection is also very important when playing
in a live casino. If you play live poker, we suggest giving our
live poker game selection article a read. It may help you
increase your winnings next time you’re in a casino.