No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em Table Selection Tips
Online Poker can be profitable, but be sure to choose the right table!
This article is primarily for lower stakes online poker, but the advice can be used in your live game too. It is based on my online poker playing experiences and the studying of the game I’ve done over the past two years.
Choosing the right table is one of the most important factors to being a winning poker player.
One of the biggest leaks in most no limit holdem players games is their lack of game selection. Take a minute and make No Limit Holdem Table Selection a priority in your game and you will see positive results in the bankroll.
Do not just sit down and start playing poker in the first seat you see open, or even worse getting on the waiting list for the first available table. Even worse – if you do not leave a bad table once you know it is bad! Get up, there are plenty more. Don’t be an ego player – go find a more profitable spot. Don’t sit there and play at a bad table!
There is absolutely no need for this, especially if you are playing online poker. Yes, if you are playing live sometimes you don’t have the choice of tables, but online poker is different. Most online poker rooms offer numerous tables at the stakes you’re looking for.
Online poker rooms love the ‘1st available seat’ option they offer. It gets you playing quicker and contributing to the rake quicker. Most sites even have an automatic seat finding button you can push. When you log into Bodog Poker, for example, you can enter a quickseat mode where it puts you in an available seat with out ever taking you to the lobby. This is a Huge Mistake!
Take a few minutes and do some table selection. Always at check the lobby and do a quick look over the available tables. On Poker Stars, you can view the average pot size, and the % of players seeing the flop. This gives you a good base to pick out a juicy table or two.
With so many different tables to choose from online you should always search out a good table and second LEAVE a bad table as soon as you realize it is bad.
Here are some of the things that I look for when selecting a NL table. I’ll normally play in the smaller stakes, the $50 buy-in and sometimes if I’ve been running good the $100 buy-ins.
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1. PLAYERS & POT SIZES…
As a general rule, 6-8 players with a fairly large average pot size.
With most online poker sites you can see the average pot size and how many players are seeing the flop. Large pots are better as this generally means more loose players, playing no limit I’m looking to win big hands when I’ve got the nuts, not to grind down opponents by blind stealing and small pot stealing. I avoid most really tight games, rocks are boring and unprofitable typically. No limit is about getting paid off when you hit your monster, not stealing blinds all day.
A good table for me is one that is loose, but that is also not overly aggressive. I’m looking for a lot of players limping or calling small raises pre-flop. This is very common at Full Tilt Poker. Tips for playing there can be found in the link including what kind of games to look for.
2. The average number of players seeing the flop…
If you can see the average # of players seeing the flop, this is a hugely vital stat to use. Lower limits you can easily find something around 35-40%, which is pretty darn loose. Find this stat and then get one with a higher than average pot.
Sites like Bodog and Sportsbook.com will show you how many players are seeing the flop on average. I look for games with high averages seeing the flop, anything over 40% is usually good and very easy to find online.
The majority of times this makes for a good table as a tight aggressive player will play between 20% and 35% of any given hands on average, and in my opinion 35% is loooooose.
3. Watch the Button go around the table at least once – and pay attention!
Now that you’ve found a table with numbers that look pretty good its time to actually take a quick overhead view of the table and see what happens. Open up the table but do not sit down, or if you want you can sit down but not take your cards yet. If you are playing at Poker Stars, here is a screen shot of the table.
Take an open seat and pay attention! Watch the button go all the way around the table and take an initial assement of the table. Here are the things to look for:
A. Players limping and then calling a late position raise with weak holdings (hands like KQo, KJo, KTo, and other dominated hands like QJ (this is a good sign)
B. Look around the table at the current stack sizes – normally avoid tables where more than 3 players have 3 to 4 times the maximum buy in amount. These players can easily push me out of pots or have me committed early. They also might be solid players. (bad sign)
C. Take notice of the cards people are showing down. Look for weak holdings outside of the blinds offsuit small one gappers, Ace rag unsuited, and the plethora of other bad cards people play with. (more junk the better)
D. Take notice of who raises and who calls raises – are premium hands raised huge or limped with and are other players calling raises with weak holdings (good)
E. Any Maniacs at the table? – is there a crazy bettor or people who seem to be out to hit miracle cards by calling big bets? (good depending on seat) If you can get position on them (acting afterwards) you can get paid off when you hit a monster against them. The only problem is that you almost have to hit your hand to beat this player so you need to also feel confident that they will also pay you off when you do.
F. Who are the two worst players at the table? (can’t tell? BAD) Pick out two players that are playing weak and have made mistakes. See who is playing really loose, who is playing really tight.
G. Look for players making small raises (1-2x the BB) with premium hands or even slow playing. (good, probably inexperienced players)
4. YOU MUST HAVE A GOOD SEAT RELATIVE TO THE REST OF THE TABLE…
A. This means sitting directly to the left of the Maniacs and the other Big Stacks so you always act after them. If you have a big hand you have the option to disguise it by letting them bet it for you. If you have a weak hand you can let it go fairly easily.
B. Give up position to short stacks/tight players – no problem letting the act after you if they are only going to play strong hands or not get involved often.
If you find the right combination of table factors and good relative seat then snag it! Since you’ve been watching the action already you can post as soon as you sit down if you want. This helps portray a loose image. If the big blind is 4 seats or less away from me I’ll wait and post as soon as I sit down, although I sometimes post right away to make people think I’m loose.
5. IF THE TABLE TURNS COLD, GET UP AND MOVE…
Nothing is worse than staying at a bad table. Many times you’ll find yourself sitting at a table with a bunch of tight and aggressive players. Unless you are wanting to work on your game, get up and move and go make money. Don’t think that you’ve got something to prove.
6. TAKE NOTES…
I logged on to Party Poker yesterday to play a tourney with some friends and there were over 70,000 players playing right then. You’ll probably never see a player again but if you find anyone who is horrible, take a note and especially when you find the good players, make a note. It could save you your stack later.
I recommend reading through Full Tilt Poker Download Guide for a step by step tutorial on setting a your online poker account. This is a great resource for new players.
Thanks and we’ll see you at the tables!
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