Poker Table Selection

written by: John

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Although many of us play poker simply because we enjoy the game, the challenge of making hard decisions and playing against skillful opponents, many of us also play poker to grind out a living. And when trying to grind out an income the last thing you want is 'difficulties' or 'challenges' since these factors hinder your ability to grind out an income and grind it out quickly.

So what many players have been doing is actually scout out and select the tables they wish to play on instead of just sitting down randomly. By looking at some of the following factors that we have listed below, these players are doing everything they can outside of playing poker to ensure that they are making their money in the easiest way possible.

How to Pick Tables in Poker

Spot the Regulars

It will be impossible to avoid well-known players all the time, but to make money you are going to have more of an edge avoiding the grinders and playing against the players that you know play poorly.

To keep track of the players, some online sites will have a buddy-list. Use this list and mark each player accordingly such as 'sharks' for regular grinders and 'donkeys' or 'fish' for regular players that you want to play against that are easy money.

If a buddy-list isn't available, keep your own excel sheet or word document and mark each player accordingly.

Short Stacks

It's a good practice to try to avoid tables where there are more than two or three short stacks present.

There are a few reasons behind this. One, if quite a few players are short stacked at the table and you happen to hit a monster hand, you are going to lose a lot of value on that hand since no one will have big enough stacks for you to extract from.

Also, a lot of short stack strategy is based on pushing with a wide range of hands. This makes playing more difficult as more of your decisions will be pre-flop calling all-ins instead of being able to play post flop.

Players to the Flop %

Most online sites have several statistics next to their tables. One of these statistics is the 'number of players to the flop' percentage which tells you on average how many players put money in the pot to see the flop.

This is good to know because if the number is real low, say, 20% or less, than you know that the table is extremely tight which will mean there is less action, thus less money to be made. Ideally, you will want to look for a number around 25 to 30%.

Hands per Hour

Another stat that is shown next to each table online is the amount of hands played per hour. It would only make sense that the more hands a player plays, the more potential money that can be won. So, when looking for a table, be sure to find a table that is playing many hands per hour. Each table will vary, but it's common to play 100+ per hour so look for something in that neighborhood.

Having said that, be sure to keep in mind that if the pot size is low or the percentage of players to the flop is low, the high hands per hour number can be high due to a tight table that is folding a lot pre-flop. Be sure to watch the table for a few minutes to be sure.  

It should be noted that the 'hands per hour' and the 'players to the flop' percentages could be inflated if the table happens to be short handed or if it happened to just fill up.

Average Pot Size

The 'average pot size' is another stat to consider when choosing a table. If you are looking through the list of tables and notice that one table has an average of $5 per hand and another has $10 average per hand, then it would be safe to assume that there is more action and more money to be won at the table that is averaging $10 per hand.

Waiting Lists

Generally, if there is a waiting list, it is because the table is a good money making table due to lots of loose action or well-known fish currently playing.

Poker Table Selection

It should be important to keep in mind that these are just guidelines and are by no means a guarantee to finding a soft table. It is possible to find tables that have inflated numbers for various reasons or to find maybe good numbers in one area but not so great in another. Instead of choosing a table solely on one stat alone, try to find a table that has decent averages all across such as 25 to 35% players to the flop, 75 hands per hour or so and 15 to 25 times the big blind for an average pot size.

A great thing about table selection is that you can check out tables before you sit down to ensure you are sitting down to a table that has potential to make money as well as scope out the players and their tendencies. If it seems like the action is dead or maybe you are out of position against a strong opponent, simply get up and leave. Do not waste money at a table that you cannot make money from.

In short, players should do everything they can to maximize their profits when playing poker regardless of whether it is by learning new strategies, studying their game or by selecting the right table.