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Table Selecting

Tabling selecting well can be a fantastic attribute to have and also can have a massive effect on your overall win rate. It’s not always an easy task to do however, so throughout this article we will be showing you how to go about it in a professional manner. The topics we will cover are; what to look for, spotting fish, starting tables, utilizing lobby stats and putting in the effort before going over some key points.

What to look for

We all want to be sat at that table where we are surrounded by fish and to not have to worry about a bunch of comprehensive regulars who are looking to pounce on our every mistake. However, as the games are more difficult today compared to 4 or 5 years ago in the poker ‘boom’, this task has become much more difficult.

When we first open up a table the first thing we need to look at are chip stacks. If a table (take 6 max for example) has 5 stacks already on the table all with 100 big blinds or more than its likely there are few fish going to be about. We obviously don’t know that for sure as they may have won a few pots, but it’s a likely statement.

If we open up a table and there are 4 or 5 stacks all with 40 big blinds or less then it’s likely that there will be some short stacking regulars here, of which we want to avoid as it decreases the amount we can win.

We should ideally be looking for a table where there are a couple of stacks around the 80 big blind mark. This will indicate that there are few regulars (because they would of bought in for the table maximum) and no short stackers (as they have too many chips at the table). This can only leave one type of player, fish.

Spotting Fish

Well it likely won’t take you long to spot a fish at the table. They will often sit down with a random amount (for example $82.21 at a 100nl table) due to the fact it’s likely their case money that they are playing with.

After just a few hands of observing a table it’s obvious that a fish will be involved in a lot of hands and playing what seems to be a less than profitable style. They will take funky lines such as min raising, limping, check calling and over betting/under betting the pot.

You can also use any Heads Up display that works alongside your tracking software to spot and highlight the fish for you. You don’t often see the same fish playing regularly as they will be losing money left, right and centre, but on the rare occasions you do they can be easily spotted.

Starting Tables

If there are no decent tables to immediately sit at the start of your session, or at least the tables that are available are not worth sitting at, then starting a table can be a good way to induce recreational players to sit down.

The fact these players can jump straight into the action become very appealing to someone looking to just quickly gamble their money up. If you sit down and be patient, it’s likely that whilst the table fills you will have at least one fish sat with you, which can be more than a lot of the tables that are already running.

It is advised that quite a few regulars do adopt the same strategy so be prepared to play a few heads up hands with these players as you await the arrival of your fish.

Utilizing Lobby Stats

Most poker rooms incorporate stats on their lobby display which give you an idea of several different stats including average VPIP, average PFR, hands per hour and other similar stats.

Whilst these stats aren’t always the most accurate, tables with high average VPIP’s should definitely be targeted even if they are already full. It’s worth sticking your name on the waiting list as a seat in this game could prove very profitable.

The average pot size can also be a good indication that a lot of action is taking place at a specific table. Again, in this scenario it’s often a fish that is the epicenter of this action as players feast off their terrible plays.

It’s important to understand that the stats in the lobby should be taken with a pinch of salt due to the fact that they are not always the most accurate, but can be used as a guide.

Investing time into table selecting

Whilst the temptation may be there to just fire up any old tables and get your session underway, spending a few minutes at the beginning of your session table selecting can really increase your overall win rate.

Some players have made good livings by perfecting the art of good, solid table selecting and sifting through the regulars and going straight for the fish.

You can often get a feel for a table after just a few hands so take this time to observe your opponents by using the criteria already mentioned in this article and table select away.

Key Points

  • Look for any obscure amounts players are sat with at a table.
  • Use lobby stats to find juicy tables.
  • Invest time into perfecting the art of table selecting.
  • If no decent tables are available then start your own.