Table Selection Is More Important Than You Think

What factors do you consider when it comes to table selection?

Being able to choose your table is one of the advantages cash game players have over tournament players. MTT grinders sit where they’re told, cash games players can perform table selection before starting their session.

Table selection is vitally important if you want to be a successful cash game player. It is the number one source of your long-tern poker profits. Luck plays a major role in your short term success, but we have no control over luck. Your skill level is an obvious factor, but relying on your skills only partly works long-term.

The majority of your profit comes from being better skilled than your opponents, which is where table selection comes in. There’s no point being the sixth-best poker player on the planet if you continually play against the top five players, as the saying goes. You will lose money in this situation, even if you are highly skilled.

It is ideal to be seated with opponents you have an edge over. Tournament players are at the mercy of the seat draw. Cash game players are not. They get to choose their table and have the ability to switch seats and tables whenever they wish. Most don’t, however, but they should.

Table Selection In The Live Poker Arena

Table selection at a brick and mortar poker room is relatively easy. You have to make a few assumptions about the tables in the room. You need to make an honest assessment of your skills, too.

Don’t sit down at the first empty seat you come across. Stand on the rail and watch each table for a few minutes to get a feel for the games. Are they playing loose-aggressive? Are any of the players tight-passive? What about the stacks, are they full stacks or are they short? Is there a bachelor party of five guys all drinking beers? Get yourself in that game, pronto!

Wait for a table to become available where you feel you have a legitimate edge over the majority of the table.

Table Selection in the Online Poker World

Most online poker sites have dozens of cash games running at any one time. The cash game lobbies show various stats to make table selection a walk in the park.

Every site shows VPIP, Average Pot, and Hand Per Hour as a bare minimum. Use these stats to your advantage. Sort the lobby by VPIP first. This stat shows how loose a game is playing. VPIP shows how often players are voluntarily putting money into the pot preflop. There will be some anomalies at extreme ends of the scale, but you’ll be able to see an average.

Low VPIP games play very tight. Conversely, high VPIP games are loose. Combine this stat with the average pot size to see if people are splashing around in pots. A high VPIP, high average pot game is playing fast and loose.

Choose a table that suits your style the best. Choose a looser game if you play tight, choose a tighter game if you play loose. This is because you win more money playing a style the opposite of your opponents.

Always Be Willing To Move Table

Table selection doesn’t stop just because you’ve found the perfect seat. Cash games change quickly and go from good to bad in an instant. All it needs is a certain player to get up and leave and the dynamics flip on their heads.

There is no reason at all to stay in a bad game. Likewise, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be looking for a better table than what you’re sat at now.

The grass isn’t always greener, however, so be prepared to swap seats if the table isn’t to your liking. Don’t be afraid to move tables several times during your session. You’re playing poker to make money and you’ll make more money with good table selection.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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