There are multiple forms of table camping that occur in todays online poker games, and in some cases it is making it challenging to find a table to play at. At times I will see dozens of tables open at high stakes with players simply camped out waiting for a fish. One of the most classic cases of high stakes players opening dozens of tables is when the legendary “Scout326” makes an appearance at PokerStars. That guy has fed the high stakes games at PokerStars for years and literally lost millions. Over time, the strategy has increasingly become known as a common and effective strategy for finding weak players across multiple networks. Years ago when table selection was much less of an issue table camping was almost non-existent. Today, it is prevalent at all games across almost all stake levels.
The most common form of table camping occurs when poker players abuse the “sit out” option when playing in cash games. However, I would define table camping in a much broader way than ^. Table camping is more a matter of intent than anything. If you are sitting at a table but not intending to play unless a specific event occurs (which presumably is what you are waiting for), I would classify that as table camping.
One of the misnomers about this term is that you have to be “sitting out” to qualify as table camping. In fact, if you are sitting at 100 tables and you only intend to play if one particular fish shows up then you are effectively table camping. Many of the pioneering table campers were high stakes players looking for fish or waiting hours or even days to get a big fish over at PokerStars high stakes games. Over time the strategy spread to lower and lower games and is now prevalent all over heads up games on every poker network.
PokerStars has more table camping than any other network in my experience. In fact, I would say that players at PokerStars were the original creators of table camping en masse. Interestingly, many of the most edge seeking behaviours originated out of PokerStars which is one of the most dog eat dog websites in the poker world. I have written extensively in the past about why I don’t play on that network, and why if you do quitting PokerStars makes sense. Table selecting bots also initially made their appearance over on PokerStars and in many cases were proprietary before spreading to other networks.
There are a few reasons why players engage in table camping.
If you are trying to table select but you find yourself consistently losing out to seating scripts table camping can be an effective way to counteract them. Most seating scripts require you to “capture” the tables that you want to be seated at if a weak player shows up. One way to combat this is to constantly open new tables and close old ones, which can make things very annoying for someone trying to run a script. Additionally, if you open enough tables some seating scripts limit the number of tables that they allow you to capture.
If we could rewind ten years or so none of the ^ was really a problem. As players have become increasingly desperate to maintain their edge and their winnings this kind of behaviour increased in frequency. Grimming, stalking, table camping, they all kind of go hand in hand and are a product of the tough poker environment that we face in 2017.
Hope you liked the article, I always welcome feedback. Don’t forget to pickup my book Exploitive No Limit Holdem if you haven’t already!