Table Selecting In Poker – Why It Matters

There has been a lot of chatter lately in the poker community about poker table selecting. I have discussed the topic before in my post on poker bumhunting, but I think that it is worth revisiting. This is a kickoff post for me since I will be exploring the topic of poker software in the coming weeks. Poker software, is increasingly linked to table selecting (due to the prevalence of scripts.

What Is Poker Table Selecting?

Table selecting is the act of selecting a table and a seat. In online poker, table selecting is a bit of an art. Most partially understand the importance, but many don’t focus enough on it. Unfortunately, poker is a zero sum game (with a large rake being withdrawn) and that makes it very difficult to win at. Unless their is significant value in the game or their is an incredible rewards program it is difficult to be profitable. Following the recent PokerStars VIP Changes it is even more difficult to win without a weak player around. Poker networks all over the world have been cutting back significantly on player rewards, which has had the effect of intensifying poker table selecting.

Table Selecting Techniques

1) Poker Lobby Scan. Scanning the poker lobby for big pot size and/or percentage is a good starting point.

2) Start New Tables: This is one of the oldest and most effective ways to find action. Often if you start a new game a weak player will come an join.

3) Search For A Player: At high stakes games in particular this is a very popular technique. Note, some websites have eliminated the search box.

4) Computer Software In Poker: In today’s games computer software has become increasingly popular for table selecting. You can expect a post on me in the near future where I discuss this in further detail. This is the cutting edge of table selection in online poker today and is highly controversial.

Poker Table Selection and The Poker Ecosystem?

A lot has been made about the effect that poker table selecting has on the poker ecosystem. I do not feel that poker table selecting has had a significant effect on the volume of poker being played. Obviously, if a bunch of regulars would just sit and play each other (all basically losing) while the house made money on the rake, volumes would be higher. However, this is simply not a realistic expectation.

IMO, the intensity of poker table selecting in today’s poker environment is more a product of the poor position of today’s poker economy than it is the cause. Lots of player (in particular on two plus two) seem to love to run around trolling about how table selectors are causing the downfall of poker, but that is so far from being the case. Best to think of it as the symptom not the disease.

How The Poker Economy Broken

For the past decade there has been a fundamental problem with how many poker operators run their businesses. Instead of recognizing the need for recreational players, they focused on high volume regulars. This led them to compete against each other to give out the most in player rewards to players who were in many cases already significant winners at the game. Poker operators would have been far better off reinvesting those dollars toward recreational player rather than wasting them on regulars. If we look today at one of the networks that has had the most success growing their business it is Bovada. Their model is much more attractive to rec players (no rakeback for regs, max 4 tables, and fully anonymous).

In my article on Daniel Negreanu Leaving PokerStars, I referenced an interview he did where he basically said the exact same thing that I am. A classic example of the broken model is that many operators are raking microstakes games at an absurdly high level and rapidly driving away new players. Over the next 5-10 years I would expect a significant transformation to take hold across the poker industry. Only once this broken model is repaired will we once again start to see growth in the industry – dare we dream for another poker boom…..

Table Selecting Strategy

Seat selection is incredibly important in online poker. Players should sit as close to the left of a weak player as possible. Why? Because it will allow you to maximize the # of times that you are able to play pots against this weak player with position. As we all know position in poker is incredibly important. In many ways your position matters more than your absolute hand strength. Ideally you will be able to play in a highly exploitive manner with position against a weak player.

I discuss position and exploitive play frequently in my book exploitive no limit holdem. A great deal of poker literature in recent years has been focused on GTO poker, which has led many players to take their eye of the ball of what is important. I am a huge fan of GTO (but its applications are limited), and I have found through many years of experience in this game (see my article a Insights After A Decade In Poker) that the more creatively and exploitively a player thinks about the game the better they will do.

5 Table Selecting tips In Poker

  1. Snipe the “Jesus seat” An important part of table selection strategy involves getting the Jesus seat. You will frequently hear this term and it simply refers to the seat to the immediate left of a weak player. It is the most profitable or least unprofitable seat (depending on your perspective) seat to be in. Generally the only way to get the Jesus seat is to have tables up already. When a weak player is seated grab the seat to his left.
  2. Seating Scripts – these have become increasingly common and necessary at all stake levels. I did a product review for Need-4-Seat as they have a pretty good seating script.
  3. Table camping, which I have written a post on in the past.
  4. Seat hopping at short handed tables. If there are only 3-4 of you at a table and a weak player shows up, switch seats to give yourself a better position at the table.
  5. Computer software that identifies weak marked players. There are a number of companies that do this.

Best of luck at the tables! Oh and please pickup a copy of my book :).

-ThePokerCapitailst (No nonsense, no ads, straight talk on poker)

 

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