Online Table SelectionArticle By: RuffPoker.com
When you play online poker the first thing you need to do is select a table. This may seem a simple concept and something to be done without thought but that would be a foolish mindset. Online table selection should be a key part of your strategy. Far too many people see an opening at a table and just sit down and start to play. They do not consider the level of chips their opponents have around the table, they don’t watch a few hands to gauge ability or style, and they certainly don’t consider the best position to be seated. All are key factors in choosing an online poker table, it is of paramount importance if you are to maximise you opportunities, avoid quality players and capitalise on your strengths as a poker player.
First and foremost, when considering which online poker table to sit at you need to find a table that has players of lesser ability than yourself. OK this may sound obvious and difficult to work out, but by sitting and watching a table for a few minutes you will work this out. You will know your own style, are you passive or aggressive, tight or loose? If for example you play a passive game then sitting at a table with lots of raising and re-raising, bluffing and aggression is not going to see you win very much. Rather you are going to get called and made to sweat through a lot of folds. Similarly, if you play a very aggressive style then playing at a table which is tight and passive is going to frustrate you into making errors and force the betting. This can work to your advantage as you can steal many pots but in the long run somebody will start to realize what is happening and it only takes one player or one hand for your profits to be wiped out.
To find a table with players of lesser abilities check out the statistics of each player, hand history, hands per hour, % of players seeing the flop and average pot size. In an ideal world you want to be looking at tables where the hands per hour percentage is high. This way you aren’t constantly waiting for others to act and as a result the fast paced nature of each hand provides more opportunities to win pots. I would say the most perfect table for online poker is one which is loose. This is best deduced from the statistic for % of players seeing the flop. Anything over 40%, especially at a 10 seat table is a good mark, 50% and above and you are looking at a very loose table. Anything over 70% and you have a serious level of happy callers.
After analyzing the % in on the flop you need to consider the average size of pots that have been changing hands during the course of the game. Much like the % in on the flop you can see what style of play is driving the table when you look at the average pot size. If the pot sizes are small, coupled with a lower than 30% ratio of players entering the flop then this is a table that will not provide many opportunities for financial gain. This table is passive and tight. What you want is a table with larger average pots, lots of action going in and a quick turnaround of pots to the winner of each hand. This is not to say that passive tables are not worth joining. Of course if you are an aggressive player then you can also win at passive tables and for a change of approach they can provide a steady profit, but you have to know for certain that you are going to be able to bully people at such tables, and once you don’t and get caught out, you have to be prepared to walk away as your tactic has been exposed.
Last but by no means least the third key consideration when choosing and online poker table is the balance (stack of chips) that each of your would-be opponents has. Here you need to be aware of the buy-in to enter the table and any players that have considerably more than this and you are potentially looking at a strong player. Of course players can put in more than this minimum buy-in amount and some will, thinking this tactic will scare people away, many good players also sit at tables with as low a balance as possible in an attempt to look non descript. However in the main players join tables with the standard buy-in amount. As such, look at a few hands and be very cautious of players with high chip stacks. These are players that most likely have a strong table image, have had some success already and have a good idea of how others are playing. Of course you being new to the table, they would have to be cautious and treat you with respect for a few hands, but soon they will figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and pressure your hands as they have been doing to others.
In all, when choosing an online poker table a) look at the % of players seeing the flop, you want lots of loose players, b) look at the average size of pot, again you want this to be high and with a quick turnaround, c) look at the balance of each player at the table, you want to avoid tables with players holding substantial ‘gains’ and if there is no choice and this is the only table available to play at you really do want to be sitting in front of them when it comes to action. Make sure good players are sat on your right so that you get to see them act first. Then gauge your play on how they react to certain situations.