PokerSpoils Newsletter

Enter your email address below so I can send you exclusive promotions that I am not allowed to advertise on this website!


Popular Pages

Things to Consider when Choosing a Poker Table to Play At

Let’s say you want to play a cash game of no limit Texas Hold’em, then you have options. There are hundreds of tables to choose from online, and if you’re in a real life casino, there are tens of tables to join. Which one do you go to?

The first thing you want to do is filter down the tables to pick the ones that have the right price tag for you, and that’s based on the blinds. How do you determine if you’re going to play a 5-10 table or a 10-20 table for instance? I don’t want to get into bankroll management concepts here, so I’ll just focus on picking a table for the sake of having a game.

Here’s a lesson I learned the hard way at the Belagio in Las Vegas, and this lesson applies to online poker as well: Never join a table with the minimum cash requirements. Every table has a minimum and a maximum amount of money you can bring in when you sit down and join the fun. Always bring the maximum amount because if you only bring the minimum, you’re joining in as a short stack and the sharks will attack you without mercy! Don’t put yourself at a disadvantage before even playing your first hand. So to answer my initial question about what table to pick price wise, go for the table where you can afford the maximum amount. If you can bring $500 to a 5-10 table and $1000 to a 10-20 table and you only have $600, then play the 5-10 table.

Consider statistics

A great advantage of online poker is the data that is provided in the lobby. Typically you get to access to information like the number of players, the average pot size, the number of hands per hour, the per player flop, etc. Use these numbers to your advantage and don’t just join the first table you see. For example, if I see a game that has a large number of players (8-10), an average pot size that is 15 times the big blinds or more, and a high percentage of per player flop (like 50%), I can make a conclusion from this data alone. In this case, I can easily figure out that we have a lot of callers pre-flop, but the aggressive post flop action is limited. It sounds like a table where players limp in, hoping to hit the flop but fold when they don’t hit it. It sounds like a table where my aggressive style will pay off! The secret to making money in poker is to figure out the mood at your table, the style of play used by most players, and playing the opposite way. At a tight table, you should be aggressive and at an aggressive table you should be tight. Without even loading up the table, just by glancing at these stats, I already know what to expect.

Consider chip stacks

In a real life casino, it’s not as easy to get accurate statistics unless you stand there and watch a table for an hour with your calculator in one hand. I’ve never seen this happen yet, and I would discourage you from starting that trend! What you can do however is observe and pay attention to everyone’s chip stack. If you see a table where a lot of players are joining with the minimum chip requirements, this is certainly a good spot to play at. If you see a table with a few players having stacks that are above the maximum requirements, it means that they probably know what they’re doing! It means they sat down with say $500 in chips if that was the maximum, and then won more chips. Take some time to study how they play. If you see someone who’s a grinder, meaning he or she is picking at opponents and gradually but steadily increasing their stack, they are trouble! These people make a living at picking the right tables and grinding what is essentially their pay check. By observing what’s going on, you can also pick up the mood of a table and figure out who’s aggressive and who’s conservative. That can help you make a choice.

More Things you Should Consider When...