Game Selection in Live Poker
Game selection will always be one of the easiest ways to increase your earnings in poker. With live poker, game selection will require more time and effort. In online games, players are able to easily scan through lists of games in a matter of seconds.
In brick and mortar poker rooms, however, you'll need to actually walk around and try to determine which tables look like they would be the most profitable. This then requires that you know what to look for in a game, when to move, and so on and so forth. While the idea behind game selection is incredibly simple in and of itself, the most effective game selectors will constantly be looking for a better game. There are elements of skill involved in just about every aspect of poker, and game selection is certainly not an exception to this rule.
Finding Good Games
If you are new to live poker, you might not have an idea which types of players will generally be weaker than others. As a general rule of thumb, the older players will tend to be the less skilled players. This does not mean that a 90 year old will always be worse than a 20 year old, however. There's an odd shaped association between age and skill level.
Young players tend to either be good or bad and are most often the aggressive players. Middle aged players are usually the ones who are spewing chips left and right, losing buy in after buy in. The older players will usually play very tightly, and while bad, they don't tend to hand out money like the middle aged players. As you can see, the middle aged players are definitely the ones that you will want to go after as they are both bad and are ready and capable of giving money away.
The absolute most ideal live poker table would be full of players from age 25-65. This is the age group that you should be keeping an eye out for more than anything else. The second best type of table would be a mix between young and much older players. You'll be able to face the occasional young player who is bad, all the while chipping away at the older players' stack.
If you are a regular player in a few different rooms, you'll inevitably end up running into a number of players on repeated occasions. As a result of this, the best thing that you can do is to determine who is bad, who is good, and who falls somewhere in between. You should always be looking to lock up a seat on the table(s) with an abundance of bad players, but be careful to not make what you are doing known to said bad players.
Even a weak poker player will usually have the awareness to realize that you are only sitting at their table because you think that they are bad. It's fine to be friendly with the weak players, but it makes zero sense whatsoever to make it known that you are only there because of their money and their money alone.
When to Switch Tables
Depending on where you play live poker, there's a legitimate chance that there are only going to be a few games running in the limit and game type that you are looking for. Because of this, you may not have the ability to game select at all. In these instances, your only other option is to sit out if you feel that the game is particularly bad. Of course, in doing this you are admitting that you can not beat the game, and the truth is that just about all small and mid limit live poker games are very beatable regardless of who is sitting at them.
In online poker sites, table hopping in order to gain a minimal edge is advisable. It takes little effort, you are likely playing multiple tables, and switching back to another game is very easy to do. With live poker, however, it's a long process to switch from table to table. You'll need to ask the floor, find an open seat, rack up, sit back down, wait for or post your blinds, etc. etc.
Unless you find this process to be enjoyable, you'll soon realize that switching tables is only proper if the game is really worth moving to. Don't hop to another game just because it might be better than the one you are currently at. The time, money, and effort lost isn't worth switching from something that's not likely to net you a lot more money in the end.
You may want to check out our table selection in online poker article if you do much online play. Finding the best tables at an online poker site is a bit different than in a live casino.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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