Game selection is one of the easiest ways to increase your
overall win rate in online poker. Even though players will work
tirelessly towards improving their skill sets in order to make a
few more dollars per hour, there are many who don’t even give a
thought to the potential found in proper game selection. If you
are totally unfamiliar with the term, game selection is the
process of shopping around for the best games possible.
When you are seated at a table and see that a handful of others are
running, you should always be scouting the lineups in each game
to see if there’s more potential easy money available than what
you are currently working with. This is game selection in a
nutshell, and the following sections outline tips and tricks
that will go a long way towards your success in finding the best
games running at any given time.
How to Spot Good Games
The first thing that you’ll need to learn how to do in
order to most effectively game select is to figure out which
players are good, which are average, and which are bad. Needless
to say, you should be looking for those tables with the highest
density of bad and average players and the fewest winning
players. If you are new to online poker, or even if you’re
experienced and don’t use any type of poker tracking software,
this can be a challenge.
The easiest way to get familiar with players and their
strengths and weaknesses is to have a
HUD (heads up display) running at all times when you are
playing. A HUD will give you a quick snapshot of a player’s
tendencies over the sample size for which you have played with
them. If you haven’t been involved in many hands with any
particular player, the best thing that you can do is to assign
them with an average skill level at best. More likely than not,
you have already sat with the stronger players on your poker
site of choice at one point or another, provided of course that
you are a regular and put in a significant number of hands.
If you don’t use a HUD and/or do not want to use any type of
software, there’s still another easy way of remembering which
players fit into which skill level demographic. Virtually every
online poker site allows players to take notes on their
opponents. Because of this, you’ll be able to jot down
everything you pick up on a player as time goes by. The only
negative aspect of using this approach to tracking players is
that it will take a lot more time, effort, and persistence. If
you only take notes on rare occasions, you won’t have nearly
as much information as you should.
Along these same lines, you’ll also need to make sure that your notes are as precise and
useful as they can possibly be. One of the bad habits of online
poker players is taking short and/or out of context notes.
Writing down one hand history in a player’s notes isn’t going
to be very beneficial somewhere down the line. At the very
least, include the general skill level of a player in their
notes. If nothing else, notes will tell you whether or not you
want a particular player at your table.
When to Change Games
There’s always a chance to find a better game. Even if you
are sitting at a table full of the worst players you have ever
seen, it’s always possible that another game will start that’s
occupied by even worse players. This is the beauty in
online poker. There’s always a game breaking, a game
starting, and a game changing. If you play a lot of hands, you’ll start to notice that the stronger players hop around very
frequently. Anyone who takes online poker seriously will be
looking for ways to exploit their opponents whenever possible,
and game selection is one of the easiest ways to do this. In the
end, there’s never a bad time to change games. Don’t get
comfortable with where you are at, be vigilant, and always keep
an eye out for the easy money.
Sometimes you won’t notice a new table that would be
profitable, but instead will find a better seat within the table
that you are already playing at. Seat hopping is the act of
simply changing places in the same game, and it can really make
your life a whole lot easier. The main goal of seat hopping is
to get position on certain players.
For example, if there’s an
exceptionally strong opponent in your game, it would make a lot
of sense to switch to an empty seat on that player’s left should
you be presented with the opportunity. Likewise, having position
on a very weak player can also make it easier to play in pots
both pre and post-flop. There is a small segment of players who
will get upset when they notice someone constantly changing
seats, but rest assured knowing that there’s nothing wrong with
improving your position at any table, no matter how much someone
might harass you.
Bum hunting is the negative connotation attached to game
selection in heads up matches. A bum hunter is a player who is
said to play against weak opponents and weak opponents only. On
one hand, it’s only logical to play only opponents that you are
better than, but on the other hand you’ll be admitting that
you aren’t a very strong player. Bum hunting isn’t so much a
matter of profit as it is a matter of reputation. For most
players, it won’t matter whether you adhere to this
online poker strategy or not, and it’s even advisable.
The only players who are given a hard time for bum hunting
are high stakes players. They will create a bad reputation among
their peers and will be prone to jeers from railbirds. Unless
you are playing in nosebleed games, however, bum hunting is just
another way to increase your bottom line without any
Game and table selection is also very important when playing
in a live casino. If you play live poker, we suggest giving our
live poker game selection article a read. It may help you
increase your winnings next time you’re in a casino.
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