Table Selection

Before logging into a particular table, make use of the information provided in the Lobby. Table selection can make a huge difference in influencing whether you can enjoy a winning or losing session. Study the information provided about each table before deciding which one to join.

The key statistics here are those concerning the average size of the pot and the amount of players seeing the flop. Contained within these two figures is information about how loose or tight, how passive or aggressive, the table has been in recent hands. This is how to interpret it:

  • A large pot size, combined with a low percentage of players seeing the flop, suggests that the game is tight and aggressive, with players regularly raising pre-flop and only one player calling or re-raising.
  • A large pot size, combined with a high percentage of players seeing the flop, suggests that this is a loose/aggressive game, where the players are raising pre-flop and receiving many callers.
  • A small pot size, combined with a low percentage of players seeing the flop, suggests that players are not raising before the flop and if there is a raise, only one player is calling. This could be described as a tight/passive game.
  • A small pot size, combined with a high percentage of players seeing the flop, suggests a loose/passive game, where many players are calling pre-flop, there is not very much raising and when a player does raise; other players tend to fold.

We recommend you always join a table in the c) or d) sections. It would allow you to raise pre-flop and frighten away players and also to call with marginal or speculative hands (such as suited-connectors) and expect to see the flop cheaply. A table with the characteristics of a) would be a high-pressure situation where every raise you make may be tested with a re-raise and where you would rarely get to see the flop cheaply. The problem is a large proportion of online poker players never follow this advice.

If you follow the information provided, you already have a distinct advantage over your opponents. That advantage will hopefully translate into money.

By all means it’s worth spending an extra 2 to 3 minutes studying the site before you start playing.

Seat Selection

You reach the table and find that you have a choice of two seats. Where should you sit? If you have notes on the players or you observe them for a few minutes, you may be able to detect the aggressive player, who raises a lot and the weak players, who often call and frequently fold. If you can, use this information to seat yourself correctly.

As a general rule, you want:

Aggressive players to your right, so they have to act before you decide what to do and commit any chips to the pot.

Loose, passive players who fold and call a lot to your left, so that if they raise you know they are strong and you can, usually fold, saving yourself further money. If they call, you have a good chance of milking them for profits; if they won’t fold regularly, then you can raise them off the pot pre-flop or subsequently.

Full Table or Short Table?

There are major differences between playing at a full table of nine or ten players and playing a short table of five or six players. The difference also occurs when you start off with nine other players, but four leave and you find yourself playing five-or six-handed.

The more players there are at the table, the more likely it is that there will be good starting hands and that the flop will connect and make for stronger hands. In short, the more players there are, the higher the value of the average winning hand will be. At tables where there are only five or six players, the value of the hand increases because it is less likely that there will be big hands elsewhere. When you come down to three-handed play or Heads-Up play, cards which you would normally have folded may instantly become playable.

Here’s a very simple example:

You hold K, J. If you were at a ten-player table and you saw the cards, sitting in, say mid-position at the table, your standard action would probably be to fold or to call. If you were at a six-player table, in mid-position, your standard action would be to call or raise.

If you were playing Heads-Up against a single opponent, your standard action would be to raise. The fewer the players at the table, the stronger this marginal hand becomes. Always remember, at a short-handed table, the blinds come around to you much more quickly. If you are playing at a $1/$2 table, this means that every six hands you are losing $3. That is why you must be more aggressive and proactive when playing at a short table than at a full table.