Table and Seat Selection for Ring Games

pickseatbossYou will see many novices join any available online poker table to start playing their favorite ring games without putting any thought into what table or seat to pick. Many online poker players don’t consider that there’s a process to it all, and it can be just as important as playing fundamentally solid poker.

Experienced grinders know that there definitely needs to be some thought put into choosing the best ring game tables and seat positions as some tables and seats are better than others.

When selecting online poker cash games you would like to play at it is always good to consider a few things with the first consideration being given to the limit you’re comfortable playing at.

It’s of utmost importance that you always be properly bankrolled for the games you’re playing, as this will allow you to play optimally without playing with scared money. It is also good to know that you can beat a certain limit before moving up in stakes.  Utilizing smart money management and knowing your opponents is the best way to stay in the game long-term and become a profitable player.

Studying Your Opponents’ Stats and Flop %’s

Another thing that is good to do whenever you’re deciding what cash game table to play at is to look at the percentage of players who are seeing the flop as well as the average size of the pot. You can always see these table stats because they’re the usual statistics displayed next to each table.

Incredibly enough, many online poker players choose to totally disregard these stats when the fact of the matter is that any winning online poker player should be taking them into consideration. The players/flop percentage and the average pot size are very useful because they will tell you whether a table is loose or not. The higher these numbers are, the looser the table is, and the higher the chances the table will be packed full of terrible players.

Pretty much all online poker sites show detailed player statistics for each table, the difference being that not every room will have loose tables. It depends on the kinds of players the poker room attracts. If a lot of cash game grinders play at the site because there are plenty of tables and games being spread, the play can be a bit tighter and more solid, but at a softer poker site, you will never have much difficulty finding a loose table to play at, with players/flop percentages in the range of 50-60%, which are always going to be incredibly juicy.

Recognizing Aggressors and Stack Sizes

With that being said, finding the best cash games doesn’t end with finding a good table. When you’re playing cash games, there is such a thing as a bad seat at a good table. In fact, it could even be said that seat selection is more important than table selection. This is especially true if you’re playing at the micro stakes, where you’re basically guaranteed of having some bad players at your table.

But you want to have position for the majority of the hands you play on the targets at the table. Generally speaking, you want to have tight straightforward players seated on your left and calling stations, fish, aggressive players and maniacs who like raising and re-raising a lot on your right. Reason being that the aggressive players will be very active and can make life difficult for you when they’re on your left.

But with them on your right they have to act first in the hand, the only time this isn’t true is when they’re on the button and you’re in the small blind. Also, by having position on the weaker players at your table, it makes it much easier for you to isolate them and outplay them after the flop because fish usually play fit or fold poker, and a continuation bet will often take down the pot even when you miss.

For the same reason, having short stacked players on your left is also less than ideal. A lot of short stackers will buy-in to the game for 30-50bb. There are different types of short stackers, but the aggressive ones will be shoving all-in preflop a lot, meaning you will have to open a bit tighter than you would normally, which sucks because you can’t play a normal deep stacked game expecting to see the flop.

Utilizing Poker HUD’s (ie Holdem Manager or PokerTracker)

Obviously, when you first sit down at a poker table, you can’t expect to know how each and every player at the table will play.  You’ll only know this if you have player notes or use a poker HUD and have some history with a regular.

But there are some good “fish” indicators that suggest that someone probably isn’t very good and you would hope to get position on these players. A good one being if you see a player post their blinds before waiting for the big blind to come around to them, is usually a sign of a bad player. Weak players also don’t usually make use of auto top-up.

When all is said and done, if you can’t sit down at a ring game table and have mostly TAGs to your left and LAGs directly to your right, then you want to find another ring game to play at. But the great thing about online poker is that there is usually always plenty of cash game action, it’s just a matter of finding the most suitable table/seat. You may not be able to locate the perfect seat at the perfect table, but if you put some thought into the process of table and seat selection, it will have a huge impact on your overall winrate.