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Choosing the Right Poker Game

Other than proper strategy, game selection is one of the easiest ways to ensure a profit at the tables. In a nutshell, game selecting is when you look for the best possible table to join. For example, if there was a full ring cash game going on where 6/9 players were solid winners, along with two complete fish, you would pass up on this game to join a different table where 6/9 players were easy money.

This is an extremely simplified example and a lot more thought and work will need to go into actual game selecting. Whether or not players realize it, game selecting is very much a skill that needs to be practiced. The premise of game selecting is not complicated, but doing it correctly will definitely require some added effort.

Game selecting strategies will vary from game to game. A cash game player is going to select their tables in a very different way than a tournament or sit and go player. Nonetheless, all types of poker players can apply a sound game selecting strategy to their daily routines. It is a step that will be like second nature once you get into a rhythm. Before you even decide to play or not to play, you should consider whether the games are likely to be good.

One of the main factors in how good the games are is what time you are playing. In the middle of the day (for US players/sites) you are not going to find tables that are generally running over with fish. On a Friday night, however, you should expect to find an overwhelming number of great games. This is a very basic illustration of how game selection can be pivotal in your overall earnings.

Players who decide not to game select either enjoy burning money or haven’t realized how important it is. There is nothing tasking about adding proper game selection to your skill set, so it only makes sense to start trying right away.

Cash Games

Cash games are the focal point of all game selection. While tournaments and SNGs do have varying degrees of game selection available, they do not come close to matching how vital game selection is in ring games. You can pick and choose exactly who you are playing in cash games. In most cases you will not have this ability with MTTs or SNGs.

The actual players that you are sitting with should be the first and primary area that you analyze whenever you contemplate joining a ring game. If you are working with poker software and have statistics/history on the players who are already playing, it will give you an edge that be taken advantage of.

Depending on how large the site is that you play on and how often you play, you will also run into a lot of familiar names over time. Now, if you play in the penny limit games, don’t expect to see any given player on a day to day basis. If you are a small stakes or mid stakes player, however, you will likely notice that you run into the same players over and over again. This is both good and bad.

It is good because you will know each player’s individual tendencies, but it is bad because it implies that these other players are more likely to be winning. Once you can identify who the solid players are at the games, you can then go ahead and decide where you should not be sitting.

A process of elimination is often the best way to approach game selecting. You are much more likely to have history and know about the players who are winners, but you won’t know a whole lot about the unfamiliar names who are more apt to be losers. As a result, it is almost always better to target the tables where you don’t recognize any of the players. Of course, if you recognize some names as consistently weak players, that would make your life 10x easier. In all likelihood, though, you will be weeding out the bad tables in hopes of finding a few good ones.

Tournaments and Sit and Gos

Tournaments and Sit and Gos will allow for game selecting to a certain extent. You aren’t going to be able to see exactly who you are playing against, but the certain limits or game types will generally cater to a set quality of player. For example, the Sunday Million will have a better overall standard of play than a random $20 turbo tournament.

Game selecting in MTTs and SNGs is more about playing in the games that you are comfortable with and less about deciding who to play against. If you can beat a certain limit game, your opponents will average out in the end no matter what, so it would make little sense to skip a game only because a few skilled players are sitting.

Always look for the softest games, but don’t stress out trying to determine whether a field is tough. Tournament and SNG fields remain similar from event to event, so much of the work is already done for you as a result.

More General Poker Strategy
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