Table Select to Grow Your Poker Bankroll, Part One

There’s a great saying in the poker world that you might have heard before: “It’s no good being the tenth best player in the world if the other nine are at your table.” While this aphorism is often used to remind players not to get too cocky or high on themselves, it also applies to building your poker bankroll.

Thankfully for disciplined, bankroll-aware players (as all of you are!), the opposite holds true as well. You don’t need to be a phenomenal poker player to consistently win and grow your bankroll if you invest some time and resources into choosing the best possible situations for yourself.

Table Selection

The basic way that we find these profitable situations is by table selection. Of course, you aren’t guaranteed to win any particular night, but in the long run, putting in the work to seek out the best tables will have a great effect on your bankroll. So, how do you do it?

The lobby of any poker room will display statistics of each table, including average pot size and the percentage of players who are seeing the flop.

As a basic rule of thumb, tables with a higher pot size and a higher percentage of players to the flop mean that the table has weaker players who stay in for too long with less than premium hands.

Peek in and Study the Players

It’s not enough to simply glance at the lobby and jump straight in; you should observe play for at least a round to get a feel for the players at the table. This usually shouldn’t be a problem since you need to wait to post the big blind anyway.

This is the time to watch and see if the lobby statistics seem to hold true and if the table looks to be a profitable environment. Great things to see include players limp/calling raises preflop as well as opponents showing down with weak hands. If you see plenty of tricky moves, lots of hands being won without a flop, and in general strong-looking players, it might be right to leave and look for a better table.

Your Work Doesn’t End When You Are Dealt In

As I hinted at in the previous section, table dynamics can change very quickly. Sometimes a great looking table only had those juicy stats because of one or two fish. The second they leave, you might be up against 8 rocks or TAGs.

When I’m playing multiple tables, I’m constantly surveying the lobby to see if there are any major changes or favorable new tables popping up. If I find one that looks better than the tables I’m currently playing, I’ll sit down and deal myself out when the big blind comes around at my least profitable table. (This is of course a bit of a guess, but I usually choose the table that has the smallest average post size or the most tight-aggressive players.)

If I say I’m going to play four No Limit poker tables this evening, this doesn’t mean that I will be playing the same four tables for hours. In fact, it might be the case that I end up at a completely new set of tables than the ones I started with. This is because I put energy into table selection, which significantly helps my bankroll over the long run.

In part two of this post, I’ll go over a few common pitfalls with table selection and a couple creative strategies to find the best tables.

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