Regardless of your skill level, at the end of the day your success at the live and the online poker table hinges on one factor only: the people you play against. You can be a weaker player and make money at a given table while a much better player struggles at a different table. Since the object of poker is not to attempt to beat the best (unless you turn it into some sort of a macho contest that is), but to make money, table selection becomes an important poker skill.
Together with rakeback, sign-up bonuses and other loyalty perks, table selection is part of a category I call “off-table” factors, which have to be perfectly correlated with your actual poker skills to yield results or to maximize existing edges.
Everyone talks about how important table selection is in online poker, though few people ever discuss the actual way to select a good table online. Here are a few pointers to make it easier for you to find loose passive or even weak tight opposition and to cash in on other players’ lack of skill.
You know all those statistics that reviewers talk about when they dissect the software of a given online poker room…The viewed flop percentages, the average pot sizes etc. Well, those are there for a reason, and that reason is they can be used in table selection.
As soon as you hit the lobby, look for a table that features a high “flops viewed” percentage. A high percentage here means that there are plenty of multi way pots happening at the table and several players limp along to the finish line, only to have their hopes busted there. What is this if it’s not the accurate description of a fish I ask you? These guys are the loose passive players you’re looking for. They play many hands (too many for their own good) and they limp a lot, which means they’re passive when it comes to betting. Loose passive is actually the best type of fish you can find.
Of course, you can’t take the viewed flops percentage out of context. The same value can mean a different thing in one poker room than in another, and sometimes the data you see displayed is skewed. A short handed table which recently filled up shows high flops viewed rates. Take a look at the hands/hour rate to identify such tables.
Of course, looking around and analyzing table stats can be a time consuming effort. If you’re in a hurry, yet you do not want to end up at a bad table, just create your own or join a newly created one where a regular awaits the action to commence. With two players in the game, it is generally safe to assume the third player will be a fish. Even if you’re sitting alone at your newly created table, you’ve got a nice chance to be joined by short-stacked fish who are looking for a short handed table.
If a guy joins your table on a short-stack, he’s almost certainly a fish. While not all short tacked players are fish, it is safe to assume that the majority of them are, because a good players knows the importance of a full stack. The stack is like a weapon: the bigger it is, the more damage it’ll do when fired. In order to make money at the table, you need to have money at the table. Those who fail to recognize this simple truth can be classified as fish.