Guide to finding the softest tables to improve your win rate
If you want to improve your win rate at poker, there are thousands of resources that you’ll be able to find online – including forums, poker training sites, YouTube channels, poker information websites or more. However while all of these will spend a long time focusing on your strategy while at the tables, you’ll not find so much information in regards to selecting the right tables – and this actually represents one of the biggest factors in your win rate.
In this article I look at table selection across both sit n go’s and cash games. Starting with the sit n go’s I explain exactly how table selection can affect your win rate, and give some advice on how you’ll find softer games. I then move on to cash games and detail some of the specific methods you’ll be able to use when choosing a cash table.
Sit n Go Table Selection
There is one over-riding factor when choosing a table when playing poker – you want to play against bad players! In poker there is no need to be a hero by trying to beat the best. The aim of poker is to make money, and you’ll make money by playing against bad players, so this should always be your aim.
In sit n go’s there are two ways you can actually achieve this successfully.
The first way is to choose a site which has the weakest player base. Many people will immediately head to PokerStars, this due to the ease of multi-tabling and the amount of traffic at the site, but this also means that many good players play at the site, loading up a number of tables at a time, meaning that the games are crowded with these regular players. Why not play at a site where the games are nowhere near as tough? One way to ensure this is by playing at a site which has a sportsbook alongside the poker site – this will lead to many recreational players heading to the poker site after having a win at the horses, greyhounds, football or any other sports.
Of course, if you do play at a dedicated poker site, there are ways to find softer games. Get to know who the regular players are and avoid them. Some sites will have a number of tables registering at a time, so take a look for those players who are registered in all of them – these are the regulars you want to avoid. Many of these players can be avoided, because when they have their set number of tables going, they won’t be registering again for a while, so look for those spots when the regulars are not in town.
Consider, if you find yourself at a table of nine players where six or more of the other players are solid regulars, there is probably no profit to be had at all. Finding a table with just 2/3 regulars with the rest made up of average players or solid losers, will see your profit margin increase greatly.
Here is a challenge, put some tables from PokerStars and 888 Poker side-by-side (the same buy-in level) and see for yourself how much looser / crazier the 888 games are - it will be a 'face-palm' moment, and your bankroll will benefit. See those soft 888 games at www.888poker.com now.
Poker Cash Games Table Selection
When playing cash poker, you’ll still want to play at a site with a weaker player base, so head to those linked with a sportsbook. However there are some other methods you can use in choosing a good table.
The first method you can use is to look at two stats that are usually shown in the lobby of cash games – these being the average pot size and the Players/Flop. In both cases, the larger these numbers are, the looser the games will be and in general you’ll want to be heading for these tables. Using this method won’t work so well at a larger poker site, as there will be many players all trying to join the same tables – making them difficult to come by on occasions.
The other method you can use is by colour coding your opponents. Every time you meet an opponent at a table, give them a colour code based on how they play (the majority of sites offer this option). You can make this is simple or as complicated as you want, but you’ll want to quickly identify who the good and bad players are. Having done this over and over, you’ll quickly be able to spot the tables that are crowded with the good players and also pick out those fish quickly and easily. This will give you an edge over the players who are simply using the numbers to table select, especially if a fish has just sat down.
Smaller Poker Networks, particularly those which are primarily sports betting sites which also offer poker games are the ones to look for. Once again, the key factor is that you avoid the pros and play where the recreational players do.
Table Selection in Online Poker Overview
Table selection is huge when playing online poker – if you’re meeting good players all the time, you’ll never make progress, as you’ll never have that edge. Look for those bad players who will give you money more often than not, and your win-rate will look much more impressive.
Quick Note for US Readers
The same principles of course apply, though the offshore sites are smaller than the international giants. If you are a recreational player looking for soft games, then Bovada is my easy number one pick. They are 'anti-grinder' (prevent multi-tabling and many of the grinder tools), which keeps their tables super-soft. This has grown to be the biggest US poker site as a result. Check out www.bovada.lv - and see the easy games for youself!