I’ve been living in Las Vegas and playing cash game poker in the casino card rooms for over a decade. While much is written about poker strategy and adjusting to more aggressive play during the No-Limit Hold ‘em boom the past decade, I’m here to discuss the importance of table selection.
Patience, position, probability, and player profiles and tendencies all play a part in a poker player’s proficiency to win consistently and produce profit. But all players including top professionals have losing sessions that can turn into frustrating losing streaks.
So to become the best poker player you can be, you need to not only think for yourself, but learn the game at a higher level by understanding and applying methods to changing situations and strategies.
Most skilled players I know have patience. But too often many players believe their skill level is better than they think and thus they can sit down in most any game and win.
A player’s skill level should include the ability to identify weaker games, players and be willing to leave a table with stronger skill players to find a more beatable game. Sure some poker rooms may only have 2-3 games going depending on when and where you play, but the ability to be persistent in discovery can play just as big a role as your skill traits and patience in poker. Advantage players know this, no different than a sharp sports bettor who shops for the best lines at various sports books and takes +3.5 in a NFL or college football game where many other sports books have posted ‘3’ as the betting line.
Part of establishing good habits in poker can simply start with identifying games which give you a better chance to win. For an intermediate or advance player, this will become a key component in establishing a better win rate and showing you’re competent and care enough to improve your proficiency to win.
Your next poker decision should not just be while playing at the table, but embracing the opportunity to improve your win rate by locating an edge before a hand is dealt.
So the next time you’re in a poker room or on a waiting list, walk around the room and watch a few games. Due some due diligence and research by checking out the players at the table, chip stacks and watch some of the play for 15-30 minutes to identify the texture of the game and some player’s tendencies.
It may be the most important investment of time you make in your pursuit of profit.