If you want to really excel at the poker tables, then the “need for action” that a lot of us have must be contained while you patiently look for a group that appears to have as many loose/poor players as possible. This reminds me of something that I read in a Doyle Brunson book (the man is such a great poker player….but is also quite a “gambler” underneath.) Doyle hinted that whenever he wanted to play some cards, he and those around him would just shuffle up and deal any game at any time they could. Now with all due respect to a poker legend: he is dead wrong here. If his attitude is the one that describes you, then you’re playing poker for the fun of the game much moreso than to make a lot of money. I should clarify that there is nothing wrong with that! If you enjoy the companionship and sport of playing cards and the profits are secondary, then you’re more than welcome to have that kind of fun. But, any player (regardless of skill level) is going to have to be much more selective of their opponents if they want the chance for their dollars to really multiply. It is simply THE most important factor in achieving a high win rate at the tables.
How are the right players found? Since I am almost exclusively an on-line player, I will focus on that aspect. The common perception is to look for a table with a high # of people seeing the flop (30 to 40% is realistic at a full table) and a large average pot (6-7 times the big bet or higher.) These factors are very important because they show that at least some of the players are being too loose with their chips. However, sometimes those statistics are only based on the last 5 or 10 minutes of hands. And, a game can also have some poor players who haven’t really gotten going yet (or who haven’t had time to tilt some others at the table.) Therefore, it can really be helpful to look past the game statistics and try to find other reasons why a table might be fishy.
I have complied a short list of ideas that should be helpful in finding those valuable fish. In some cases, I’ve had to censor certain specifics because I don’t want to inadvertently offend any of our readers! In fact, I still might accidentally do so because I’m going to make certain generalizations that will probably apply to someone somehow. If that does happen, then bear in mind that there are always exceptions to the rule and that anyone who uses ITH might likely be one!
That being said….when you’re searching the tables, I would also look for the following types of players:
— Those with an arrogant and/or immature sounding name. A good example might be “Igotskillzzzz” or “DMan69.” Players like these are often young, inexperienced people who have not acquired the skills or discipline to be anywhere near a long-term winner yet. When you notice someone like this raising too often, then all the better….if a good seat is open (i.e. on his left), sit down immediately!
— Those who have anything porn-related in their name or avatar (I don’t think I have to specify what names or pics that might be!) This is usually a telltale sign of someone who has spent more time reading Hustler than learning how to play cards as well as Larry Flint! In all my time of playing on-line, I can’t recall a single premier high-limit player who had a porn name or pic as his monicker.
— Those who have bought in for a much bigger table stake than needed (say, $2000 at 2-4.) That often indicates that the person is too caught up in showing off or trying to intimidate the table (or, even better, playing in a game so far beneath his roll that he won’t take it seriously enough.) It can also happen when someone has been tilted by another player and wants to imply “see, look here….I’m better than you thought.” In all of these cases, the person is often too loose or not focused enough to play a winning game.
— Ok, this last one is tricky…..those from certain areas of the US (and, from certain areas of the world.) While I feel that there are definitely specific regions and countries as a whole that play better (or worse) poker than average, there’s no way that I’m going to get on the bad side of some of our readers by elaborating on my personal opinions here! Thus, everyone will have to do their own homework and decide for themselves on this one.
Keep in mind that the more of these characteristics you find in a player, the better. If anyone ever sees someone named Igetbootaaay with a pic of Jenna Jameson and $25,000 sitting at 30-60, please PM me immediately! 🙂
Hopefully you’ll be able to find some more fishies in the poker pond now; next month, I’ll talk about some of the best ways to deplete them of their bankroll after you sit down.
All the best,