Game Selecting - The Basics
Game selection is possibly one of the most underrated poker skills, like bankroll management, all too often players ignore the importance of good game selection. Put simply, game selection is all about finding weaker opposition to play, while avoiding the better players whenever possible. You stand to make more money from weaker opposition than you will make continually playing at tables that are full of regulars that are much tougher to play. Many if not most players foolishly believe they can be the next Isildur1 and crush every opponent they cross swords with on the felt, but this is a delusional and highly unrealistic notion that will ultimately damage your win rate.
While Victor Blom has been incredibly successful playing HU NLH, had he applied basic game selection and bankroll management, I can confidently say he would never have busted his bankroll on Full Tilt Poker and he would most likely be a huge winner on Poker Stars, but neither is the case. The moral of the story is, even one of the most talented NLH players to break on to the scene has struggled to game select optimally, and this is reflected in his results.
If you examine Phil Galfond, who's renowned for his methodical game selection, you will see an entirely different picture. If I can't convince you of the importance of game selection, these graphs should help illustrate my point. Here are 4 graphs of two different players, one of them (Phil Galfond) practices solid game selection, the other (Isildur1) doesn't. Isildur's downfall was a combination of poor game selection and bankroll mismanagement of epic preportions.
MrSweets28 (Phil Galfond) v Isildur1 (Viktor Blom) PokerStars
OMGClayAiken (Phil Galfond) v Isildur1 (Viktor Blom) PokerStars
Hopefully you're now more convinced of the merits of good game selection and bankroll management skills, these two above sets of graphs are almost like mirror images of each other, Galfond clearly has a methodicaly disciplined approach to both these aspects of poker.
A number of variables will decide whether or not a game is good, if you follow these basic rules for game and poker site selection, you'll do infinitely better than those who don't. All the following information is available in any poker lobby before you sit and play at any given table. Number of players, or percentage of players to the flop, the higher the better and the lower the tougher the games are likely to be.
Pot and stack sizes, loose tables are going to have a lot of action, thus creating lots of big pots, when scanning through tables look out for above average pot sizes along with players to the flop. Stack sizes should also be taken in to account, avoid tables where there are mostly players with short stacks (50 big blinds or less).
To have a better chance of encountering weaker opposition you should play during peak times, 17:00 – 01.00 is usually the best time to play, along with weekends. Here's an interesting fact, sharks do most of their hunting at dusk and dawn, both ideal poker playing times, at dusk you can catch the tail end of peak times in other time zones. A large waiting list is another tell tale sign that there's weak opposition on the table, however I tend to avoid these tables because as soon as the weaker opposition gets cleaned out, the table could be filled by a bunch of ravenous sharks by the time a seat opens.
If you can't find suitable games that meet all the above criteria, then it's time to find another poker site that does, if you're having difficulty finding enough action on any one particular room, you should consider spreading your bankroll across multiple sites. The million dollar question everyone asks, which site has the weakest players ?
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