Live poker cash game selection

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Cory | Poker Articles, Poker Cash Games

Submitted by Cory, this article belongs to the Poker Cash Games series.

Playing online poker makes certain things much easier than live poker.  Anything from hand history data bases to game selection.  To find good games on the internet, I just need to open my Full Tilt client and look at the tables for whatever stake I want to play, find the best average pot size with too many players going to the flop and get myself on the waiting list for that table.  Live it’s just not that easy.  Here are some things to help you improve your live cash game selection.

First, find a live cash game that’s comfortable for your bankroll with a reasonable blind and rake structure.  If you’re playing low stakes, $1-$2 for example, this might be difficult to do, but it may be the single most important consideration.

About forty-five minutes from my house is a card room that spreads a $2-$2 game with a $100 max and drops $5 per hand.  So in this game, the small blind is equal to the big blind, costing me an extra dollar per orbit, $5 is coming out of every pot I win, plus a tip for the dealer, so it costs me $6 to win a pot and I’m only allowed to buy fifty big blinds at a time.  Also, the $4 from the blinds is dropped every hand, regardless of whether or not we see a flop.

About half an hour in the other direction from my house is a card room that spreads a $1-$2 game with a $200 max buy-in where $4 per hand is raked, but with a, “no flop no drop,” rule.  In this game, the small blind is indeed smaller than the big blind, I’m paying $1 less in rake for every pot I win and the house isn’t taking a cut of hands that don’t see a flop.  Which game do you suppose I can make more money in?

If I’m using good live cash game selection I’m obviously going to play in the second game, even if I enjoy the first poker room more.  Poker is about making money and making money is my business as a poker player, I need to play in the game that will give me the highest return on my investment.

Once I’m in the casino I sign up on the list for my $1-$2 no limit hold ‘em game, then I go scout the tables.  Just have a quick look around and see how many big stacks each $1-$2 game has, how many are taking a flop, are most players aggressive or passive etc.  If by chance, the first seat opens up at the only table with six tight, short stacked players and two tough players, I will sit down, buy in, play tight and immediately ask for a table change.  Asking for a table change is totally OK and not rude to the floor staff, or the players at the table you are wishing to leave.

If I get seated at a pretty good table, but I’ve watched the $1-$2 game on table four and it’s way more fishy, I’ll ask the floor to give me a table change as soon as a seat opens on table four.

Game selecting might be a bit more difficult live than on line, but it is still one of the most important factors that go in to a winning session or a losing session.  Stop just accepting the first seat that opens up, unless it’s the seat you’ve already determined to be on your dream table.

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2 Comments to Live poker cash game selection

May 6, 2010

Great article Cory!

In your opinion, what are the most important signs that a live cash game is fishy?


.-= Mark´s last blog ..Live cash game selection =-.

May 6, 2010

Here’s the answer from Cory:

“I’m really liking a cash game where players have bought in for the max or near the max. Then I like to see stacks go in with top pair weak kicker vs a bluffing busted flush draw. Or I like to see players calling too much pre-flop then releasing their hands every time they miss. This makes the game very predictable. I love to see games where someone is tilted or when players are just playing too loose in general. The whole table doesn’t have to be fishy in order to make it a good game. If you’re playing 1-2 you’re normally going to have 4 to 6 spots at the table, but if you only have 3 spots and 6 tougher players, you can still make money, but I want at least 4 good spots. Just people who lack a fundamental understanding of how to play, they give too much loose action calling 2/3 pot with a gut shot etc.”

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