STRATEGY

Maximizing Live Poker Profit – Crushing it at the Casino Tables

To beat poker games, particularly live poker, there are many strategies that can be employed in order to maximize your profits. These can be with regard to how well you are playing cards as well as other considerations. In order to maximize profit in these games, it is simply not enough to be a good poker player. Within this article, I explain the do’s and dont’s of maximizing live poker profit from a professional’s perspective.

Picking the Right Games

The first, most basic decision to be made when playing live poker is simply where to play. For some readers, there will be no choice if only one casino exists locally, but for many, there are a plethora from which to choose. The first consideration will be with respect to the stakes they offer. Some casinos specialize in higher stakes poker offerings while others cater to the masses. The trouble comes when deciding which low stakes casino is most suitable since they will be the most common. Below, are considerations that should be acknowledged before stepping foot in any casino.

  • Location
  • Will the casino have enough traffic so the game will run as long as you’d like?
  • Is the casino likely to attract the most profitable players versus whom to battle?
  • If walking to/from the casino is it safe to be carrying large sums of cash at early hours of the morning?
  • Perks/Promotions
  • Does the casino have any promotions running that add value to your session? For example, rake free periods or loyalty points that can be accumulated.
  • Are there any differences in amenities provided by the casino, such as free food/drink?
  • Rake
  • Which casino has the lowest rake? This is a factor often overlooked, but in the long run can save you a significant sum of money.
  • Management
  • How efficient is the management? Are they capable of resolving problems experienced at the table in an objective fashion?

Choosing the Most Profitable Table

Ultimately, being at the right table is the number one consideration when it comes to maximizing live poker profit. Game selection is a skill that cannot easily be taught and comes down a combination of intuition and observation. When playing at a new casino, it is often difficult to quickly identify who the best and worst players are. Roughly, the number of hands dealt per hour per table is about one-third that of online play, further increasing the difficulty of such a task. Having insider information is extremely helpful when entering a new cardroom. A friend who is a regular can point out the biggest spots in the room and it should be your mission to play pots with them. This sounds predatory, but unfortunately, that is the nature of poker if your aim is to make the most money possible.

Not only does the table within the casino influence profitability, so does the seat at the table. Since profits are made from weak players, the seats that can play the most hands versus weak players are the most profitable. Thus, seats closest to the left of weak players are the most desirable. This is due to being in position most often as well as being able to isolate their raises and limps easiest. Although it can be frowned upon, moving seats to exploit this fact is a strategy I’d advise, so long as you do not take this to extremes.

Table Image

One of the most underrated factors when playing live poker is your perception at the table. It makes sense that the weakest players are often the splashiest and hence like to gamble. If your image is one of being a tight player who sits with headphones waiting for premium hands, this is not ideal. Not only will you receive less action with all your hands, people will dislike you being at the table which can cause the table to break in extreme cases. Below is an extensive list of Do’s and Dont’s when at the table!

Table Image: Do’s & Dont’s

Do:

  1. Interact with other players and try to appear sociable. Not only will this improve your image, it makes the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone.
  2. Join in with table games such as side bets and straddles. Although straddling is a -ev decision and will lose money, relative to the amount you will lose by being labelled a nit, it is negligible. Further, side bets are often neutral ev and can be a lot of fun and induce further action.
  3. Be polite to all casino staff, not only is this courteous it will improve your relationship with management. This could be beneficial when it comes to table rulings, table changes and general disputes.
  4. Be aware of how you are perceived at the table. If you have been particularly aggressive, how will this influence other’s decisions in hands?
  5. Try and play as many pots as you can with weak players. This is where the bulk of your winrate will come from so it makes sense to exploit this. Generally, you should look to raise their limps wider, cold call in position wider and 3-Bet them for thinner value preflop.
  6. Become friendly with other regular players. It is common to discuss strategy between regulars such as reads and when/where the best games run. This information is invaluable.

Don’t:

  1. Make others uncomfortable at the table by doing things like staring them down during hands excessively.
  2. Be anti-social
  3. Wait only for premium hands. Not only will this reduce your action, it is profitable to play wider ranges when there are weaker players in the hand.
  4. Be the only player at the table refusing to straddle.
  5. Excessively move tables and/or seats, even weak players are aware and this will only negatively affect your profits.

Maximizing Live Poker Profit – In Conclusion

In conclusion, although we play poker to make the most money possible ultimately it is also about enjoying yourself. This is both from our own perspective and that of others. In order to keep the game growing it is important to be conscious of this so that more recreational players enjoy themselves. In the quest to be the most profitable player possible we should look to capitalise on all points covered within this article. It is my belief that off-table strategy is key in being a profitable player and is often overlooked, even by professionals! Lastly, utilising the information within this article will help even the most seasoned of players, so digest all the information and good luck at the tables!


Patrick Sekinger is from the UK and is an avid poker enthusiast, currently playing both live and online as a professional poker player. Patrick plays all formats of NLHE, however specialises in 100bb cash games and you will find him regularly playing in the small stakes games on Pokerstars.


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