STRATEGY

Table Selection and Win Rate Optimisation

Even professional poker players must know when they are beaten. In maximizing profit at the tables, table selection is essential; if you are playing only against better players, you will lose money. Having the highest win rate can often lead to you making the most money. In this article I will aim to help you improve your win rate and crush any game you play!

Why is table selection important?

In poker it is all too frequent that you see the battle of egos being the demise of a player. It is imperative that when choosing what tables to play you are able to objectively decide whether or not you are profitable in the line-up. Having the highest win rate is not always as a result of being the best player. Often it can be as a result of playing the juiciest games with the most suckers at the table! If you are correctly table selecting, you will be playing in the best games you can at any time when you’re at the table. In doing this, regardless of your current skill level, you will be making the most money that you feasibly can.

How to efficiently table select

There will of course be differences in table selection depending upon the environment you play. Online table selection varies greatly to live and there may even be restrictions in place which limit your ability to actively table select. For example, in live poker you may only be able to move tables a certain number of times per hour. Additionally, in online games it is often the case that you may only play a maximum number of tables at once. Below are what I feel are the most important table selection skills you can effectively employ at the tables.

  • Scanning. It is imperative that when at the table you are constantly scanning other tables to ensure you have the best chance at winning the most money. There is no point in sitting at table A if table B has a larger number of weak players. This may involve going on waiting lists to join the best table when a seat is available.
  • Seating. The seat that you have at any one table will influence your profitability. If there is only 1 weak player at the table and you are far across the table from him, there is a large number of strong players who are able to act before you. This will mean that the other players can play more pots with the weak player and hence make more money.
  • Prioritisation (Online). What I mean by prioritisation in this instance is that you should have a maximum number of tables you play at any one time. Through constant scanning there will be opportunities to join new tables. When new tables can be joined, it is important to know what table you should leave from your current selection to allow for the new and improved seat.

When playing online it is possible to outsource some of these table selection skills to software programs that will do it for you. One such example is TableScan Turbo which will join waitlists for you and seat you at tables with weaker opponents.

Is table selection essential?

Although strongly advised, table selection is not essential in being a winning player. It is possible that you are good enough to play at any table and be a winner! However, it would be naïve not to adopt table selection strategy in order to maximize profitability. Other profit maximizing decisions can include both on and off table factors. If you have not already, I would suggest reading my previous article on volume, quality and poker goals which covers some of these.

Win Rate Optimisation

Although table selection will undoubtedly increase your win rate, it is not the only factor that can make you a more profitable player. Most techniques are subjective in their ability to increase win rate and will work better for some players than others. It is important to explore which work best for you as a player and then once you have a winning formula – stick to it! Below are a few I believe to be the most effective:

  • Standardised session length. Playing for the same amount of time helps to get into a routine and prevent tilt. This benefits both life outside of poker and also avoid chasing losses.
  • Stop losses. Tilt results in a sub optimal playing style and can easily be induced by running bad. By implementing a stop loss it reduces the effect tilt can have on your overall win rate and minimize losses.
  • Taking sufficient time. As simple as this sounds it is all too easy to make snap decisions at the table. Taking longer over decisions results in fewer mistakes and a higher win rate.

Table Selection and Win Rate Optimisation Conclusion

Having table selection skills in your arsenal can only improve your win rate. Being the most profitable player you can be given resources is the most common goal when playing poker. If you adhere to my advice it can only aid you in maximising profit and optimizing win rate. Table selection is not the end-all and be-all of poker so it is essential you explore all avenues in improving your game both on and off the table. Good luck in all your poker endeavors!


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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