Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Table Selection

You know, I'm an idiot.

I don't think I learn things traditionally. Or I don't understand what learning things traditionally really means. Because I don't just gather information. It always comes over me like a revalation. And I always, without fail, say "Damn, it's so fricking obvious!"

I always thought I practiced good table selection. I would observe tables before I sat, check out table statistics and only play in games I thought were good. What never occurred to me is that table selection also means, "LEAVE THE TABLE WHEN THE GAME GETS BAD." If you had asked me a week ago if table selection included leaving the table when you know it's not good anymore, I'd have had no idea what you are talking about. (Incidentally, I wish you had asked me that a long time ago, so I would have thought about it.)

When a table gets "Bad" it usually means some players have arrived that are either playing a style that I'm not comfortable with, or have figured out how I am playing and have a good strategy against my plays. For every type of play there is an optimum strategy to defeat that style. Instead of leaving, I'd try to adjust my game to beat them.

That's not table selection. That's EGO. I think I can beat anyone, no matter how good they are or how they are playing. I even feel ridiculous saying that, because it's obviously NOT true. If it were I'd be playing for a living. And even if I could, why should I? There are plenty of other games out there, why not just find more fishies?

Single Table Tournaments (SNGs) might be exacerbating the problem. You can't practice table selection at a SNG, you have to beat the players that are there. But there's usually not eight sharks at a SNG, especially the low leves that I play. So you beat the fishies to make the money, and by then the blinds have gotten so high that it becomes enough of a crapshoot that only the most inexperienced players will be put at a disadvantage. I may not be a great player, but I know how to even the odds at an all-in crapshoot.

So you get used to adjusting your game (shifting gears) late in a SNG to push for the big win, and you think you can make adjustments on the fly at a cash game the same way. You're used to playing at least half-decent players at the end of SNGs and you usually do pretty well against them, so you should be able to beat them in a ring game, right? WRONG. The blinds put a completely different kind of pressure on you in tournament games. There is no pressure in a cash game.

So here's the revalation part. Being good at Table selection really means OVERCOMING YOUR EGO. If the nature of the table changes, don't muscle up and try to beat the game. GET YOUR ASS UP AND FIND A BETTER GAME.

"Damn, it's so fricking obvious."


Shelly said...

I have that SAME problem. Good table selection, and the inability to leave when the game changes. I've literally heard myself say (to myself, hehe), "But I've got an HOUR invested in this table!!" HELLO - the table you're at now is NOT the table you were at an hour ago when you chose it for its ripe juiciness.

You're so right - just LEAVE!! So hard to do. Maybe after I try it once it won't be so hard...

Thanks for the food for thought!

Maudie said...

I love this post! It is so true - and demonstrates a trap we set for ourselves when we let ego play our cards rather than good senses. Bravo.

StudioGlyphic said...

Table wha...?

That's the problem I have waiting for the high average pot tables. By the time you get in off the list, it's a rock garden with maybe 1-2 fish and a maniac.