Picking the right tables to play at is very important in today’s games. And yes, even at stakes as low as NL2. I don’t want to scare people off from online poker and portray it as some impossibly tough game. Because it isn’t. Not by a long shot. But the games have gotten noticeably more difficult in recent years.
There is still a lot of money to be made in online poker however and it should be noted that rakeback programs have generally improved across all sites to help compensate for the decreased game quality.
But much of this change in the games can still be overcome by simply selecting good tables to play at. And especially if you play at Pokerstars, which has such a massive selection of games, there really is absolutely no reason not to table select. Which tables are the right ones to play at? Nothing surprising here, the ones with fish!
There are a couple of ways to go about table selection. The first one is to tag or color code the fish. This refers to the feature built into the software of most online poker rooms which allows you to mark a player. On Pokerstars you can go,
in order to give yourself the ability to one-click tag the fish. You just left click on their circle and choose from the drop down menu.
Since most people are tight these days I now prefer to just tag the exception to the rule, the fish. As mentioned above, the fish are very easy to spot because they will have a high VPIP and a low PFR. As a rule though, I wouldn’t even bother looking at the PFR. Just tag anyone who has a VPIP of 35% or more in full ring as a fish.
If you continually tag the fish this will help a lot with your table selection over time. For instance if I were to open up the following table,
I would already know, before even being dealt a single hand, that there are fish in the one and four seats. Obviously I use blue for fish but you can use whichever color you want. The color shows up by their name in the lobby as well which also helps with table selection.
I suggest trying to tag the fish a little bit throughout each session but don’t let it interfere with your poker decisions. Instead it is better to do a thorough tagging campaign as you are finishing up your session and closing down your tables. At this point you will also have the maximum sample size on all of your opponents and can therefore be most certain about player types. There are other methods such as using HEM’s autorate feature but I don’t use it much myself.
If you are multi-tabling however things can get pretty hectic and you might not have the time to be doing all this manual color coding. Luckily there is an easier way.
HEM gives you the ability to display the average VPIP right on the table just like all the other stats. This feature can be turned on and off by going,
Make sure “Show table avgs” is checked as shown above and the average VPIP should show up somewhere near the top center of your tables.
For the most part, if a full ring table has a VPIP under about 15%, then it is likely full of regs. While it is possible that the table average is simply being brought down by a bunch of huge nits, usually this will not be the case. More often the table won’t have any fish on it and you should leave. Fish, with their high VPIP, bring up the table average and therefore it is usually very easy to tell which tables are good ones, and which are bad ones.
However, it may be difficult to keep track of each table’s average VPIP especially if you are playing a lot of tables at once. To solve this problem I recommend using HEM’s table manager window which can be found on your taskbar, often in the hidden processes while you are importing hands.
It will look something like the above. As you can see, you can sort your tables by the VPIP column. And then if you double click on a table, it will immediately bring it into focus. This allows you to quickly find the low VPIP tables and get rid of them.