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Things To Consider Before Joining a Table
Pick a table that you can afford. Remember that you’ll be posting blinds in at least 20% of the hands if the table is a 10-seater, and more often if the table seats less. If your bankroll is $50, you wouldn’t really want to play at a $5-$10 table.
Limit vs No-Limit Tables
Getting sucked into a drawing hand can be devastating to your bankroll at a no-limit table. If you’re drawing to the nut flush holding the Ace and another suited card, against someone on a set, you can end up calling some expensive bets only to miss the flush on the river. You may even end up having to go all-in - and bankrupt. At a fixed limit table you’re protected against this.
Before you sit down, take some time to watch the action, and learn about the players. Try and spot the really loose players, the maniacs, the tight aggressive ones. Knowing whom you’re up against can prove invaluable in a showdown.
Pick your seat
Once you’ve got an idea of the players at the table, try and get a favorable seat relative to the different types. You’ll want the unpredictable, wildly aggressive players on your right, so that you can get out of a marginal hand before it becomes too expensive. Timid and passive players are great to have on your left, as the former will fold when you bet aggressively as a bluff, and the latter will call anything, but will seldom raise.
Have time on your side
Don’t rush in for a quick half-hour session. You won’t have the time to study the players before joining the table, and, if you play a tight game, you’ll probably end up posting a few blinds, maybe having a look at a few flops, and possibly winning a hand. More often than not all you’ll be doing is adding to the pot for others to win. Budget on at least an hour.
Be positive – but be prepared to lose
There’s an old poker truism: “you can’t play with scared money”. Before you go join a table accept that you may lose the money you take with you. If you can’t accept that, you’ll end up playing a more timid game than you should, and if your opponents pick up on this, they’ll regularly drive you out of pots you could win by intimidating you with their stacks. You need to play sensibly, but in order to win, you must not be afraid to lose.
Disciplined state of mind
Your greatest ally at the poker table is discipline. Conversely, ill discipline will separate you from your money faster than anything else. If you’ve taken the trouble to learn about starting hand standards, you’ll know that you’ll be folding the majority of hands you are dealt. Nothing is more frustrating than throwing away a poor starting hand only for the flop to bring a pot-winning set, had you held on. What you have to remember is that this will happen less often than not – statistically you will lose money by holding on to poor starting hands in the hope of catching the flop. You need discipline to stick to your game plan, so prepare yourself for this before you join the table.