4 min read

Table Selection and Waiting Lists at PokerStars, +4BI Day

Pokerstars gave me a 4 buy-ins birthday gift yesterday, which in fact didn’t surprise me at all! Is it just a coincidence that I was born on the fourth day of the week (beginning with Sunday, Wednesday is the 4th day), on the fourth day of the fourth month at 4:00 and on my 33rd birthday I made 4 buy-ins? Let’s sum it up, Wednesday, 4/4, 4AM and I won 4 buy-ins. Is it just me or is there something going on with the number “4” in my life? I just hope I’d be playing high stakes when I celebrate my 44th birthday and Pokerstars let me run at 44bb/100 on that day!

I have talked about Poker hands in the past few posts but this time, table selection is what troubled me the most yesterday. I was playing for 90 minutes when Pokerstars announced a server restart. Those restarts allegedly last only 15 minutes and you are not obliged to leave your seat according to the usual announcement. Of course none of this happens, since restarts take about 40 to 50 minutes on average by the time the poker lobby is fully operational, and while you wait, a network status bar let you know that the server is down and eventually inform you that you cannot connect to Pokerstars. Then the application quits automatically. Been there, done that before so I logged back in after an hour or so, just as poker tables were getting filled by people eager to resume playing.

Due to the server restart, no table stat is available. You just sit at a table, wondering what the average PLRS/Flop% will be. That table statistic is the most important one as an indication of how loose a poker table is. Your winrate goes up as long as you play tight against fish and very loose players. That strategy is the easiest and most common one when you start playing poker. As the tables’ list built up, I noticed that I had sat at one of the best available tables at that time with plenty of fish around me! 3 villains were playing more than 35% of their hands (VPIP%)!

After 10 minutes of play the table’s waiting list included 22 players, who wished he had sat down right from the beginning! Eventually the bad players lost their money or left the table and they were replaced by regulars. A couple of minutes later I also left the table, since there wasn’t such a big advantage any more against the opposition. That got me thinking about waiting lists and table selection at Pokerstars.

When I register myself in a table’s waiting list, I choose tables that have a relatively high PLRS/Flop percentage. However, I find myself placed at the bottom of a long waiting list. By the time a seat becomes available for me, the table is no longer a gold mine. 5 regulars who had found a seat through the waiting list, are now confronting each other on a table that SOME TIME in the past used to be a very loose table. If I sit down, I need to find those minor edges to exploit in order to make money and not get killed by rake. So, how do we table-select using the Pokerstars lobby more effectively?

I’m not talking about rocket science here, it’s just simple observations I made while playing yesterday. I have highlighted green the tables that I used to add myself to the waiting lists and will no longer do so. 4 or 5 other regular players have beat me to it, meaning that I will sit down against them by the time Pokerstars let me know a seat is reserved for me. I have also highlighted red the tables that I’m now more willing to sit down if I get called by the poker software. With just one player in the waiting list, I will likely sit down and play against the very same people that had that table’s PLRS/Flop% stat go that high. Finally I’m much more ready to take my chances and reserve a seat at the new table on the bottom (Medusa II), than joining a table full of regulars!

Table selection becomes very important as you move up the tables, although by the time you make it to the high stakes, there are really no options and you have to deal with very good players. Until then, I’ll try maximizing my winrate by better table selection and fixing my two big poker leaks, which I’ll discuss tomorrow! Can you point them out in the poker HUD of the image above – color codes will help you.