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A Guide to Game Selection

Shane C

Jun 14, 2023

A Guide to Game Selection

There is an array of poker variants and poker formats to play online today, which could potentially create a dilemma for the average poker player.  

A lot of time is spent by poker enthusiasts researching strategy.  This may involve; reading books, listening to e-books and podcasts, reading poker forums, watching TV poker/streams, signing up to a training site, or getting professional poker coaching/tuition.  But often game selection is overlooked as players are too keen to dive into the action.  

We have spoken with online poker game experts; PokCas, and they have written for us on why game selection is so important these days.

What Is Game Selection?

Game selection is simply the collection of various choices a player has when deciding to play poker. This article will discuss the importance of game selection and its impact on ROI.  We will now discuss these choices.

Game Format

Each game format will have its own options that you can drill down on.  Most commonly you can choose to play in either; cash games, tournaments, or other faster, more recreational formats.

With tournament poker, for example, you also have the option to play freezeouts, re-buy, or satellites.  Knowing where your skills lie, and which format you enjoy playing within each of these formats can help you decide on which particular games to select and have a positive result in your ROI.  For example, there are books dedicated to tournament poker satellites, and these specific games are some in which you may wish to specialise.

Alternatively with cash game poker, if you are weaker in heads-up or short-handed play, then it would be prudent to wait until the table fills up.  Whilst it is still a cash game, it is a completely different format of game playing heads-up as opposed to a full ring game and comes with its own nuances. 

Liquidity

When assessing which poker site, you want to play on, you may have to look at the size of the player pool and liquidity.  Natural8 for example has one of the largest online player pools in the world.  Don’t just play on a particular site out of routine.  

Stakes

Then you have the choice of stakes to play; which will be micro, low, medium, or high stakes.  Employing good bankroll management is crucial and selecting the stakes that are suitable to you is imperative so your bankroll doesn’t go bust!  Researching and employing good bankroll management may mean that your game selection moves down in stakes.

Number Of Tables

While you’re playing poker, you can elect to play on a single table, alternatively, you can multi-table (playing 2 tables or more). This is something that comes with experience, some players may only be comfortable with playing 1 or 2 tables, meanwhile, others may be comfortable with playing 6, 8, or 12 tables.  In theory, the more tables you play the more the quality of your poker deteriorates, like the law of diminishing returns, every player will have a threshold at which point their poker play produces negative results as a result of the number of tables open at one time.

Promotions

Poker players should research and equip themselves with full details of all the promotions running on their poker site, this may influence which game you select.  For example, Natural8 offers exclusive monthly leaderboards and may be a great choice to help improve your ROI.  Arming yourself with the knowledge of points requirements to achieve certain milestones can really have a positive effect on your ROI and having more fun in the process!

Similarly, Natural8 also has bubble protection for some of their online tournaments.  Basically, this means that if you register for a tournament prior to its start time you will be eligible for bubble protection.  This in effect means that if you just fall short of the money, you will get your buy-in back!  The larger the field, the more players are protected, and you can instantly relieve yourself from the fear of bubbling!

Tournament Overlays

In tournament poker, you can check the funds collected against the tournament guarantee, if you are actively checking for overlays in the tournament lobbies when selecting a tournament to enter, any overlay will have a +EV on your profitability.

Poker Session Length

The length of your sessions is also a key factor.  Know how long you want to play in a given session and select games that are suitable. While for some regular tournaments or structures, you can roughly predict how long they will take, Natural8 now gives an estimated duration of the running time of their tournaments! There is no point in playing a 12-hour-long poker tournament on a Sunday night when you only want to play for just 3! Knowing this and planning ahead will help you play at your optimal skill level.

Conclusion

As discussed, there are many aspects to consider when it comes to game selection and it is not as simple as: “Will I play cash or tournaments tonight?”. It is worthwhile experimenting and trying new formats, variants, sites, etc in order to find what suits you and your playing style.  Whilst the majority of us play poker recreationally, and in the hope to get a big score, you should still spend some time considering the various aspects of game selection as it could really help your ROI and help build your bankroll and move up stakes. 

Poker is there for you to have fun, and you can incorporate various aspects of game selection and still play the games you love.