An aspect of playing poker online that should not be overlooked, is choosing which table to sit down at when you are playing a cash ring game. Most novice players will just find a table with an open spot at the denomination they want to play at, sit down, post the big blind and commence playing. However, there is a lot of information that can be gleaned before hand if you know what to look for.
First, do you wan to play a 6 handed game or a 9- handed game? You might think that there is no difference, but on the contrary, there is a big difference between the two. In a 6-hand game, you are going to be able to play a much wider range of cards simply because there are less players at the table and less of a chance of someone hitting a big hand. At a 9-player table, you need to be a bit more careful, especially with someone entering the pot from early position because it is more likely he has a strong hand.
Second, there is important information being posted in statistics that you should look at carefuly when choosing a table. On Full Tilt, for example, you can see the percentage of players who are seeing the Flop and the average pot size. This is very important information to have as it tells you whether or not you are about to sit down at a loose table or a tight table. Which one you want to play at is up to you, but this is info that cannot be overlooked.
If a high percentage of players are seeing the flop, it is a loose table. This usually means most of the players are limping in to see if they hit anything. It also probably means that no one is making big pre-flop raises to push them out of the pot. I would say that if you are seeing percentages over 40% or so, it is a fairly loose table. Play accordingly. I like loose table because I will be more inclined to simplify my play by playing only premium cards, and when I do play them, I play them strongly making large raises to punish the guys limping in with 9-2 suited, etc.
Conversely, if you see a table where not a lot of players are seeing the flop, you are at a tight table. You may look for more steal opportunities at a table like this than you otherwise would.
The pot size kind of supports both of the two previous ideas, in that small pots indicate players limping in and getting out if they do not hit the flop, and large pots indicate players going to war over each pot. Usually this is at a tight table where you get two players playing strong hands one-on-one.
In any case, all this information is free and there for the taking, so utilize it. Remember, poker is a game of incomplete information, so the more you have before you put your money into the pot, the better off you will be.
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