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Choosing The Internet Poker

Choosing a game

The procedure for choosing a game is invariably the same no matter what Internet poker site you've chosen: In the lobby - generally the first screen you see when you reach the site - you'll find tabulated lists of games and limits offered.

First find the tab or row for the games of your choice - be it hold'em, stud, Omaha or something else - and click on it. Then scan the resulting list for the limits, betting structure, and games size you have in mind. When you've found a game you like, left-click once to highlight it.

In most cases you can just eyeball the list and make a selection, because games are often grouped by betting limits. If so, the games with the higher betting limits are generally at the top. Pot-limit and no-limit games, if any, will be grouped together in a convenient place, and play-money games will either be at the very bottom of the list beneath the lowest limit cash games or under a separate tab altogether. Often it's possible to "hide" the play-money games list - or make it reappear - by clicking "Options" on the main lobby screen and choosing "Hide play-money games" or "Show play-money games," from the pull-down command list.

At some sites, if you don't like the way games are grouped, you can rearrange them by clicking on the top of a column. If, for example, games are arranged alphabetically by table name, with low limit games mixed in seeming haphazard fashion amongst larger games, experiment until you know how to arrange them more conveniently, or write to customer support and ask what the procedure is.

Tournaments are usually a separate category under their own tab, where they're organized according to games type and buy-in amount, with special events, such as satellites for major tournaments or free rolls, grouped separately. When you've found one you like, double-clicking it will bring up either a registration screen (if the tournament is imminent) or information about when and how to register. For some major online tournaments, there are ongoing satellites during preceding weeks in which you can earn your way up the ladder to buy-ins for the main events.

Every site is different in its tournament policy, but only the largest sites have major tournaments, so if you're interested in competing for big money, stick to the largest and best-known sites.

Make use of all lobby information to choose the best games! Most sites supply helpful statistics adjacent to each games listing, so do pause and see what's offered:

You can usually see at a glance:

- The average percentage of seated players seeing the flop (or Fourth Street)
- The number of seated players
- The average pot size
- How many players are waiting for the games

Also, at some online card rooms, selecting a particular games and table yields more detailed information in a small box that appears on one side of the lobby. This information may include screen names of those playing, and how much money each player has in the games.

These details and statistics will tell you a lot about the games before you even see it. (Compare this advantage with the situation in brick and mortar establishments, where you often know little about the games until you actually take your seat!)
Remember: Poker is a game of incomplete information, and the more information you have about a game and its players, the better decisions you can make. Online, scout things out!
Besides the games stats, there may be a player list. If so, only screen names will be listed - no real names. If you're lucky there may be a Smidgen of accompanying information like the city or country given on the registration form as the player's place of residence. Some people - to avoid giving away any free info about themselves - manage to slip by with a locale like "Planet Earth" or "Mars" or "Erewhon," but that tells you something, too, doesn't it?

Make use of all that lobby list information to find the best games you can! If you like to play shorthanded, for example, it's not only easier online to find three or four-handed start-up games, but to jump in and out of them faster than a Mexican jumping bean, happily navigating from games screen to games screen while (hopefully) racking up profits.

Unlike in brick and mortar casinos, you'll never annoy the staff if you hopscotch between tables and games. Online, away from all those pedestrian physical reality matters requiring salaried casino staff - like dealer rotation, seating of new players, and breaking down inactive games - nobody cares whether you play one hand per session or ten thousand nor does anyone care if you change tables a dozen or more times per hour.

For all the other players know, you may have just left for work, had something urgent come up at home or in the office, lost your Internet connection, or just dropped dead. To them, you're just an anonymous blip with a screen name.

But Internet anonymity is a double-edged sword. Online, you can't stereotype opponents by age, dress, gender, games familiarity, or apparent experience with chip riffling or other manual poker skills. Therefore, take advantage of all info given on the lobby or games screen player list (such as city or country of residence) to surmise whatever you can. Just remember to take such possibly deceptive nuggets with a grain of salt and stand ready to revise your conclusions later.

In some cases knowing as little as a player's place of residence may be valuable. It's a known fact, for example, that Europeans are far more accustomed to pot-limit play than Americans, so unless you're highly skilled at this betting structure, you'll want to avoid a pot-limit game comprised mostly of players from the other side of the pond.

Another thing you should look for is folks playing in more than one game at a time. Even if they play well, they may be more easily distracted or bluffed. On the downside they may play more slowly: games with several multitasking players are likely to be slower than others. But if you stick to one games and remain attentive, you have an advantage over anyone whose attention is split - just one more factor to consider when choosing a game.
Last but not least, you'll be able to see if players are waiting for the games. If so, double-clicking on the table name brings up a pop-up screen on which you can join the waiting list. A lengthy waiting list may indicate an especially good games with many "live ones" - newbie's; folks on tilt; maniacs gambling it up; tired, intoxicated or undisciplined players; or players who just play poorly.

If there are many more players on the waiting list for one table than for others of the same games and limits, you're on the right track. Join the list immediately and then observe the games - you can always play in another game while waiting. After you've verified your assumption that the games is relatively easy to beat, you can remain on the list until you're called to the table. On the other hand, if you don't like the looks of the games after observing for a while, you can just remove your name from the waiting list.
While observing, take notes! Jot down - using either the site's note-taking feature, if offered or your own note Site - of any poor or unusual play you observe. Determine likely "calling stations," check-raisers, outrageous bluffers, and tight players. Also list the screen name and table stake of each player. Note: Even if a site's software provides for note taking - allowing you to store typed notes for that session and even save them to your hard drive - the note-taking function may not work until you're actually seated at the table. If so, use a note Site and transfer your pre-games observations to the games screen apparatus later.

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