Caro told us long ago that happy games are good games.
If people are laughing and talking and joking and
having a jolly ol' time, they're not likely to be
bringing their best laser-like focus to the task at
hand. On the other hand, if the crew is dour, silent,
intent, and intense, you'll find no obvious inattentiveness
to exploit. Nor will you be able to work your image
to the point where people are calling you loosely,
and jovially giving you their chips. All other things
being equal, gravitate toward games that look like
a party, and stay away from the wakes.
As the game progresses, keep looking around the table,
and keep track of how many genuinely superior players
you face. You'll know they're superior if you find
that you're reacting to their moves, rather than forcing
decisions on them. If there are more than two such
crafty, powerful players in the game, seek greener
pastures. I know that some table selection theorists
argue that the presence in the game of known leakers
or losers can more than compensate for the competition
from other tough soldiers. I don't disagree with that,
except to note that in many cases there are other
games available that have abundant leakers and losers,
but no other contenders for the top dog spot you seek
to occupy. Scout around. A game isn't truly good unless
you're the best player in it.
What other cues or clues can you think of to warn
yourself that the game you're in is not the best place
Don't forget to look for these clues or cues within.
Look particularly for strands of denial that reveal
your true understanding. If you find yourself thinking,
"This game's not so bad," it's probably
not so good. Are you trying to justify inertia? Don't
be a victim of chair glue-move!