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They Leave Bad Games
Mike 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 to play?
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!
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