A good poker player has a whole arsenal of moves he can use during a poker game to try and improve the outcome of the game. This is one of the things that keeps variation and excitement in the game. Making good moves is definitely important, but it isn't the moves that are going to decide how much money you're going to make at a table. It's the tables that you chose to sit at that make up your winrate for a certain session. Therefore, table selection is exactly as important as making good moves. One of the first decisions you will have to make when deciding to play poker, is which table to sit at.
While selecting a table to play at, it is important for you to think about what sort of player you are, in order to pick a table that fits your playing style. For example, if you're a very tight player, you are looking for a table that plays very loose, because your preflop raises with monster hands will be called more often. If, on the other hand, your are a loose player who likes to raise more than the average player, you should look for a very tight table, so players will often fold to your preflop aggression, you can pick up some easy pots, and it will be easy to put one of your opponents on a monster hand.
But how do you know whether a table is weak or tight? Fortunately, you can find out pretty easily nowadays, as many poker rooms offer many statistics about the table. What you need to focus on is the percentage of players seeing a flop (% preflop seen), the average pot size and the number of hands being played per hour.
I myself am most experienced at 6-handed no limit tables, and will give you an example of what I think to be a good table and what tables I think you should try and avoid.
First of all, I see myself as a relatively tight, but aggressive player, and want tables where I can bet big with AA, KK, QQ, AK etc. and can still expect to get 1 or 2 callers (once I then win 2 pots with monster hands, I can start playing a bit more loose and extend my range since you have managed to gain some respect after a couple of nice showdowns). From experience I know that 6-handed tables with a flop percentage of around 55-65% are ideal for me, but these are hard to find at the higher limits. Tables with a flop percentage of 35-40% are tables I try to avoid, as you will have to deal with tight opponents, which doesn't really pay off using my playing style.
Then there's the average pot size. In no limit it is not always an advantage to pick the table with the largest pots. This is because big pots are often combined with big stacks, and in no limit you should always try to sit at a table with an equal (if not bigger) stack compared to your opponents at the table., but this is not always possible as no limit tables have a maximum buy-in. In limit games I would also suggest to sit down at a table with a little more than what most poker sites recommend, as your opponents might respect you more if you sit down with a larger stack.
So, take a look at the average pot sizes at a few tables, but make sure these tables are within the same limits and have the same number of players seated at the table. My favourite tables are those with a flop percentage of around 50% and every player has a stack close to the maximum buy-in of the table. If for example the max buy-in for a table is $100, I'll be looking for tables where players have stacks between $80 and $120. This way I can put the pressure on pretty much every player if I end up going all in with $100.
Then there's the average number of hands that get played per hour. I always thought it was good to sit down at a table where a lot of hands get played per hour. Sound logical right? The more hands you play per hour, the faster you will see results in the long run. This might be true, but if you spend some more time thinking about it, the disadvantages of playing many hands will become apparent. The number of hands per hour is so high because players are making very fast decisions. This is usually an indication of good players who know what's going on. Therefore, the number of hands played per hour can also be an indication for the skill level at the table. You could have a table with a flop percentage of 60% (6-handed), where 150 hands get played every hour. However, rather than this being a table full of maniacs, you are more likely to be dealing with players who know what they're doing and will often outplay you after the flop.
Finally, there is nothing more valuable than a good observation of the players themselves. If you play on a site offering the option of a buddy list, don't only use this list to add friends, but also the weak players you come across. This way you can always see where the weak players are seated and comfortably take a seat next to them. I mean, at the end of the day you are not going to make money from players who are better than you, but from those who are weaker than you (and make more mistakes in the long run). A table with a couple of good players and a couple of bad players is ideal. Stay away from the better players and try to win as much as you can from the weaker ones, which will result in more respect from the better players, and after a while you will start taking their money as well (although this should not be your priority).
As you can see, there's quite a lot of things to focus on when selecting a table. For a start you need to know yourself very well and know what sort of a player you are. Then you need to think about the kind of table that fits your playing style. Once you know what kind of table (and opponents) you want, take a while to check out all the statistics that your poker room offers you. Try to figure out the average flop percentage, the average pot size and how many hands get dealt per hour, in order to make an even better decision. Don't forget to look out for those weak players, seeing as you make most of your money from them.
Once again it's been a pleasure to inform you guys, and I hope to maybe see you at my table some time. And don't forget to enjoy this wonderful game..