Poker Basics – Game Selection

The difference between starting your poker career off as a winner or as a loser is Game Selection. Choose the appropriate game for your bankroll and your skill level and you will be rewarded with a long and winning career in poker.


Make sure you have an adequate bankroll for the stakes of the game. Normal game fluctuations dictate that playing in a $3/$6 game with a $50 total bankroll will normally see you leaving the table broke and looking to deposit more money.

A good rule of thumb is to have a bankroll of about 20 times the big bet to consistently play at a particular limit (e.g. $20 to play at $.50/$1).

Evaluate The Game

Some games are tougher than others, even though the limits are the same.

It is important to find a game that has weaker players as opposed to a game that has stronger players. This is a very important ingredient to poker success that you will pick up as you continue to learn the game.

Take some time to observe a game before sitting down. If it looks like a game full of tough players, then you should consider looking for another game. Look, the last thing you want to hear in the back of your mind is Matt Damon from the movie Rounders saying, “If you can’t spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, then you ARE the sucker.”

Tight/Loose & Passive/Aggressive

There are two major ways to describe games and players: Tight/Loose and Passive/Aggressive. And if you think that these game styles might also describe your ex-girlfriend or wife, well, that is probably fine too.

Tight/Loose describes how many hands a player will play. If they play very few hands, then they are considered Tight. If they play a lot of hands, then they are considered Loose.

Passive/Aggressive describes how often players tend to bet their hands. Passive players do not bet very often and prefer to call or check. Aggressive players tend to heavily bet their hands and rarely call or check.

The easiest and most profitable games for the smart beginner are those that are Loose/Passive. These are games where players tend to play too many weak hands, and do not raise often enough when they have strong hands. These are games that beginning players should seek out.

The toughest games are those in which players play fewer hands and bet heavily when they do enter the pot. This is a Tight/Aggressive style of playing that all poker players should aspire to; conversely, these are exactly the types of players that you should be cautious of.