Finding the softest game by size

There are a lot of big egos in poker. If you listen in to some of the regulars in the higher no limit games you would th...

Posted Feb 21, 2013


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

There are a lot of big egos in poker. If you listen in to some of the regulars in the higher no limit games you would think that they were in junior high school with the amount of gossip that is exchanged back in forth. Who’s broke, who’s running hot, who owes money, etc. etc. For some players it is always their goal to play in the biggest game regardless of the actual quality of the game.

I remember back in 2008 the Commerce Casino opened $5-$10 no limit with a $1500 cap buy-in. They set the game down with the rest of the yellow ($5) chips games on the other side of the casino. The “high stakes games,” including $10-$20 no limit, were on the hotel side. This actual geographic difference in game location made certain people never play at $5-$10 because they did not want to be seen playing “low stakes” even though when that game first opened it was by far the best in the whole house. Most $10-$20 regulars passed on these games because it would have been a big blow to their ego. Instead, they would sit in some pretty bad $10-$20 tables and I had the fortune of lapping up some really easy money at $5-$10.

This same type of thing happens at other casinos around the country. Let us say your local casino runs a $2-$5 as the normal highest game and sometimes will get $5-10 off of the ground if the right people are there at the same time. You are sitting in a pretty juicy $2-$5 game, one of four tables running. There are several people on the board for larger games, it is Saturday and the casino decides to open a brand new $5-10 table. You then see most of the best players from the $2-$5 including two of the strongest players from your game move over to $5-10 and now there are literally no good players left at $2-$5. The $5-$10 game is looking pretty so-so. Should you make the jump over to the bigger game just because you are comfortable playing at those sakes and you are properly rolled? The answer is a resounding no.

Poker is a about maximizing profit not increasing your ego. But for so many of us, even professionals, we have a tough time grasping this concept. Usually, when a bigger game opens, this attracts some of the stronger regulars from the smaller levels making a tougher game. Obviously this is not always the case and you should try and play in the best game that is available. But when a flood of good players leave your game the smaller game is going to become much softer. Who cares what other people think anyway? You are going to be raking in more money at a good game one step down from a bad game one step up.

I also think that this is especially true over the summer during the WSOP when all of the good players from around the country flock to Las Vegas. If you only play NL cash games and are not interested in playing in tournaments I think that this is a great time to stay local as the games will definitely be softer.

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