When is it most profitable to play poker?

December 05, 2017, Brent Philbin  

The holidays are upon us and it’s always Christmas at the poker table. Our adversaries hand us gifts, red- and green-colored chips, all day and night, with visions of plum-colored chips dancing in our heads.

Of course, not all poker tables are equal and it’s important to touch on the best (and worst) ways to make sure you receive the most gifts during your poker-playing experience.

PLAY: New poker rooms are the biggest opportunity you can find, especially if they’re the first in the area.

Whenever poker becomes new to an area, the games are packed with amateurs and the players that have been beating those amateurs in home games. None of these players holds a candle to a pro and it makes for an amazing mix of games.

The craziness diminishes as the room gets older, but consider moving to the area for a six-month period if your bankroll al.lows it.

AVOID: A huge tournament series can provide a great venue for a lot of novice players to take a shot a winning a title for a small entry fee, but it makes small-stakes cash games worse. This doesn’t apply to the big games, which might only run during these events, but the small buy-in level suffers.

There are many players who descend upon a casino that are extremely competent and you end up with a much larger percentage of overall winning players per table this way.

PLAY: The best time to be at the poker table is the prime time for everyone else to be partying. This is a sacrifice you need to make to continue to play as a pro.

At certain casinos, missing a Friday or Saturday night after a Chris Rock show might mean giving up on double your normal hourly rate. It’s irresponsible to be away from the tables when recreational players are most likely to be there and probably drunk.

AVOID: The nicest, prettiest, room in an area will have the tightest cash games.

This is because the smarter players think like you when they make a decision as to which room to play. Games are pretty bad in Vegas in general, but the finer properties always have been extreme.

PLAY: When you’re comfortable, make sure you play. All of the rest of this advice doesn’t matter if you aren’t comfortable playing in a room.

Play in a place where you like being, at a time you like play.ing and at whatever stakes you know you can beat.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at Brent.Philbin@gmail.com.