Poker Table Types

You have learnt about the main poker variants, betting limits and Hi/Lo variants. This is still not enough. Picking the right poker table type is as important and differences between some types are significant.

Game type

The first thing you should look at when choosing the right table to play at is the game type. There are two main types here:

 Cash (Ring) games – at such tables you play with real money, i.e. your chip stack has a real monetary value. If you win a $200 pot, you can instantly close the table, request a cashout, and spend this money in any way you wish. Stakes on cash tables are static - they do not increase with time. Whenever you lose your whole stack, you can instantly rebuy and continue to play.
 Tournaments – in tournaments, you play with chips that have no monetary value. If you win a $200 pot, you cannot leave the table and cash it out. Chips here serve only as a score. If you lose all your chips, you are kicked out of the tournament unless it allows rebuys in early stages. Stakes increase with time to speed up players elimination. Out of the total sum of tournament buy-in's, a prize pool is formed and distributed between a small number of players that finish at best places.

There are a lot of tournament types, including:

 Multi-table tournaments (MTT) – these tournaments have scheduled start times, lots of players, and big prizes for the winners. They can be very lengthy, taking several hours to complete.
 Frerolls – this is actually a special type of MTT. Everything is identical to regular multi-table tournaments except there is no entry fee. You can register completely free and compete for a real money prize pool.
 Sit-and-Go’s – such tournaments begin as soon as the last required player registers. For example, a 10-player Sit-and-Go will start immediately after the 10th player joins the table. They finish much faster than MTT’s and are very popular.

Number of players

The next thing you should consider is the maximum number of players allowed to sit at the table. You can find three possibilities:

 Full ring – these tables allow up to 10 (sometimes 9) players. They offer the least action out of all table types. Because you post blinds every tenth hand, there is no need to play “any two” cards. You can wait for premium starting hands and still end up with a nice profit.
 Shorthanded – here up to 6 (sometimes 5, very rarely 4) players are allowed. Shorthanded games tend to be much more aggressive as you have to post blinds much more often than in full ring. No longer can you wait for premium starting hands. Your range needs to be wider if you want to become a winning player. Shorthanded poker is currently the most popular on the Internet.
 Heads up – no more than two players are allowed. This is the most aggressive and demanding table type. You post blind every hand (small blind at one time, big blind at the other). To survive at heads up tables, you have to learn to play hands you would call a complete garbage at full ring or shorthanded tables. Otherwise, you will just get “blinded” to death.

Special tables

Most tables, no matter if they are full ring, shorthanded, or heads up, are ordinary. It means you have quite a lot of time for each decision (around 30 seconds), you can buy in for a maximum of 100 big blinds (applies to No-Limit and Pot-Limit variants), and all you can win is your opponent’s stack (or tournament prize), nothing else. From time to time you, though, you will be able to find tables with a bit different rules. Here are few examples:

 Fast (or Turbo) – at these tables you have less time for your decision. It can be 20 seconds or even less. Choose them only if you are a quick thinker. There are also Turbo Sit-and-Go's, where blind levels increase at much faster rate than usual.
 Deep – can be found only in No-Limit and Pot-Limit games. Such tables allow buying in for more than 100 big blinds. The maximum is usually 200 big blinds. For example, you will be able to buy in for $400 at a $1/$2 table, instead of the standard $200. In deep poker games, most crucial decisions are made postflop and they involve more psychology than usual.
 Jackpot – you can win in two ways at such tables. In addition to winning your opponent’s stack, you can also win a share of a special prize pool, called jackpot, after meeting the requirements.
There are bad beat jackpots, where players are awarded, when, for example somebody loses with four of a kind or a higher hand. There are also jackpots that award players for hitting very rare hands, for example royal flush but only of one suit. Such situations occur very rarely and allow jackpots to grow huge in the meantime.
There is a cost, however. Every hand you will have to pay an additional amount of chips that go into the jackpot instead of the pot. Moreover, a part of the jackpot is retained by the poker room so unless the jackpot is really huge or players are very soft, you should avoid this type of tables.

If you are new to poker, we strongly recommend to start with ordinary full ring tables. You will be able to play only the best starting hands there and your decisions will be relatively easy. By starting with any other table type, you risk losing your entire bankroll in no time.

More articles on poker rules:

 Poker rules
 Poker hand ranking
 Poker variants
 Texas Holdem rules
 Omaha rules
 7 Card Stud rules
 Betting limits
 High-low variants

Go back to the Online Poker Strategy.