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Sports & Gaming

Game Selection

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 13:04 min

Learn how to identify your ideal table—one where you can realistically win, maximize your earnings, and have a good time.

Daniel Negreanu
Teaches Poker
Join Daniel at the poker table. Learn his strategies to advance your cash, tournament, and online play.
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So if you're a professional poker player, or you know one, you'll hear them talk about game selection. So what exactly does that mean really? Well, we'll dig deeper. Imagine you are the fifth best poker player in the world. Pretty awesome, right? Well, if you sit with the other four every single day, you are officially the sucker, right? You are the worst player in the game. So you become a losing player despite being the fifth best in the entire world. So if you are the fifth best in the world, and you're playing in that game, that's not very good game selection, considering that every other game in the house you do well in. So in order to be able to game select adequately, you first have to be self-aware enough to like, be honest with yourself and say like, where am I at? Am I really better than all these guys? Or you know, when I'm looking at a game where there's seven players, I'm like, OK, well, maybe those two guys are better than me. But I'm definitely better than these three. So then you're going to have to gauge, is it worth you playing in this game? So you're giving up an advantage to a couple of the players. But maybe there's enough players in that game that provide value for you where you could be in the middle of the road and still profit. Because, typically, if you're looking at a nine handed game, you know, a good make up for a game is you're going to have three four strong pros, maybe, some middle of the road, and hopefully have, you know, three weaker players that everyone sort of know profits from. So those players lose, you make a small profit, the best players make a good profit. Now, in terms of how to game select, again, you have to be really honest with yourself. And you always want to look for at least a couple of players that you think you're better than. There is an argument to be made about sometimes testing your skills against other really strong players as a learning tool. But understand it as not being-- it's more like study rather than it is like I'm going to work. So when you play poker for a living, you go to work when you go play poker. Sometimes, playing against other great players, that's actual study for your job, which you don't expect to make money, but maybe the small amount that you're losing to those guys can help you make more money against weaker players. Because every time you test yourself against the best, it brings out the best in you. So I've been a professional poker player for 20 odd years now. And you know, one of the things you do when you are professional, especially as your bankroll is building, is you go to the casino or you go over and you look around. You know what? I'm looking for different types of games. And I'm going to, you know, sometimes kind of like wait and see which game seems the most lively. Look who's in the games and choose accordingly. In the old days, you know, I'd be at Bellagio, and I would be, you know, in say, a 40 80 game. And I'd be peeping over a...

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Put yourself across the felt from Daniel Negreanu, the biggest live tournament poker winner of all time. The six-time World Series of Poker champion teaches poker strategy, advanced theory, and practice through hand-reviews of his winning games. Learn how to sharpen your mental game through demos on reading opponents and spotting tells. Join Daniel at the table to increase your win rate, grow your ROI, and get your game “in the money.”


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

This class is fantastic. You can tell that Daniel really wants to treat this as if he were a college professor teaching poker theory.

Awesome! Some things ive already known but put in a way better perspective!

Too early to comment. Have to repeat lessons a few time to grasp all the concept, and then repeat again to be competent in the skills shown.

A good over all look at working at a subject to master it.


A fellow student

what are the best ways to quickly identify the "skill" level of players at your table?

Steve L.

I found a way to instantly find out if you're at the right table. After I win a pot I try to explain my thinking process. When one person says that they don't care what I was thinking and everybody else nods in agreement, then I know I'm at the right table because everyone (I hope) is playing level one. If they listen and pay attention, I'm at the wrong table because they are paying attention to my tells and patterns. Keep my my mouth shut after that regardless, but I get a read on the table instantly. By the way you could BS your thinking process, so you aren't giving any real information out. If anybody thinks this is either a good idea or bad idea, please give feedback.

Stephan C.

HA! Laughing about Daniel's comment about the top tier game players "opening store". I recall countless occasions back in the 90s and early 2000s, at the Bellagio, watching Daniel, Freddie Deeb, Mike the mouth.... playing 4 handed just waiting for some fish to walk up and join in. Couldn't miss Daniel back then with his flock of seagulls hairdo. I remember once sitting at that game after having rolled up at the 30/60. They were playing 300/600 (limit of course) and a few convention types in suits had just sat down. There was one seat left, and I decided to jump in and see a few rounds. I didn't get any playable cards, so I just lost a few blinds. Well worth the price to witness the sheep shearing which ensued. The convention guys went through about $10k within 30 minutes. And a smile on their faces. They now had a story to tell their friends back home. Win win. That's what it's all about.

Daniel C.

Very helpful lesson for me personally. Thanks Daniel! I often start feeling fatigued after 6 hours or so and start begging for cards...and I keep playing. And usually, thats when my profits start to decrease. Will definitely pay closer to attention to my frame of mind at the table.

Donna H.

I am guilty of all the don't dos. I don't really get a chance to play the game I want to because I live in Utah and have to play the games offered. I like the idea of tracking everything as I seem to have to learn the same lesson several times. What is the best software to track live sessions?

Cary H.

Huge lesson....I keep telling myself this, but the hardest thing to do is to leave. I'm not worried about the other players at the casino (not a home game) saying "oh, hit and run".....since I see others do it constantly, but I suppose it's simple greed. If I make $1K....I want $1.5K....etc on cash games...there is no simple answer to this (or is there?!?) I don't play for a living, but I am good player and I want to sell my company and play full-time. The problem is that when I'm playing I don't want to leave because I love it so much and may not play for a few days. The other problem is when I get tired I get stupid and make bad decisions (so obviously I should leave)....but others don't leave and it's late and I get sucked out on a 2 outer and lose all the profits that just took 10 hours to I know...that's poker. I suppose if I played 5 days a week (or more) I would be ok just playing 5-8 hours of poker and walk away with the daily profits. Would love some constructive feedback.