Most poker players who I know just grab the first seat available at the limit they want to play without any thought about their opponents or their playing styles. Though it may not be noticeable right away, this practice can be very costly over time. On the other hand, the best players I know take the time to scout a table for a while before taking a seat to see if there are any players they can take advantage of by choosing the right seat. By observing the table before playing, even if you aren’t able to sit where you want, you will have gained valuable information about your opponents that they don’t have about you. Here are a few general guidelines for proper seat selection.
As a general rule, you want to sit to the left of any remarkable players. By remarkable, I mean any player who is a maniac, betting and raising at every chance, and players who are very solid. These are the two types of players that can be very dangerous. It won’t make much difference in the long run where you sit in relation to the average players at the table, as if you are a better player than them you will profit from them over the long run.
The reason you want to be to the left of any remarkable players is a matter of position. In the majority of hands you will act behind them so you can control the betting action to some degree and you will have the information gained by their actions before you have to act.
The other type of player that we haven’t mentioned yet is the very poor player, often referred to as a fish. Poor players present an interesting seat selection guideline. First of all, you will tend to make money from them over the long run when you are a better player than they are no matter where you sit. However, beyond that your decision on where to sit is based on the part of the game they are weakest at. If they are calling stations, you want to be on their right. If they were notorious for bluffing at too many hands, you would like to be on their left.
If you are one of the players who don’t take the time to observe a table before choosing a seat, make it a habit of watching for a bit before joining the table from now on. You should quickly see an improvement to your bottom line and you will be able to capitalize on the information you gain before playing.