How to Change Tables in Poker

Often you'll find yourself at a table that just isn't working for you. Maybe some of the more passive players have left and been replaced by aggressive ones, maybe vice versa. It might be time to change tables. The floorman or brush maintains two types of lists: waiting lists and change lists.

Waiting Lists

Each limit has its own waiting list. They don't maintain a waiting list for Hold'Em, they maintain a list for 3/6 Hold"Em, a separate waiting list for 10/20 Hold'Em, and so on. It's a good idea to keep your name on the waiting list for all limits for which you have enough of a playing bankroll. If your name comes up on a list for a different limit than you're playing, you can just decline if you think your table has a better game. If you have your name on the waiting list for the other limits, it's important to keep an eye on the other games, constantly evaluating their potential. When your name is called, you will have to move or decline. You won't be given time to watch the game for a while before you decide.

Change Lists

Changing to another table at the same limit is an entirely different procedure. When they have more than one table at the same limit, cardrooms keep a list of players who want to change tables, but the actual procedures for doing this vary widely. In some cardrooms one of the tables is designated as a "must move" table. If Table Two is a must move table, then whenever a seat opens at Table One, the player who has been on Table Two the longest must move. New players are always seated at Table Two. If the cardroom you play at designates must move tables, then you'll probably have to negotiate something with the other players if you want to move before your turn.

In cardrooms that don't designate must move tables, changing to another table at the same limit is still not a standardized procedure. Some rooms keep a formal change list to allow players already seated in a game the option of taking a new seat when one opens up. In most cardrooms, however, the brush will rely on his memory to maintain a change list. Especially if they are busy enough to have more than one table at the same limit, you can count on the brush's memory being faulty.

You'll have to maintain some vigilance of your own to make sure you are allowed to move to an open seat, once a new player has been seated it'll be too late. One of the benefits of playing in large cardrooms is that there are often other tables available for a change. When you're seated at a table, always ask the brush to put your name on the change list. You should keep yourself on the list for other limits within the range you're comfortable with. Pick a good table, and be prepared to change when the conditions change.

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