At a poker table, all seats appear to be the same. However, you will very frequently see players asking the dealer to “lock up” a seat that has recently been vacated so that they can move to that seat. Is there any real reason to change seats in a no limit hold’em poker game? There is, but it’s not the reason most people think.
Why Most People Switch Seats in a No Limit Hold’em Poker Game
Most amateur players rely far more on luck than on skill at the poker table, although they may believe otherwise. Thus, if they spend hours without getting any good cards, or suffering bad beats, they will lament their bad fortune. They are likely to blame the dealer or the seat, or some other factor that has nothing to do with how the cards come out. If they see a particular player winning more than their fair share of hands, or notice a large pile of chips at a particular seat, they may covet that seat, demanding to switch as soon as the seat is vacated.
This rationale is ridiculous. The cards have no idea how many good hands have been dealt to any particular seat. Furthermore, all no limit Texas hold’em players will have runs of good cards and bad cards, and the best players know how to handle both situations. Even if one did believe that the cards somehow keep track of where the good hands have been dealt, you could just as easily assume that another seat is “due” to get good cards (an equally ridiculous assumption). While switching seats to “change your luck,” won’t hurt you, there’s no real reason to expect it will help either (unless you unconsciously start to play better because you believe you are now “luckier”).
Why You Should Switch Seats in a No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Game
It can be advantageous for your poker odds to have certain players on one side of you or the other. When you are facing loose and/or aggressive players, players who are likely to bet or raise, it helps to know what they are going to do before you act. If you have a strong hand, you would like that loose player to have an opportunity to bet before you act, so you can trap them. If you want to see a flop cheaply, it helps to know if you are going to get raised before you limp in. For this reason, it is good to have looser, more aggressive players on your right, since the player to your right acts before you on almost every hand. Tight players belong on your left. You can put pressure on them by betting, and if they raise when you limp, you can put them on a strong hand, so you can either safely fold, or gamble knowing that if you flop big, your hand will be disguised and you may well get paid off by a player who believes he is strong. If you can move so that you are positioned with looser players on your right and tighter ones on your left, you have found a good reason to switch seats.
Take note: These suggestions only apply to cash games. In a tournament, your seat is assigned, and you may not change seats during the course of the tournament, even if it is a freeroll.