Preferred game: George over Tom

Geroge and Tom games. Believe it or not there are such things in poker.
A Tom game, according to Wiesenberg’s Official Dictionary of Poker, is a poor game, even bad – one you generally should avoid. On the opposite extreme is a George game.
That’s not to say it’s a game dominated by my friend and co-columnist George “The Engineer,” although that’s exactly the type of game at which you might expect to see him seated. According to the poker dictionary, a George game is great.
But a “good” game for one player may be different for another. It all depends. For me, a good game is one where the table is full and most of the players are loose-passive. I avoid tight-aggressive games. Full tables are preferred because the blinds come around less often, and you can win more chips when you hit a monster hand.
Loose-passive players stay in with all sorts of starting hands. They rarely raise the pot, and often call all the way to the river. George players prefer that.
On the other hand, there are players who crave action – lots of betting and raising. They enjoy it most playing against other aggressive players. They often challenge opponents to call. These are Tom players. As for bluffing, Tom players do it much more often. That makes reading their hands a lot harder and, consequently, deciding how best to play against them.
About maniacs: These “maniacs” are Tom players. In the long run, they are bound to go home losers. When they first sit down at a table, their aggressive play may gain them several hands – until the other players wise up to them. Then players with reasonable drawing hands are likely to call them down and beat them.
It is best to be seated to their left. Then you can see what they do before you have to act. What’s more, when you have a strong hand, you can re-raise the maniac’s raise, thereby forcing out the players behind you, gaining late position, and possibly isolating the maniac.
Most of the time, the maniac will not be holding a strong hand so you are highly favored to win the pot.
Table selection: If in a cash game, as distinct from a tournament, you have some choice as to which table to play. Usually your casino will have several tables at the stakes you prefer. If, after being seated at the table, you find it’s a Tom game, ask the floor person for a switch to another table when a seat becomes available.
After signing up for a game, some George players try to watch the tables at their preferred stakes while waiting to be called to a table. If a George player is called to what he regards as a Tom table, he can tell the sign-up desk he will wait for another table, keeping his place on the posted wait list.
Mixed tables: A “mixed table” is one that includes both Tom and George players. If there are one or perhaps even two Tom players at your table, that does not necessarily mean you ought seek a table change.
Getting seated to the left of Tom players can actually put you at a distinct advantage over them and the other (less aware) players at your table. But avoid being caught between two such players. That can be costly as well as uncomfortable.
On the other hand, with three or more Tom players at your table, I would strongly suggest a table change.
Bottom line: George and Tom, whatever you call it, there are good and bad players, and good and bad tables. To be a consistent winner, it makes sense to be a good (George) player seated at a good (George) table.
If you are seated at a table with one, perhaps two Toms, just adjust for them: change seats; play more cautiously. Otherwise, seek a table change.

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