A fair bit is said about seat selection in poker books. Generally though, these books are written mostly with B&M cardrooms in mind, as many authors have little or no experience with online poker. We don't have to worry about seat selection quite as much, but we still need to examine it to ensure we give this issue it's proper due
In spite of all the writing on this, choices of seats initially don't really come up much anyway. In a cardroom, you will be assigned to a table when you're name comes up, and usually there's only one seat. You may have been watching the game though and will have some idea of what the potential issues are going to be with the particular seat that's opened up, but the only real thing you can do about it is change seats when one comes up later.
We're looking, or should be looking for full tables, and we'll choose one with 9 players based on things like flop percentage and average pot. If there is a player or players we recognize as particularly fishy, this will influence our choice as well. We'll be clicking on the seat though usually without any general regard or knowledge of the players around us.
Now, in a cardroom, if you wish to change tables, it is going to be a lot more difficult than it will be online. All we need to do is click our mouse a few times, and within a matter of seconds we can be out of that game and into another seat at another table. And their may not be many opportunities to change seats in a cardroom game, where we will have plenty more, as people come and go at a much faster rate online. So while we need to be aware of issues regarding seat selection, we have the ability to adjust immediately to either situations which need us to get out of that seat, or to take advantage of a better one at the same table.
There are many reasons why a game wouldn't necessarily be to our liking though, and seat selection is just one of them. It's important to weigh all these factors in prior to making a decision to leave. For instance, we may be sitting to the right of an aggressive player, but the person may be a maniac, who would be easily manipulated, or the others at the table may be soft enough that any disadvantage we may be at is more than made up for. If this isn't the game for us though, for any reason, then we should never hesitate to find a better one. It's just too easy to find another table, and we'll cut our profit potential if we are stubborn and don't do the right thing when we need to.
With that all said, here's what we need to be looking for in terms of our seat position among our competitors. The main thing to keep in mind is that you should prefer to have more aggressive opponents to your right, and less aggressive opponents to your left. This is the case generally, for a number of reasons. First, position is more of an advantage the more aggressive the opponent is. We not only want this advantage over the aggressive player, but we don't want him to have this advantage over us.
By aggressive here we mean both in terms of the amount of cards played and the kind of betting. This doesn't necessarily mean loose per se, but we're not referring to someone who rarely gets involved in pots. A more correct way of looking at what is meant here is a player's raise rate. Meaning, out of every 100 opportunities to raise, say, how many times will the player raise rather than call or fold. This prevents us from having to muddy this up with a lot of different characterizations like - aggressive and this but not that, etc. We need a simple rule of thumb to apply to decide the positional worth of seats, not something you need a chart for.
Why is position more of an advantage when you have it against an aggressive player? If you remember the lesson on position, we covered why it's an advantage generally. Since aggressive players raise more than the average player, this increases the risk level for us, and we want that information prior to acting. For instance, say we have a hand that's worth a call, but not worth calling a raise. We have position over Mr. Raise. We of course would prefer to see what he is going to do prior to putting our money in the pot. If he acts after us, then we are going to be wasting our bet, because we don't have a strong enough hand to call his raise. Or, we could just fold this hand in fear of his later raise, which will keep us from contending for pots we should be in if he doesn't raise.
If we act after him, we can see what he's going to do and act accordingly. In this case, we would be throwing the hand away without having to waste a bet this round on it. If our hand is better, we can call with more certainty of not being re-raised by him, or of course we can re-raise ourselves if the situation warrants it.
And, if he has the position on us, he rather than us is going to have this advantage, folding to our raises when we'd want him to contribute to the pot, and just overall have the edge on our play, in the same way we'd have it over him when we have the better position.
So in other words, the most aggressive player should be on our right, and needs not to be on our left. By the same reasoning, we want the most passive player at the table to be on our left. However, this all goes beyond just the player on either side of us though. The whole table actually factors into this. The more aggressive they are, the closer you want them to your right. In an ideal scenario, the table would go as follows: The most aggressive player is on your left, the next aggressive one to his left, and so on, all the way around the table, so that the least one will be last, and on your right. This will give you the maximum positional advantage at the table.
So this is an easy rule of thumb to keep in mind when evaluating the desirability of your seat. There are other factors of course, as position is a central concept in poker, but the best way to approach this is to leave the seat if for any reason you're feeling you're not getting the best of it. That's probably the simplest approach of all