Hot Seat Strategy

My definition of a ‘Hot Seat’: A player who wins at least 80% of the pots at a 6+ seat no-limit table including at least 6 contested hands.
The Hot Seats I have seen typically last from 8-15 hands with about half being contested, although streaks of 20-30 hands occasionally occur.
In my first few months on Replay I lost several big pots to Hot Seats, usually by highly improbable draws that hit the Hot Seat. I then settled on a strategy of passivity. I will not put any chips in the pot while another seat is on fire. Run the clock a little and wait for the streak to end or for a table change. Watch the others sacrifice their stacks against a lucky streak. When the hot streak ends you are usually in decent shape with several more players busted and a big stack that is generally a below average and overconfident player. I consider the Hot Streak over when the deal has circled the table and the Hot Seat has not won a contested pot despite being involved in at least one.


Ah, the magical mythical always elusive hotseat theory!

I almost hate responding to this theory because I feel like the parent that finally tells junior that Santa Claus isn’t real but it has to be done.

The reality is there is no hotseat in poker if the program or dealer is using a truly random shuffle. We could get deep into the weeds of whether any program shuffle is truly random and whether online software can be manipulated to favor certain players but let it suffice to say we hope there are no shady poker websites that would stoop to such tricks and the rare few that have done that usually end up getting busted.

So, with that said there is no hotseat in a holdem game and your odds of getting “good cards” is just as high as it is for all players because the deal position rotates with each hand and the cards are randomly shuffled. That is not true for all poker games and live blackjack is an example of where seat position can make a huge difference if you are able to do some basic card counting.

The fact is you can not control what cards you get by the seat you take and any “streak” you may think is happening will happen to all people at the table in the same averages over time and JoeDirk’s post above explains that with a great graphic.

HOWEVER, holdem is a game of skill and there are MANY things you can do to give yourself an edge that most advanced players use so lets talk about the things you can control.

Table choice: The more players on a table the lower your odds of hitting a winning hand and higher the risk that your bets will be called. You have the choice in ring tables of playing heads up, 4 player, 6 player or 9 players tables. Choose the 4 or 6 player tables to increase your odds.

Opponent choice: in a tourney you don’t have a choice and you will play whoever is seated at your table but in ring games you can choose to play against people based on their ranking or your observations of their play style based on observing them before joining a table.

Seat Choice or position: Wait I just said there is no hotseat. That is true but if after observing a table you see that one player is a super aggressive better that always raises the blind then you want the seat following that player not preceding them so you can choose to play that hand or fold without as much risk of betting and getting your bet always raised if you precede that player.

Your state of mind: If your state of mind is stressed by anger or emotions or distracted your chances of correctly betting and reading the table and opponents is going to be effected. Alcohol and drugs also effects play as well as lack of sleep. So can magical thinking that the game is rigged or there is magical hotseat and you are never in it.

Your hand and betting strategy: This is the most important factor in determining your odds of winning any specific hand and winning hands over time. Many books and articles go into great depth to explain these strategies to explain them all here but I will use your example as a case in point:

This is almost always a result of not using a hand and betting strategy that reduces the odds that a opponent will stay in to see the flop, or bet post flop, turn and river.

If you limp in with a weak pre-flop bet the odds are more people will stay for the flop and the more people on the flop the more risk someone will hit a hand and it won’t be you.

The way to reduce that risk is to be more aggressive with your pre-flop bet to drive off the weak hands.

After the flop the biggest mistake I see people make is either over estimating or under estimating their hand and they will bet too little allowing the opponents to see another card or they bet too much on a hand hoping the turn or river will fill in missing cards. Once the flop is down your odds of hitting a card you need also go down.

If you have a strong hand on the flop put up a hefty bet to keep people from fishing to the river.

If you use the correct betting and hand strategy your odds of winning that hand either with better cards or driving off the weak hands and getting a fold will greatly increase and keep in mind winning is not just about always having the better cards or hand and is about how you bet that hand to effect your opponents into folding their hand and if you get them to fold that is also a win.

weigh the risks: It can be very difficult to fold those hands when you can see you still have cards coming and maybe you will hit that inside straight or 2 card flush hit but the odds are very low so unless you have a huge stack or the bet is really low then you are better off folding those bad odds hands.

Yes, I know some people will play them and hit on the river against your huge hand and it is frustrating but the reality is they didn’t respect your bet or they just felt lucky or more likely they are an inexperienced player just playing their daily free chips and they don’t care that getting that hit was a 200 to 1 long shot. When they do hit it reinforces the chances they will do it again and will lose many more hands than they hit.

If you follow the strategies above you will increase your odds of winning hands BUT being a little lucky doesn’t hurt!

1 Like

Poker is a game of skill and luck…and sometimes that luck comes in bunches.
I’m offering a strategy to others who may face that situation, a strategy that I found helpful.
If you do not believe that players can get multi-hand runs of luck, this strategy isn’t for you, obviously.

You say choose the 4 or 6 player tables to increase your odds of winning . As I play 6 and 9 seat tables i would have to disagree with always choosing 4 or 6 peep tables top play. Yes your odds of winning a hand are higher but it also depends on your play. Less advanced players will most always prefer 6 seat tables because they feel like they are winning more chips. This also is a fallacy like the hot seat thing. If you are a more advanced player then you will know that the pots you win are way higher than a 6 seat table. Yes you will win less hands and play less hands as far as rotations, but playing well on a 9 seat table will rake in your chip count much better over the long haul than any other if you are more confident than most others at the table and more advanced in skill level. When you are in a winning hand on a 9 seater and the pot is built up well, than just a few large wins out weighs the higher winning % of a 6 peep table and after u leave the table u will leave with more chips. Also understand that way more blinds and/or antes are added to the pot every hand too that allows the pot build up, more players are in the hand and more callers too. You also can sit out more hands and fold pre flop more waiting for hands you want to play that you think have better chances of winning because your rotation frequency and paying out blinds is much less, so blinds arent eating your stack every 3 hands like a 6 seater, this adds up over time too if you are a more tight advanced player and play less hands but win much larger pots then the average player on the table. It would almost be like saying…you should play 30 player or less MTT than 30 to 100 peep MTT. Your odds of winning a low peep MTT are greater than a higher peep one but your prize pool is far less too. So a more advanced confident player will choose the higher buy in MTT with the highest amount of Players so when they do win the tourney, even tho its less often than lower peep ones, in the long run your amount of chips u win in the prize payout will be much higher. A 9 seater will also give an advanced player a much wider betting range to work with too. I do realize if you are a less advanced player playing on a 6 seater with more advanced players then it might be a better choice but if you are a more advanced player playing with other advanced players or less advanced players than yourself then a 9 seater will rake more chips in any given time frame. if i am in a MTT I prefer 9 seaters much more because of betting ranges being so much higher and the prize pool will be the same whether its 6 or 9 seat table as long as the same # of players are in the MTT.

1 Like

This is all too technical (verbal diarrhea comes to mind).

I’ve noticed three things.

Firstly, good hands seem to come in runs. If you aren’t getting good cards be patient, they will come.

Secondly, if you have high pockets, say Queens, it’s amazing how often other players on the table also have high pockets and if you have pocket queens or kings, the flop will reveal an Ace.

Thirdly, there are “hot seats” for lack of a better term, but they rarely last. I always prefer to survive the hot seats and wait for the luck to come to me.

If only I was a better player to take advantage of the luck when it arrives!

That’s Poker!


Good post, @BigDogxxx. I have a couple of comments.

I’m not sure that smaller tables are necessarily better. You’re right that in general you need to make a bigger hand to win at showdown on a table with more players. However, with a 9 player table when you do make your big hand you are more likely to have someone else who made a hand too and will pay you off. In general the pots are larger when there are more players who can put chips in.

So when you do win you’re likely to win more.

If you have a super aggressive player at the table my advice would be to sit with them on your left. This seems counterintuitive but it puts you in “relative position”. If they are going to bet/raise a lot, a big part of your counterstrategy will be to check-raise them. If you are in relative position, you get to see how the whole rest of the table reacts to the aggressor before deciding what you want to do. If somebody else raises the aggressive player, it’s likely they have something strong so you can adjust accordingly.

I definitely agree that when you have a strong hand you generally want to bet it. But I would disagree that you want to keep people from fishing to the river. You WANT people with weaker hands to call your bets. After all, that’s the whole point of having a strong hand - being able to show it down and win the pot. Driving off all the weak hands is counterproductive. Your bets need to be small enough that many of the weak hands stick around, but big enough so that by doing so they are making a mistake. Yes, sometimes players are going to hit their gutshot straight draw on the river, but if they are calling even a half pot bet on flop and turn then in the long term you are going to win if they’re always chasing.

Plus, a lot of your value is going to come from other made hands - e.g. the player with top pair paying you off when you flop two pair. You need to size your bets so that the weaker made hands can call you down too.


Hi Tacos, in general your odds of winning hands are better the fewer the players on the table and in hands but if you are looking for bigger pots then the more players the better and that also applies to a 6 player table when you don’t want to put out such a big bet pre-flop bet you scare off the money.

I was addressing the hotseat myth to explain why it appears someone is on streak when really it is more likely they are not being challenged with a high enough bet to keep them from fishing. The way to end that hot streak is with a bet big enough to stop them from fishing.

If you want to drag them along to build up the pot you can do that by making a reasonable bet thy will take but unless you are sure your hand is a winner you are increasing your risk they might hit something on the turn or river and we have probably all made that mistake before.

The point of choosing the seat following not directly preceding an aggressive better was my suggestion for new players to allow them the opportunity to bet or fold without always having their bet raised. Advanced players can sit any damn place they want and may use that player to their advantage lol!

My posts are geared towards new players so if you are an advanced player you already know this and have also developed other strategies and tricks to counter the hotseat myth and increase your odds.

Have a great day and win big!

Well this thread quickly filled up with long, off-topic posts.
Is it possible that this thread could be moderated?
The topic is Hot Seat Strategy.

The hot seat is an example of gambler’s fallacy. Past outcomes have no impact on future outcomes. It is the equivalent to picking red in roulette because black has come up three times in a row (although your strategy seems to be to pick black because it is on a hot streak). Altering your approach to poker because you believe a particular player is going to be lucky seems like it would be detrimental. Or it seems like you are questioning the fairness of the deal…

Edit: to tie this back to statistics/probability, independent outcomes that seem improbable can occur quite frequently over a sufficient sample size. For example, the purely random probability of winning a hand in full ring is 1/9, so the chances of winning 3 hands in a row is 1/81, which seems very unlikely. But over the course of say 200 hands, the probability that 1 player at the table will win 3 hands in a row is actually quite high.

Plus if you factor in that poker is a game of skill and players are making decisions based on their individual hands, along with the fact that aggressive players are likely to win more than most players here who are passive, it seems highly likely that many players will go on “hot streaks”, particularly if they are winning without showdown, but even if they are showing down strong hands. It’s just math…

1 Like

Each post has given careful answers to the problem.

When cards are dealt randomly previous deals have no influence whatsoever on the next.

Each new hand is an opportunity for anyone to have the best hand, so believing that any one player is in the hot seat is a losing strategy. You’ll overvalue their hands and undervalue your own.

Passive play in particular will allow players to make stronger hands by the turn and the river. The answer might be to play strong hands more aggressively, to prevent people from drawing out straights and flushes etc. Players who have won big pots recently are more able to do this, because they will tend to have deeper stacks.

Which leads to the “hot seat” phenomenon you are seeing.

The Hot Seat, as I’ve defined it, is a fact. It is an extended lucky streak.
We’ve all seen it. To deny its existence is to deny reality.
Whether one wants to use that factual information to inform his tactics and strategy is a matter of preference. I choose to use all the information available to me in a poker game. If I detect a pattern I take it under advisement.
I have no evidence that the RNG is completely random. And I have no evidence that it is not.
To assume an unknown as a fact and then to use that ‘non-fact’ as the sole basis to declare my advice a fallacy is not helpful to the discussion.

Its the NBA playoffs. Team 1 sags off of Player A because Player A has been a 27% three-point shooter over his long career. In the first half Player A makes 6 of 7 three-pointers.

Team 1’s Head Coach and the Assistant Coach argue in the locker room.
“Player A will revert back to 27%. We should continue to sag off him.” Says the Assistant Coach.
“Player A is hot. He is killing us. We need to guard him tighter.” says the Head Coach.

Who is right?

Well it seems like your not giving any credit to the so called hot poker player and hot 3 point shooting basketball player as far as it also having skill involved. You could say that a skilled or more advanced player is on a hot streak because of having and utilizing both skill and great cards combined but to say there is a so called hot seat with zero or little skill is just not true. These players still have to play out their hands and make the right decisions to have the so called hot seat cards a winner especially when it goes to showdown. Maybe a so called unskilled hot seat bingo player gets pure luck for a streak, but that wont last long anyway and advanced players know how to handle those types of players.

Both coaches are correct in a way (player A may have been lucky or he may have a high level of confidence at the moment that improves his performance). I guess you are saying that the confidence of the player who has gotten lucky will enable them to keep winning? That is certainly a reality of the game, that success can breed more success, but particularly in poker it can also lead to future mistakes. If you hit a lucky hand several times and believe that luck is on your side, you may take more risk, or if you hit a lucky hand and think that your luck will run out soon, then you may take less risk. Either way, if you are changing your strategy based on previous events you are making a mistake because each hand is independent, and therefore the optimal strategy does not change.

Edit: In terms of detecting patterns, that is what are brains are naturally inclined to do in order to make sense of the world (and form ideas, such as schemas, about how things work). Gambler’s fallacy is an example of such a schema in the sense that we try to predict future outcomes in terms of past outcomes. In fact, in general when events are not independent (as in the basketball example) the best predictor of future outcomes usually are past outcomes. But in the case of how the cards actually fall in a poker game (not how they are played, because that is dependent on past events), that is independent from other events.

I am not going to get into the RNG debate, but not having evidence that the deal is fair or not fair is opening a huge can of worms that can be applied to anything, including whether the live game at the local casino is fair or whether the lottery is fair or whether your senator is working in your best interests or whether the sun will come out tomorrow. There are many things we really don’t know for certain, but we continue to trust them.

In terms of the cards that they are being dealt, with a fair dealer, coach A will always be correct when the analogy is applied to poker. It’s a mathematical fact of the game.

Coach B’s narrative could be right if the player’s skill is hot. But the seat itself can never be… believing that it can will automatically put you at a disadvantage

1 Like

In other words, a player may have a lucky streak, which you can recognise afterwards.

But believing it at the time is always a losing strategy, because with each new hand they are as likely as they ever were to have a worse hand than you.

Skill and stack sizes are what count strategically…

You are assuming a totally random deal.
Why are you presenting an assumption as a fact?
Try to open your mind a little.

If you seriously think that the deal is not random, then why would you play? It’s like choosing to play craps with someone who is loading the dice or trying to win at a shell game. I guess lots of people play casino games like slots that obviously favor the house, but the good thing about poker is that you play against other people, so there is no real reason for the hosts of the game (the site) to cheat (unless your opponents can hack the system).

You are saying that you are trying to improve at beating this non-random system, but do you really think that your pattern recognition ability goes beyond the statistics and probabilities that have already been presented that make sense of perceived anomalies? It seems like you need to open your mind to the possibility that your mind is not always correct. Perceived statistical patterns are like optical illusions, there are lots of ways for them to happen because our brains are imperfect at consolidating information (because the world contains so much of it). I am not defending the deal because much like the stock market, I have no ability to perceive it’s actual workings beyond trusting the people running the program. But if you think it’s wrong or rigged or outside of the parameters that it is supposed to adhere to, then it does not seem worth playing the game, but I think first you have to question which of the two possibilities is actually more likely.

I have played more hands here than I would like to admit, and I have seen really bad players get lucky for extended periods, I have seen strings of really good hands, and strings of really bad luck lasting thousands of hands. But all of those “wacky” outcomes lie within the expected outcomes of poker with enough people playing enough hands.


Uh no.
My mind is open to both possibilities…that the RNG is totally random and that it is not. I don’t have enough info to make a factual determination. So how can I be correct or incorrect?
You, on the other hand, have chosen.
Open-minded people don’t make assumptions on scant information and then present them as facts to discredit others.