Live poker games, whether tournaments or ring games, can be intimidating the first time, even for those who have plenty of experience playing online poker. Friendly home games are generally laid-back, with low stakes and a greater focus on having a good time, rather than on turning a profit. These ten tips
for live poker - though most are applicable to any live poker game - are primarily intended to assist online poker players
who wish to expand the scope of both their gaming experience and income to the casino poker rooms.
One should apply the same bankroll management scheme to live games as to online poker games
, and avoid games that require a buy-in of more than one's bankroll plan allows. Opinions differ on precise bankroll strategies, however, once a player has chosen a bankroll strategy, it is imperative to follow that scheme's guidelines, even when stepping out into the live poker arena. One should never enter a live poker game that the player cannot afford to lose.
There are several reasons never to pick the hole cards up off of the table. Taking them off the table opens the risk of accidentally exposing one or more cards to an opponent. Also, every time a player takes another look at their cards, it conveys a lack of confidence and/or experience to the other players. Develop a habit of merely lifting the corner of the cards just enough to reveal the rank of suit of each, then immediately commit the cards to memory to avoid having to peek at them again.
Online poker players can become spoiled to the computer prompting actions, and restricting their wagers to that which is valid. Maintain a constant awareness of the current bet, and who's turn it is to act. This will help to keep the game flowing, and prevent unwanted attention as the one causing the game to lag. Also, practice recognizing the other players' betting patterns as, unlike online poker, there is no option to take notes.
When raising a bet, announce that intention immediately in order to avoid "string betting" (placing the amount of chips required to call the bet in the pot, then adding more chips to the pot for a raise). String betting is generally prohibited in poker rooms
, therefore it is best to prevent the hassle entirely by stating the intention to raise, gathering chips in the amount of the current bet and the raise amount, then contributing the combined total of chips with a single motion. This will effectively prevent any confusion, clearly indicating that it is the next player's turn.
"Splashing the Pot" (tossing chips carelessly into the pot) is considered rude, as it slows down the progression of the game while the dealer is forced to count the chips in the pot in order to confirm the amount of the wager. This can easily be avoided by neatly stacking the required amount of chips, and gingerly placing them in the center of the table, where the dealer can quickly and easily verify that the wager is valid. Assembling chip stacks based on easy-to-count numbers relative to the chip's value will also help to speed the game along.
As in online poker, chatting at a live poker game with the other players during a hand is distracting, and prone to reveal too much information. This is why many poker players, especially professionals, are seen wearing ear-buds at live poker events. Stay alert, keep quite, and politely evade any conversation with other players at the table. Also, avoid making derogatory comments about other players, or emotional outbursts concerning your own hand, even if the hand has ended.
Drinking alcohol, taking elicit drugs, or simply playing poker in a foul or distracted mood can lead to poor decision making during the game, making the player an easy target for anyone with a fair amount of live poker experience. Players who's minds are free of outside concerns, and are not impaired by mood-altering substances, tend to play at the top of their game. If fatigue, frustration, or worse, desperation begins to set in during the course of a game, it is time to cash out and take a break from the action.
While live poker games can be very intimidating at first, it is important not to let anxiety overcome one's demeanor. Sit up straight, handle the chips with deliberate care so as not to accidentally knock over a stack, and remember to breathe. The nervousness will be begin to wane with experience, but in the mean time, try to project an air of confidence and don't take the game itself too seriously.
When first venturing out into live poker games, it is advisable to play a tight game, and keep bluffs to a minimal. Seated at a low limit table with players of even less experience, bluffing on the button is perfectly acceptable when no one has made a confident raise. However, when competing against players of even intermediate skill, especially loose players, bluffing can become expensive quick. Keep the number of players at the table in mind too. The more opponents there are, the more likely it is that someone will hit a respectable hand.
Unlike online poker
games, live poker games have a dealer employed to oversee every detail of each hand, cocktail waitresses taking drink orders for numerous tables, and chip runners acting as card room cashiers on the floor. Customarily, each staff member should be tipped when supplying a poker player with their services. Dealers are traditionally tipped by the winner of a sizable pot, usually $1, though more would be polite in the case of a particularly large pot. Cocktail waitresses should be tipped $1 per drink, and pass a $1 gratuity to a card runner delivering chips.