Live Poker 5-minute Guide
While you may have practised and played online or at a table against a dealer, there is no way around improving your live game than just sitting down at a table and getting started. To begin you do need to have some knowledge of the game, if you don’t, then it is better to start by either playing at a table where you can play a dealer, or online where you can find great games that will help you get to know all the winning hands and get a feel of how the game works.
Many popular variants of poker are played live, the most common being Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hold ‘Em, Seven Card Stud and Five Star Stud. You will find that there are many different tables all with different blinds and limits, so you can easily find out where to get started.
Habits To Avoid
While popular culture might have you think that most poker players wear sunglasses, caps or hoodies and other clothes that may conceal their body language, it is not a tactic used by real players. A respectful atmosphere is key to playing good live poker, if you dress appropriately and do not make any exclamations or whine when you win or lose, you will be able to let others concentrate on their game.
Stacking your chips in a clear way so other players can see how much you have in your pot is incredibly important. In some casinos, hiding chips or deliberately trying to deceive other players can have a penalty.
Behaving rudely towards the dealer is also something you must avoid. It is disruptive and does not work as a tactic to assert strength, in fact it could lead to you losing your seat.
Always make sure you specify that you are raising, in some casinos if you just throw your chips into the pot without making it clear that you were raising, it will be seen as though you are only checking.
Manners go a long way in poker, if you make a nuisance of yourself then you can even sometimes experience other players ganging up on you when they have the chance, or players who deliberately target you. It goes without saying that if you disrespect the table severely then you can be kicked out of the casino and possibly receive a suspension as well, so don’t try to act out or upset anyone, just focus on the game.
No House Advantage
In live poker the house does not play, which means that you never play against an opponent with an advantage. All players have an equal chance of winning each round, setting aside skill level and tactics.
In live poker, the dealer usually keeps two decks of cards. The dealer will alternate decks after each round in poker, once all of the turns have been played and the round has concluded, the dealer will take the freshly shuffled deck out of an auto shuffling machine and use it for the following round. The used deck will go into the auto shuffling machine and will be used again once the following round has concluded.
Every live game of poker is different from the last one. After playing some games of live poker you will see how variable each game is, as different players employ their own strategies. When playing for longer periods of time, it becomes easier to distinguish how the other players at the table play their hands, this could put you at a great advantage if you can pick out their tells and know how much to put in to make them fold.
In online poker there is a possibility to play against some players who play for only a couple of rounds or against players who may play for the entirety of the night (because they may be playing from a different time zone). This also can be incredibly variable, but the biggest difference here is that during play, it is near impossible to read players, or to try and bluff with confident body language. Gamers will employ more generic tactics, of playing against the odds rather than against the players, which is still great fun, but you may find that you play better when sitting at a live table game and you can play against the players and against the odds.
More Time To Think
Playing poker online is very quick and that can prompt players to play more carelessly, especially if they have multiple games running simultaneously and are playing casually in each. While it may feel like live poker is a far slower game, this is a great advantage because you can use that time to think about your hand and concentrate on what move you will make next. Rather than play many games with small bets and hoping that you can win rounds by luck, in live poker there are many new skills that you can learn to get ahead.
Another important thing about live poker is that, unlike online poker, you have to play the long game. What is meant by this is that you should not try to force games to go quickly by throwing in bigger amounts of money in the beginning because you will most likely quickly lose and then you will leave empty handed. Patience is your strongest weapon in the beginning, as you can get a feel of how the other players use their cards and how you can catch them out or how you can outwit them later on.
Once you have played a few games you will get the gist of what speed you like to play at, and when is the best time to strike.
Perfect Your Game
There are a number of new skills you can pick up when playing the game live, all that can help you perfect your game. Developing your ability to find out peoples' tells is not a skill that you can learn from a book or an article. While generally speaking it can be said that these derive from psychological body language, it will not help to make any general assumptions when playing poker, and you will have to find out for yourself what strategy works best for you against different players.
For the entertainment factor, live poker is hard to beat. You can find a huge variety of different tables, some are more casual and friendly, with players who came to play some poker but also enjoy the community spirit that comes with the game. These tables are quite laid back and are more about having a good poker night with some old and some new friendly faces.
You can also find tables that are far more focused in the game, with respectful players who are dedicated to playing poker and beating the others. This competitive spirit is also a fun place to play for those who want to improve their game and play against opponents who will put more money and time into the game.