There are plenty of advantages to playing poker online from convenience to the ability to participate in more than one game at a time. That being said, many players reach a point where they want to test their skills in a live action game at a poker room or casino. If you’ve had success online and understand the basics of poker strategy there’s no reason you should give live play a shot. If you want to take poker seriously it’s extremely helpful to be adept in both venues. This is particularly true if your goal is to eventually participate in big money live tournaments such as the World Series of Poker. At the very least, it’s a good learning experience to at least try out live casino play.
A common mistake of players just making the jump from online poker to live action play is to assume that it’s a seamless transition. It’s not—the foundational theory and skills might be the same but in a live game the level of complexity is much higher. The additional information from being face to face with your opponents and the differences in the speed of play requires adjustments in your strategy and decision making process. Plus there’s some rules and unwritten codes of good behavior that you’ll want to be aware of before you sit down and play.
STARTING OUT IN LIVE ACTION POKER PLAY
–MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICE OF GAME: You’ll want to start by finding a casino or poker room with the widest variety of game options available. This is a major advantage of being in a large gaming market like Las Vegas but do the best you can. You’re looking for the right type of game and the right level of play. On balance, you’ll find that the quality of opposition in live play is better than you’ll encounter online. This should be obvious since the level of commitment is much greater to participate in live poker action. Anyone can play online at any time while live play requires some consideration of logistics. Take the time to get a feel for the new environment and what games are offered. Make sure to play a game you’re already good at. This isn’t the time to try and learn a new game which is much easier to do online. It’s also essential to pick the right stakes level so you don’t get in over your head.
–BE AWARE OF EVERYTHING: Online poker is great for ‘multitasking’ and it’s possible to play well while doing something else. This isn’t the case in live play. You want to be aware of everything. This is part of the challenge of live poker and one of the skills of professional players. To start with, you want to keep an eye on your opponents. Look for ‘tells’ that you can possibly use in your favor down the road. At the very least, you should watch the good players at your table since you might learn something. It’s impossible to give a comprehensive list of what you should look for and why but just keep your eyes and ears open and pay attention.
–DEMONSTRATE GOOD BEHAVIOR: You’ll often see a novice player trying to emulate some hothead pro he’s seen on TV. Don’t be ‘that guy’. Keep in mind that many of the things that are done automatically for you online are now your responsibility. Post your own blinds and know when the action is headed your way. Never act out of turn, don’t show other players your cards either during play or after you fold them. Most importantly, comport yourself in a gentlemanly manner and show good manners to your opponents and casino employees. Best case scenario—you might make an acquaintance that can help you in some way or another. Worst case scenario—bad behavior can get you booted and banned from the property.