Top Mistakes Made By New Live Poker Players
After some stretch playing online, many players get to grips with the rules and basic strategy and decide to venture out into live play and head down to their local casino or card room. Live play offers a greater poker experience where you can sit in front of other players and attempt to hold your nerve as your opponents can stare you down looking for tells.
This may sound very familiar to some of you reading this article, as large numbers of players are frequently making the switch from online to live to involve themselves in the real live poker experience. Online poker does a lot in the way of preparing you for live play, but there are some areas that online poker cannot recreate, which will leave you ill-equipped in a few sections of live play.
To help save yourself from making errors in your first few live sessions, I have gathered the top mistakes that new online to live players frequently make when they sit down at the live poker tables for the first time.
“String betting” is when a player makes a bet and moves back and forth from their chip stack to the pot to complete the bet. For example, if you intend to make a $30 bet and move three $10 stacks into the pot one at a time, then this is considered to be a string bet.
This can cause problems during live play because a player that acts after you may think that when you move you $10 stack into the pot, that it is the only bet that you are making. Then, thinking that you have completing your action, that player may go to make his play unaware that you are continuing to make your bet.
String betting is frowned upon in live play, so to avoid any confusion you should announce the size of your bet before moving your chips, or move your chips into the centre in one motion.
String betting is an easy mistake to make, so keep an eye on your betting in your first few sessions at the casino.
Reacting to cards.
When you are sat behind your computer screen, there is no one to see you smile when you are dealt pocket aces or see you shake your head when you miss your draw. However, in live play your emotions are open for everyone at the table to see, so try to remain calm when looking at the cards as they come out.
For example, if you start to show disinterest in a hand then you leave yourself open to bluffs from other players when you may have had the best hand at the time.
A good tip to avoid giving information away through your emotions is to look at your opponents as the flop is dealt and not at the cards. This way you can see how your opponent reacts and you can steady yourself before looking down at what has come out.
Acting out of turn.
Online poker software makes it impossible for you to act of turn whilst playing online, so this slip-up catches many new live players out in their first few sessions. If you act of turn, it can influence the decisions of players who were meant to act before you or after you.
You should always try and pay attention to when it is your turn to act and only make your play when the action reaches you. It is common for players with strong hands to act out of turn because they eager to make their move, so try to keep your composure when you are dealt a good hand.
Taking cards off the table.
When you are dealt a hand, you should always keep your cards on the table and not lift them up and take them into your lap. The cards should be left on the table because it eliminates the possibility of you being able to switch the cards during the hand.
Even if you genuinely make the mistake of taking the cards back to your lap, other players may become a little wary and ask that your cards be folded just to be sure that you were not cheating.
Keep your cards on the table. There is no real need to pick them up anyway (unless you are turning them over at the showdown).
Not keeping track of pot size.
In online poker, the software will display the size of the pot and the bets at every stage of each hand. This feature is not available in live play, and it is up to you to keep your eye on the size of the pot. You can ask the dealer to add up the chips in the pot, but you should ask to do this in key situations only as frequently asking the dealer to count up the chips is time consuming and will slow down play.
Nonetheless, you should try you best to keep an eye on the pot size so that you are able to quickly work out pot odds when necessary. The less time you spend trying to figure out your odds, the more time you have to make the best decision possible when it is your turn to act.
Not tipping the dealer.
Many dealers rely on tips to make a decent wage. There is no set frequency or amount that you should tip the dealers, but is generally good practice that you do.
Some people prefer to tip dealers at the end of their sessions, whereas others tip the dealer after every decent pot they win. In addition, some people are very generous when tipping, and some others less so. If you unsure of how much you should tip, have a look at how much other players at the table are tipping on average and follow their lead. If you are still unsure, a very general way to tip is about 2% of every large pot you win.
Live play mistakes evaluation.
Hopefully this article has given you an insight into what you should look out for when you start to play poker in casinos and card rooms. It may also be in your interest to take a look at poker etiquette to see what is acceptable at the poker tables.
You may find that a few of the above mistakes are from players not familiarizing themselves with the rules of the game and good poker etiquette. You’re not going to get shot for making any mistakes at the poker table, but it is good to have a knowledge about etiquette and how to play to keep the other players and dealers happy.
Live poker further reading.
If you play a lot of poker in B&M casinos, you should check out my friend Jonathan's live poker website. He covers a lot more than I do on live poker etiquette (and how to act at a live poker table in general). There are also an impressive strategy section that contains articles with high quality tips and advice.
Go back to the awesome Texas Hold'em Strategy.