Sitting down to play live poker for the first time can be a bit intimidating, especially for newer players who are not completely familiar with the rules. There are some important rules to keep in mind when you’re playing in a live poker match. Being familiar with the rules of the game will help you become a better poker player.
It’s important to distinguish whether you are playing a limit game or no-limit game. There’s a crucial distinction between the two betting structures. In limit games there is limit to how much each pot can be raised. If it’s a pot limit game, the pot can only be raised the amount that is currently in the pot. In a straight limit game, bets can only be raised a fixed amount. Because of this limitation, player should only play with solid hands. Betting in limit games is nearly impossible. In no-Limit games where players can go “all-in” anytime, the dynamic of the game changes immediately.
It is important to remember that in the most common poker games, Hold ‘Em and Omaha, games are played with blinds and not antes. This means that players do not need to bet every hand. Only the big blind and small blind must place an initial bet. This provides players the option of folding garbage hands without losing any money as an ante.
It’s also good to keep in mind the fact that you will not lose your place in the game as long as you leave chips on the table. Sometimes a new player may believe he cannot get up to use the restroom without losing his seat. Almost every casino and card room allows a player to get up to use the restroom without his place at the table. There’s no reason to play if you’re feeling uncomfortable. You will not lose your seat.
There is also not a time limit to make decisions in live games. Players accustomed to online poker rooms tend to think there’s a set time limit for making decisions. Most land-based casinos and card rooms do not have a timer running for each betting decision. So unlike most online poker rooms, you will not be forced to fold if a decision is not made within 30 seconds. If there’s an important decision to make, some players will sit and think for five minutes or more. This is perfectly within the rules. Players playing live for the first time should not feel rushed into making decisions.
Remembering your position is an essential part of any winning poker strategy. Always know your betting position for the current hand and the implications of betting from that position. A hand that would be playable on the button (the last person betting after the flop) may not be playable in an earlier position. Paying attention to position is one of the first skills a new player should develop. Good players will typically only play strong hands from an early position and many play or bluff with lesser hands from the button position, especially if the earlier positioned players have folded.
An important detail that many new players do not realize is that players do not need to look at their cards until it is their turn to bet. Many players will look at their cards immediately right after they receive them. If you are on the button, you do not have to look at your cards until it’s your turn. Take advantage of this. By instantly looking at your cards, you could give away unconscious hints at whether or not you have a good hand. By not looking at the your cards until your turn arrives, there is no opportunity for a player in an earlier position to read your body language for any “tells” (clues that give away whether or not you have a good hand).
Inexperienced poker players should practice online before entering live land-based poker rooms. Get comfortable with the rules of the game so that when you do enter a live tourney, you’ll be able to compete with confidence.