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How to Survive Your First Live Poker Game
When playing poker live for the first time, not only can facing the players be intimidating, but the fear of making a mistake or faux pas. Here are a few tips beyond knowing the basic rules, although there may be more specific rules in each poker room.
Don't be afraid to let the dealer know you are new at playing live and to let you know if you inadvertently break any rules. Trust me, it isn't going to be a secret to the other players, anyway.
If you've played online, you may be used to beeps or flashing buttons reminding you it's your turn, as well as having the pot and the bets all nicely totaled for you. Here you have to do all that yourself, so you will have to pay close attention. Nothing will annoy the dealer or table more than constantly reminding you it's your turn.
Also be careful not to act out of turn, which includes folding before the betting reaches you, or holding your cards in a way that makes it clear you are folding. And do not talk about your folded hand till the hand is over, or you may give away important information about your dead cards for those still playing.
When placing bets, chips must be placed over the line on the table. Also, don't "splash the pot"—dump the chips in sloppily, mixing them with others. The dealer needs to be able to count your chips.
Another betting faux pas is what we call "string bets." That's when you put in the same amount as the bet before you, then add a raise, as in "I'll call your $100, and raise you another $300." That may be what you do in your friendly home games, but it won't make you friends in the casino. If you want to raise, leave the dramatics at home and just say, "Raise."
Another common home game practice that will not fly in a poker room is what professionals call "slow rolling." It's when you get to the end, or "showdown," and you have the winning hand, but let the other player think you don't, even if only for a few seconds. In the movie "Rounders," Edward Norton is notorious for this, and it is one of the worst offenses of etiquette you can commit.
Also be aware most casino rooms have some rules about profanity. You may get away with a slip here or there, but if you go overboard, you may get a warning or be asked to leave. The strictness will vary at different poker rooms. Likewise, how strictly they enforce the "no cell phone" rules in place in most casinos. Not only does it slow down the game, but can be used for unethical practices like player collusion. Put the phones away and keep them away, unless on a break away from the table.
And while it may not be a rule, tipping your waitresses—and your dealers—is good karma. Make sure they remember you for the right reasons.
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Diana Price has been a degenerate poker player for years, although at somewhat smaller stakes than the big guys you see on TV. Sometimes she wins, sometimes she loses, and sometimes she shows you that big bluff, just to put you on tilt by being beaten by a girl.
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