Playing poker in the comfort of your home whether in front of a computer or at a table with friends is a completely different experience from a game set in the midst of a Casino. If you are new to online Casino play there are certain differences you need to learn that will keep you from making rookie mistakes.
First, know the rules. Online poker keeps you honest by forcing you to follow a set mode of play—software doesn’t allow for mistakes, and it’s easy to let the computer do the thinking for you. Similarly, friends and family might not care when you ask questions—a dealer at a Casino poker table will not necessarily be so forgiving. If you feel you might need some guidance, call ahead and find out if the Casino you are attending offers poker lessons. Many do, and appreciate guests who take the time to avoid common errors.
The first thing you will need to do when entering a poker room is select a game—once you have purchased poker chips from the counter you will find an open table or a Casino employee will direct you to an opening. Make sure you know the minimum buy in so that you bring enough chips to continue play. There is nothing worse than getting a great hand, only to find you don’t have enough chips to see it through. In Casinos, you can’t go in to your pocket once you run out of chips—betting continues without you in a side pot and, even if you have the best hand, you can’t win it.
Most Casino tables require an entering player to either place a bet equal to the Big Blind, or wait until the table position switches to make him the Big Blind. Either method is acceptable, although waiting your turn can allow you to scope out the competition and examine other players’ game play. Know which you are going to do, and let the dealer know.
One of the biggest problems in Casino poker is players betting out of turn—this gives other players an advantage and throws off the entire structure of the game. Always wait until your turn arrives before entering your bet. This includes folding! Never fold until it is your turn to bet! You will know it is your turn once the player to your right makes his play. When your turn arrives, the other players expect you to know the proper bets—the limits before and after the flop and the turn, and the amount you have been raised. Always place your chips in front of you, rather than in the pot, and if you are going to rise, make sure you call “raise” to the dealer before sliding your chips forward.
When the time comes for you to make a play immediately following a dealt card, keep in mind that you can always “check”. You don’t get second chances in Casino poker (and shouldn’t in at-home play either) so make sure you are utilizing all of your options. Once you make a play, it stands—so makes sure it is the play you meant to make. This extends to discarding your hand as well—once you fold, your cards are dead. Even a winning hand cannot be resurrected from the muck, so make sure you really want to toss it!
A special point needs mentioning about handling your cards. Casinos constantly have to worry about potential cheating—you do not want to be a player suspected of cheating. For this reason, when you have a winning hand, leave it in sight for the dealer to examine. Don’t toss it into the muck, as that can draw suspicion that the cards were not what they seemed. Similarly, make sure that you never touch another player’s cards, and that other players never touch yours—even cards cannot touch. Otherwise, your hand can be declared dead, or worse, you can be accused of collusion.
Lastly, hide your cards! Casinos are a place for enthusiasts and serious gamblers alike. Most players, given the chance, are not going to let you off easy for showing your hand. While you may be able to play with relaxed etiquette and behavior at home, a Casino Poker Room will not be as understanding an environment.