Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Tips for playing in a live casino

I have a ton of work to get done before I go to Vegas tomorrow (whee!), and I still have to finish Part III and IV of last weekend's trip report (good thing not much of note happened this weekend or I'd be really behind), but I'd figured I'd write up my list o' things online players should know before playing for the first time live so as to not look too goofy. How's that for a run-on sentence?

Heather's tips for online players sitting down at an online table or, how to not make Heather say, "You play online a lot, don't you?":

  1. Verbalize your action - Unless you're folding, be on the safe side and say "raise" or "call" before you do anything with your chips, as a verbal declaration is binding. If you're playing no-limit and you know how much you're going to raise, say the amount you're raising to: "raise to 50". This way you won't ever get called for a string bet and have to take back some of the money you intended on betting. In general, it's easier to just state the final total ("straight up" or "all day" are often how you'll hear it referred to in the casino) than to state the amount you're raising. But, if you're going to do that anyway, just say 'more' - "Raise, 100 more.", otherwise the dealer will probably assume you meant the number as a total.

  2. If someone has verbalized in front of you, keep the action moving and don't wait for the chips to be put in the pot - Since verbal declarations are binding, you can keep the game moving by continuing the action. Call, raise, or fold if you're going to do so. Obviously, if you're playing NL and you're looking to pick up a tell by the way they put their chips in, you want to wait before moving, but if this is your first live game, it takes practice to pick up tells. I'm not even that good at it yet!

  3. When raising, don't put the call and the raise in different groups - This just isn't done in live play, and is the biggest tell that someone plays mostly online and very little live play. Put all your chips into the pot in one group, state the total (see above) and let the action move along.

  4. When counting chips to put in the pot, make them of reasonable sizes - This applies much more to NL than limit, but just for reference: stacks of two chips is not a reasonable size, especially when you're putting in a $50 bet. Very little annoys me more than to watch someone count out 5 piles of $10 and push them into the pot. A reasonable size is 1/2 the bet or stacks of $20 or $25 - whatever divides evenly (2 stacks of $15 fora $30 bet, 3 stacks of $20 for a $60 bet, 4 stacks of $20 for an $80 bet (or 3 stacks of $25 and a lone $5, whichever), or even 3 stacks of $15 for a $45 bet). Just for the love of all that is good, don't put in a gazillion little rows of two chips!

  5. Tip the dealer! This is something you don't need to do online, but dealers make minimum wage, in general, and they make most of their livelyhood off the tips the players provide. The dealers are providing you with a customer service, so tip them accordingly. Also, don't be afraid to tell the dealer this is the first time you've played live, as that gives them a heads up to poke you a little when the action is on you.

I'm sure I had more notes, but I left my little notebook at church on Sunday (seriously, and that's not a euphemism), so I'm working from memory here