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Texas Hold'em Rules - Making the Switch To Live Play

You have spent countless hours playing Texas Hold'em online. Every time you watch poker on TV, you get a primeval urge to sit down at a live table in the casino and play, being able to look your opponents in the eyes. You are confident in your game, and have been a consistent winner online; how hard could it be to translate that success into a live game?

There are many differences between live and online poker play. This article will cover some of the biggest changes you will need to be aware of before you sign up and sit down at a casino Texas Hold'em table. Make sure you keep these rules in mind so you don't end up making a costly mistake that could have easily been avoided. Making a mistake because of a simple misunderstanding of the rules will make you look highly inexperienced to your opponents, and can make your live poker experience one you'd like to forget.

Live Play vs. Online Play - What to Remember Before You Sit Down in a Casino

Signing Up for the Game: When you arrive at the poker room, you will generally have to go to the front desk or find a floor person who will direct you to the sign-up board. You will need to decide what stakes you would like to play if you are looking for a cash game. If there is a tournament starting, the front desk will also be able to give you information on the buy-in and structure, as well as sign you up if you wish to play.

Getting Your Chips: Generally before you sit down at a cash table, you will go to the Cashier's Cage, and they will exchange your cash for casino chips that you can use to wager at the table. These chips are the same as cash. Treat them as such; losing them is just like losing money out of your wallet. You can often re-buy directly from the dealer at the table should you run out of chips, and you can sometimes buy-in directly from the dealer at the start of your session, depending upon the casino.

String Betting: If you place chips out in front of your cards, and then reach back to get more chips to put in the pot, this will be called a string bet. The additional chips will not be allowed to be a part of your bet. String betting is forbidden in casino games and most home games. All bets must be made in one forward motion.

Tells: Be careful about your physical reactions while in a hand. If you are consistently reacting in the same way based on the strength of your hand – be it your words, face, hands, or other aspects of body language – your opponents may pick up on these “tells” and deduce the strength of your hand. If you give additional information off to your opponents, you will be placing yourself at a disadvantage.

Acting out of Turn: Always be aware of when it is your turn to act, and do not act out of turn. For one, it destroys the flow of the game, and if you continually do it, you may be asked by the floor person to leave the game. Secondly, by acting out of turn, you are telling your opponents what you plan to do before you have to. If you have a big hand, and attempt to raise out of turn, the opponents yet to act before you can realize your intentions, decreasing the size of the pot you can win.

Keeping Your Cards on the Table: If you remove your cards from view, your hand will be considered dead and will be returned to the dealer, relinquishing any interest and any chips you had in the pot. The dealer will most likely give you a couple warnings before enforcing this punishment. However, if you repeatedly make this mistake, you will be forced to muck your hand.

Keep Track of the Size of the Pot: Online poker offers you the ability to see the size of the pot at any point in the hand, right on the table. When you are playing live poker, this is not the case. In order to know how much money is in the pot at any given time in a hand, you will need to follow the action, and keep track of the pot throughout the hand. Pots can get pretty large, and it is difficult to judge the size of the pot by looking at the pile of chips in the middle of the table.

Tipping the Dealer: When playing live poker, you should tip the dealer when you win a pot. Different players have different tipping styles, but a traditionally applied method is to tip the dealer $1 for any pot that you win that is larger than just the blinds. Obviously you will not tip the dealer during tournament play. However, the dealers still accept gratuity after the tournament from players who cash and wish to reward the dealers for their hard work.

Verbal Declarations: If you are playing online, you can type, say, or scream “all-in” at your poker screen. But if you click the fold button, your hand will fold. If you say, “fold”, “bet”, “raise”, or “all in” at a casino Hold'em table, this is considered a binding agreement. You can not pretend to move all in, in order to see the reaction of your opponent, or you will be forced to actually place all your chips at risk. This is a very important thing to remember when playing at the casino with a large amount of money on the felt.

Protecting Your Hand: Many people use card protectors when playing in the casino. This is not just because they enjoy it, but because it protects their hand. If your cards are not protected, and the dealer accidentally collects your cards, your hand will be considered dead, and you forfeit any interest in the pot. It is best to use a card protector that is not one of your tournament or cash game chips, and keep your cards as far back on the table as you can.

Showdown: If you believe you have any chance of winning the hand at showdown, you should hold on to your cards and flip them over in turn. Even if you have the winning hand, if you fail to turn your cards over, you will still lose the pot since your cards have been mucked, and are considered “dead”.

Calling the Floor: If there is a dispute at the table that can not be resolved by the dealer and the players involved, you have the option to call over the floor supervisor. The “floor” is responsible for listening to the dispute and determining a resolution. In almost every case, the floor supervisor's decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Don't Throw Your Chips Into the Pot: When you put your chips into the pot, you want to either slide, or place your chips into the pot. Do not “splash”, or throw your chips into the pot. If the dealer can't determine the size of your bet, you may not get credit for some of the chips you put in the pot. If you continually throw your chips into the pot, the floor supervisor may ask you to leave the game.

Each casino has it's own set of house rules that must be followed. While this is a general list of some live play faux-pas, be sure to review the casino specific rules before you sit down in a game for the first time. This can avoid embarrassing situations, saving you time and money in the long run!

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