By: Jason Lake
Repetition is the key to learning. That's why online poker players have been taking over the live tournament scene – they put in many more hands per hour than the 30 or so you might get to play in person. And they can play 24/7 from the comfort of their own homes, or wherever they can get internet. You're probably one of the growing legion of players who do just that.
But have you made the transition to live poker yet? As a rule of thumb, live games are considered 10 times easier to beat than online, and we just happen to be in the summer tournament “season” for poker lovers. If you're about to embark on your first World Series of Poker, or you're thinking about putting a toe in your local waters, here are five things to consider for making the transition a bit smoother.
1. Watch Live Poker
If you aren't already watching the WSOP, or the other top tournament circuits, take some time to familiarize yourself with the way players handle themselves at the felt. Notice how they sit, how they talk, and how they move their chips. The best players have a method to what they do. The worst players make mistakes that you can pick up on.
2. Get a Chip Set
A nice one, too, with proper clay chips. You shouldn't have to pay more than $100 to get yourself a pro-style set with all the fixings. Hold the chips in your hand; get used to their weight, and practice stacking them in towers of 20. Do reps pushing them forward on your table – bonus points if you have a poker table to do this with, or at least a felt cover.
3. Play Some Home Games
The best place to practice for tournaments is at home, where the stakes are low and everyone's having fun. If you're not already part of a home game, bring your poker friends over for a tournament of your own. Let them know you're practicing to “go live” – maybe some of them will have some experience and some tips to share with you.
4. Learn the Rules
Each live tournament has its own take on the rules of poker, but there are some general rules that you'll need to know and follow. The “one chip” rule is especially tricky. If someone opens for $30 and you want to 3-bet to $100, don't just put in a single $100 chip. That will be considered a call instead of a raise – unless you say “raise” before performing the action.
5. Don't Get Transfixed by Tells
Expert players are good at reading other people's behavior and sussing out what hands they might have. But this part of the game is rather esoteric and requires proper study to get it right. That pulse in someone's neck could mean strength or weakness, depending on the person and the situation. For now, profile people mostly by the plays they make and the size of their bets, and you'll gradually pick up on tells.