There’s a perception among some that poker has become primarily an online game. Certainly, there’s a nearly limitless range of online sites, downloadable PC games, and apps in which people can access the game –– either for cash or free play. At the same time though, live poker in casinos only seems to be getting more popular. Looking to Las Vegas as an example, poker gaming statistics from Nevada show that the annual amount gamers win at the tables has been increasing. It leapt from roughly $120 million in 2018 to $143.14 million in 2019; then, after a pandemic dip, 2021 saw Nevada poker players win an astounding $187.83 million –– the most this century so far.
Now, some small portion of that increase might be attributable to more luck on behalf of players. But more than anything else, it’s an indication of just how much live poker is being played. So, with the game apparently being as popular as ever, we want to provide some tips for those who may be familiar with online poker, but want to try the “real thing” in a casino.
Practice online first
“You’ll come back broke, fatigued and with a lifelong fear and loathing.” That’s what an expert guide at Medium.com has to say about the idea of “just going to Vegas” as a poker beginner. Is it a bit melodramatic? Perhaps –– but the idea is valid. If you head to a real casino without adequate practice or preparation, you’re unlikely to have a good time at the tables. So instead, be sure to get in some easy, no-stakes online practice first. We’d point you toward the WSOP app, which provides ample free chips, real online competition, and constant gameplay –– making it easy to fit in as many practice hands as you’d like in an environment that feels at least somewhat like real casino poker. Appeak Poker, Zynga Poker, and even Apple’s native Texas Hold’em game are all worth looking into for realistic poker gaming as well.
Know the rules & etiquette
Naturally there’s plenty to study up on regarding actual poker rules and game strategy. Beyond this though, there are also unspoken rules and matters of etiquette to consider when you play at a real poker table. Case in point, Poker.org’s guide to real-casino poker mentions that you should do things like tip the dealer (at least a $1 chip when you win a pot), keep chip stacks organized and visible, and waiting your turn to bed or fold. These are simple things, but they help you to fit in, enjoy a smooth experience, and look like you belong.
Prepare to be patient
Particularly if you’re used to playing poker online (or that’s where you’ve practiced), be prepared for a much slower experience. It’s estimated that regular online players may go through as many as 100 hands in an hour. In person however, that number is typically closer to 30. It takes a little more time to deal and handle real cards and chips, and on top of this players tend to take a little extra time to consider their moves (whereas online folding, checking, and betting decisions can be almost instantaneous. Expect a slower game, and get comfortable with the idea of taking as many as 15 or 30 seconds to think if you face a difficult decision.
Dress the part
Finally, remember that you’ll want to look like you belong! Sometimes this means dressing up a bit. For a man, our “Tips to Buy a Comfortable and Stylish Suit” can come into play, and you can piece together a classy but not over-the-top outfit. For women, a dress that would work at a nice restaurant will be appropriate at a nicer poker room. That said, bear in mind also that lots of casinos invite more casual attire these days as well. The best idea is to look up the poker room you’re visiting in advance; see if you can find pictures and gauge how you should dress. The better you fit in, the less you stand out as a “newb” player for others to pick on.
With these suggestions guiding you, you’ll be in good shape to have a great experience the next time you sit down at a real-world poker table.