Moving From Online to Casino Poker

As a result of poker’s explosive growth in popularity in recent years, casinos typically make it one of their most prominent attractions. The hands dealt by a real dealer, however, accompanied by distractions such as pretty girls and free drinks, are of a completely different world than online games. It takes a different approach to succeed in this environment, as well as a distinct philosophy with respect to bankroll management and long-term expectation. This is a very complex topic, but I’ll start to explain a few of the main points here today.

Adjusting to the Physical Environment

One important adjustment to make is very obvious, but still unnerves many players. I’m talking about transitioning from an environment where you can hide behind your username and avatar to one in which you must control your physical movements and emotions and deal with real people who are trying to put you off your game. You’ll encounter a wide variety of players at the casino poker tables, and you can’t let an obnoxious drunk, a mean-spirited arguer or a flirtatious girl affect your play one bit. Players who haven’t played much in-person poker also frequently have the tendency to fumble around with their chips when they either have a great hand or are trying to bluff, and this can often be picked up by more attentive opponents. It might be a good idea to try to organize a few home games with your friends before you decide to tackle the casino if you think either of these points might be an issue for you.

Different Game Varieties

Next, although many online players automatically think of No Limit Texas Holdem when the word poker comes up, several other varieties are also very popular in live casinos. Seven-card stud is a good example of a game which is not as commonly played online, but thrives in casinos worldwide. Also, casino poker frequently offers different betting structures. In addition to fixed and No Limit, both fixtures of all online poker sites, spread limit games are very common. Spread limit means that players can bet any amount within a specific range. For example, in a $5/$10 spread limit game, you must wager at least $5 on any given betting round, but your bet may not exceed $10. You may also encounter more complicated spread limit betting structures in which preflop and flop betting has one particular range, but the turn and river have a higher one. (This is also a common structure for seven-card stud games.) When in doubt, be sure to ask the dealer or a casino floorman for clarification.

In my next post I’ll dig a little deeper into more key differences in online and casino poker and give some more tips to make sure you properly adjust your game.

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