Going Live Article

After playing in scores of tournaments held at casinos and card rooms over the past year, I have encountered numerous online players making their first foray into a live event with actual players and dealers sitting across the table from them. This information about their lack of playing experience did not come my way because rookie onliners are required to wear a scarlet letter during their inaugural live event. Instead, I easily obtained this information by just paying attention to the table talk prior to the event.

Maybe it's nerves or just naivete, for whatever the true reason many players making their first move from online games to live events are willing to let their opponents in on their less than secret secret.

Because of the Internet and television, there has been a democratization of poker. The game no longer belongs to the card sharks who live in the shadows of casinos or card rooms. Now playing alongside these old-timers are college students, housewives, insurance agents, etc. The poker boom can be attributed to all the first-time players willing to make the dive into a pool often filled with sharks.

For those itching to make their first move to a live event, they should decide to go for it. Poker is not only a great way to make money, but it's a fabulous and challenging hobby. However, once a person decides to play against live opponents and not just computer-generated images, there is no reason they should make the rookie mistake I encountered so many times. A novice must keep his background quiet; it's a quality that strong players can easily exploit.

There is a reason first-timers are often referred to as "fresh fish."

Commonly during tournaments, experienced players will single out first-timers and place extra pressure on them by making big raises in front of them and then following up their bets with a loud re-raise. Novice players tend to buckle when faced with a re-raise made by a stoic opponent sitting across from them, if opponents are unaware that a player is new to live games, that technique might not be used as much.

Also, experienced players will target the novice from the beginning and try to steal pots because they are thinking first-timers won't fight back because of the fear of quickly getting knocked out of a tournament.

Playing against strong players is hard enough, so there is no reason to give them more ammunition by exposing your limited background to them.

That is why it is imperative for beginning players to watch a live game in person to see all the actions and behaviors before hand. Don't just watch a televised event that has so much of the dull (yet important) action edited out for time purposes. Beginning players should first go to a casino or card room and watch a lot of tournaments prior to making their first move.

Those with little experience in live games should focus on how the players talk, their interaction with one another, and how the dealer controls the game.

Another technique novice players must avoid is the critical mistake of looking at the hole cards prior to their time to act. This move sets off a silent alarm at the table and will result in experienced players making every possible move to nab the rookie's chip stack. A first-time player should watch how the others before him react to looking at their cards. That is the best time to find a tell an opponent might have. Once it is the rookie's time to act, he should quietly and confidently look at his cards and then make a smooth but calculated decision.

The game of poker looks so easy on television and the rules are simple enough to learn; however, before a player goes against live competition for the initial time, he must understand the intricacies of the game. If not, he might as well just hand his chips over to the players who treat the game like a second language.

Aaron J. Moore
Author Bio: Aaron Moore is a Princeton, N.J., based freelance sportswriter who loves poker as much as he does the Philadelphia Phillies. Needless to say, even if he wins a miniscule amount at the poker table, he is better off than his favorite baseball team.

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