Live Poker: 5 Tips for Successful Play

By Ivan Potocki
September 30, 2021

Playing live poker can be a lot of fun. Whether you play in a home game with friends or visit your local casino, live poker games often offer a sociable and relaxed environment where you can play some hands, have a few drinks, and chat with other players.

But if you’re serious about poker and want to be successful, there is one thing that you’re interested in above everything else, and that’s winning. While it’s nice to have a pleasant conversation and a nice meal along the way, building your bankroll is the number one priority.

If you are in the group of players who see poker as more than a fun hobby and want to find success in live games, this article is for you. These simple but effective tips will help you significantly improve your results on the felt.



1. Plan Your Session Times

The number one tip for those new to live poker is that you should plan your time and clear your schedule. Once you sit down to play, you need to be able to fully focus on the game and not think about anything else.

Of course, this isn’t easy to do, especially if poker isn’t your profession. There are so many things you need to take care of and as soon as you wrap one thing up, another one pops up.

That said, you should still try your best to do as much as you can before you sit down so that you can comfortably spend the next few hours playing without constantly worrying about some obligation not related to poker waiting for you as soon as you come back home.

Knowing there is something you need to attend to will make you anxious as the night rolls on, and this will hurt your decision making process and cause you to make mistakes.

2. Take Your Time

For whatever reason, players in live games frequently make very fast decisions in tricky spots. I’ve done this myself countless times, and it’s something I still need to work on. The best advice I can give you is to take your time and don’t make any rush decisions.

You’re not playing online, so your thinking time isn’t limited, and you don’t get a cash boost from casino welcome bonuses, either. Hence, every chip is worth more, and you don’t want to part with any of them lightly.

Try to develop a practice where you take a few seconds before you act, even if you already know that you’ll check. Give your brain enough time to process the new card or the new action. This approach is guaranteed to make you a better player in the long run.

3. Try to Stay Focused

Even if you come fully prepared and with no outside factors to distract you, it’s still a challenge to stay focused at a live table. The fact of the matter is that live games can be a bit slow and boring at times, especially if you’re getting dealt poor starting hands.

That’s just the nature of the beast and you need to accept it and adjust to it.

While you might be tempted to pass the time playing a game on your phone, watching a movie, or even a poker stream, you should try to avoid it. To achieve the best results, you should focus on the action at the table even when you’re not involved in the hands. The information you pick by just observing other players can be very useful in the future when you finally get in a big pot against them.

4. Avoid Unnecessary Arguments

As entertaining as it may be, the live poker environment can sometimes also be tilting. A player could make a completely nonsensical play and suck out on you, or they might be a bit too proud of their river bluff. It’s not always easy not to react.

But, if you want to be successful live player, you have to learn to take these things on the chin and move on to the next hand.

The simple truth is that players who do these sort of things are usually not very good, which means they’re proverbial suckers at the table. If you’re there to make money, let them talk all they want and don’t waste your energy on unnecessary arguments. Save it for when it really matters.

READ MORE: 9 Topics You Should Never Discuss at the Poker Table

5. You Can Leave Whenever You Want

The final piece of advice is something you probably know already, but knowing you can leave and actually leaving are often a world apart. Obviously tournaments are different, but if you’re playing in a cash game and want to leave for whatever reason, you shouldn’t feel bad about doing so.

Other players will often try to make you stick around, especially if you won a lot and are about to take “their” money off the table, but don’t fall for this.

I’m not saying you should hit and run, as that’s not very nice (although it’s perfectly within the rules). But, if you’ve been playing for a few hours and feel like leaving for whatever reason, you don’t need to feel bad about it.

Maybe you have an early morning or maybe you’ll feel really bad if you end up going from up ten buy-ins to being stuck (which can happen). If you continue playing although you no longer want to, there is no way you’ll play your best game.

So, when it’s your time to go, say your goodbyes and go. Other players will have plenty of opportunity to win back their money in another session!



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Ivan Potocki poker author
Written By.

Ivan Potocki

Ivan Potocki transitioned to poker writing after playing more or less full-time for about five years. He first discovered poker while studying English Language and Literature at the University of Sarajevo. What started with freerolls and micro-stakes games led to a love for poker, opening gates to a whole different world. After finishing his studies […]

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