Here are some things you can do to keep yourself entertained while increasing your expected value while playing live poker.
If you are like me, you mainly play poker online. It is very easy to keep your brain occupied while playing online poker. First, you can play many tables at once. You also hopefully have access to a great internet connection or television so you can keep from getting bored by listening to music or watching videos or TV. Sure, you should be focusing on the table and what the other players do while you are not in the hand, but the availability of HUDs has made that far less important. But summertime and especially the WSOP brings a lot of online regs to the physical casinos and live poker is a different beast altogether. First, you are stuck playing one table at a time. And many casinos don't even allow phones at the tables or at least will not allow them when you are in a hand. Here are some things you can do to keep yourself entertained while increasing your expected value while playing live poker.
1. Talk to people
Talking to your opponents gets them to like you. If you are a friendly, interesting guy, people want you to stick around. This will generally make a recreational player less tough against you, and may even earn some respect on your bluffs because people will think you are too nice to bluff. It is especially important to try and maintain a bond with the player on your immediate left, because he will have the most opportunities to play back at you throughout the day. You can also find out a little bit about the players by speaking to them, such as their experience level and if they are tilted or upset about something. Make sure not to give away too much information about yourself, though
2. Take notes on people
When you play online, you (hopefully) are making diligent notes on what the other players do in certain situations. Many people skip this habit live. If you are forgetful, most casinos will allow you to bring a notebook to the table and make physical notes on people as long as you aren't in a hand at the time. Keep track of the ranges they play, hands they have semi-bluffed with and their bet sizing both when they have a good hand and when they are bluffing. Also keep notes about the type of player they are, such as LAG, TAG or passive. These notes will also help you when you review your session at the end of the day.
3. Keep track of opponent's stack sizes and practice keeping track of the pot size
One of the biggest challenges going from online to live play is that you don't have a screen in front of you telling you everyone's chip sizes. Knowing these sizes is key for when you do play a hand, and sitting out gives you the perfect opportunity to keep count what people are currently holding. Another substantial change from online is that you don't have someone telling you the exact size of the pot so you have to keep track of it on your own when you are in a hand. Practice doing this while you are sitting out and you will find that it comes easier when you actually need to know the info.
4. Immediate hand reviews
While you are playing online, it goes so fast that you don't really have time to think through different hands until after your session. Live poker moves much slower and you can evaluate your hands immediately after they are played. Could you have gotten more value? Should you have folded on an earlier street? There are many things to consider about the way you play a hand and it is nice to have the hand fresh in your mind, especially when you will be facing the same opponents in the near future.
5. Watch the play and try and guess opponents hand ranges
This one kind of speaks for itself, but still many recreational live players will only try and put their opponents on a hand when they are in the hand. If you are keeping track of the action, trying to put your opponents on ranges can give you information about them for later hands you are in against them and can also improve your hand reading abilities in general.
Boredom can absolutely kill you in poker, and when you make the switch from online to live poker it is VERY easy to get bored. Sure, you can listen to music or watch movies on your phone if they are allowed at the table. Those will kill your boredom, but they likely will not improve your game at the same time. Gathering information about the table dynamics will help you know who to tangle with and knowing your opponent is just as important as the cards you play. If you get too bored while at the tables, it is very likely you will start playing hands you shouldn't or trying to force action and that is a huge cause of diminishing chip stacks. Follow these tips and hopefully your mind will stay occupied with positive thoughts of poker and that should help lead you to victory!
250 Thank You Freeroll Tickets
I am giving away three 250 Guaranteed Freeroll tickets to people who comment below. What do you do to keep your mind occupied at the tables? Entries must be received by Wednesday at 10AM EST to qualify.
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