If it is your first time at a table, you might find the whole experience to be overwhelming. The chips, the cards, the players, how to look at your hand without showing it to everyone else, acting in turn, and other subtleties that you wish you knew but haven’t even heard of yet.
You may have read some books, played at home with friends, or even played on the Internet, but the table experience is a part of poker that has to be experienced to be appreciated.
Why do most people play poker? It’s the social experience. You can walk in any time of day, take a seat, visit with everyone at your table, leave when you feel like it, and even try your skills at taking their money home with you…all in a day of poker.
It’s sometimes hard to beat someone that you’ve sat next to visiting with for the last few hours, especially if they haven’t won a hand. Now you’ve become friends, of sorts, and you have them beat…you almost feel guilty taking their money. Get over that immediately. Poker is a game. The number of chips in front of you keeps the score. You paid for your chips.
In order to play poker, and play it correctly, you must play your hand. If you check to a friend because you don’t want to take their money, they may catch a free card that beats you. Always play your hand. If you do, and you lose the hand, you still played well. The longer you play poker, the more you will realize the value of playing well. Never venture more money at the table than you can afford to lose. No one sits down with the thought that they are going to give away their money but losing is part of the picture. In order for someone to win, someone else must lose.
It is a good idea to keep a log of your play. The amount of your buy-in, game, limit, table changes, cash-outs, and even a record of the people you played with and notes on them. Keeping a log will give you information on your own play and how you’re doing with the game over the long haul. Many people make the mistake of justifying their play and deluding themselves with what they won and lost. A log will keep you right on track. Never play ‘short’ money. Always have enough money on the table to play a hand if you pick one up. Otherwise you are costing yourself money by running out of chips and going all-in.
Never feel strange about picking up your chips and leaving a game. If you don’t like the feel or speed of the game, leave. It’s much easier to return to play at another time, knowing that you were in control of your play when you left. Even if you’re having a losing day, it’s better to pick up the last of your chips and leave with them rather than trying to wait for one more hand. And learning to leave with chips is one of the greatest ways to begin your playing career.