Your First Trip to a Live Poker Room (Part 2)
One of the biggest tips that let players know that you aren't a veteran of live poker is how you bet. Unlike online poker where you're never physically moving chips, live play at a public poker room often requires betting to be made in a very specific way. This is done to ensure fairness and eliminate uncertainty. Each cardroom has its own rules regarding bets. The three typical ways a poker room may define what constitutes a bet are:
1. Placing chips past the bet line
A betting line is an actual line on the felt that circles the interior of the poker table. If any chips are placed past the line, that is the bet. Some house rules include that the chips must be placed past the line and released, some say that any amount in your hand is the bet. A player could grab a stack of ten red chips, place them past the line and then cut the stack in half, reclaiming $25. Whether that is a $25 or $50 bet depends on the house rule.
2. Placing chips past your cards
This is used often if the table doesn't have a bet line. Your two cards become the border that determines if you've made a bet. This is also used as a deterrent to prevent players from hiding their cards behind their chips. Whether the chips are cut or released also comes into play and depends on the house's rule.
3. Any forward motion of chips.
This one is a little less forgiving. This means that you bet whatever chips you move forward while making a forward motion with your hand. With this rule you can get into trouble pretty easily if you routinely play with your chips.
There is one way to always avoid the confusion over these betting variants. Verbally declare your bet before moving any chips. In poker, verbal declarations are binding and no matter how you throw out the chips afterward, you will be making the bet that you stated before. When declaring a raise make sure to be very clear. Saying a single number over a raise could mean raising to that amount or raising that much above the previous bet. For example, if someone bet $40 and you wanted to raise $60 more, you could say "I'll raise to $100 total", "I'll make it $100 straight", or "I'm going to raise $60 on top." But don't just say "$100" or "$60" because it's too ambiguous.
On the other hand, there are rules that apply to nearly all cardrooms.
- String betting is always strictly forbidden.
- The oversized chip rule is important to know. If you throw in one big chip without stating otherwise, it's always a call. For example, if someone bets $5 and you throw in a $100 chip, you just called $5 and will get $95 in change.
- In no limit and pot limit games, minimum raises can be confusing. In a $5/$10 NLH game, if a player raises to $30, the minimum raise would make it $50 total. Most people mistakenly think it would be $60, because that is double the total. The minimum raise is twice the size of the previous raise, not twice the previous total.
- Protect your cards. Placing a chip on top of your cards is a universal signal that your cards are live. So the dealer has no excuse if he accidentally mucks them.
- Read our article on what a straddle is. Find out if and which type they use in your particular cardroom.
- Find out the house's rules concerning electronics and clothes. Can you wear headphones? Can you have your hood pulled up? Can you use your phone while you are in or out of a hand?
- If it folds to around to just you and the other player in the blinds, know what chopping is and if this cardroom allows it.
- Most importantly, pay attention to the action! Post your blinds without having to be reminded and know when it's your turn to act. There's nothing worse than someone who needlessly slows down the action.
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