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Many players feel more in their comfort zone playing poker online, especially if they haven’t played live before. However, if you have more than one seat to play with I really recommend you giving a live Day 1 a go. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss out on.

When taking part in your first live poker game, try to avoid at all costs letting people know of your rookie or amateur status. Believe me, if the table detects weakness, you’ll be descended upon like a frightened clownfish in a Great Whites’ feeding frenzy. And before you can say ‘Nemo’ you’ll be flapping your way back to the bank with your fin between your legs wondering what possessed you to play this god-awful game in the first place.
Well it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m not saying your first outing is going to be a walk in the park but, if you prepare properly and know what to expect, there’s a chance we can prevent you from having a big flashing ATM sign on top of your head.

In my last column I gave you an idea of what to expect before you have taken your place at the felt. Now that you’ve parked your bum on a seat, it’s time to learn what happens next. Here are some tips to help you feel more at home on the felt:

1) Post your blind

So you’ve had a seat at the table and it’s time to get stuck in. You can do this straight away by posting the equivalent to a big blind or you can wait for the big blind to come to you. This gives you a chance to acclimatize to the table, watch the action and the players before getting involved.

2) Act when it’s your turn

There is nothing worse than throwing your chips in and getting yelled at during your first game because it wasn’t your turn. It is quite embarrassing, seen as poor etiquette and can give away information that will change the outcome of a poker hand. The dealer will always look at you when it’s your turn to act. Always be watching where the action is. That way, you’ll know when it’s your turn and what it will cost and also save yourself from looking like a complete donkey.

3) Protect your cards

The quickest way to go on tilt is by having your cards mucked when you’re sat on a monster. Dealers can make this mistake all the time and watching your flopped full house being mucked when half the table has limped into the game is not something you want to experience. Keep your cards covered by your hands or put a chip on top of them to make sure this never happens.

4) Always announce your action

If you want to raise, say ‘raise’. If you throw in a larger denomination chip but haven’t announced a raise, the dealer will take this as a call (this is to prevent string betting, where players only put in part of a bet to gauge their opponents’ reactions). To avoid this from happening, get into the habit of always calling your action. If unsure of what action you’re allowed to take always ask as players would rather you admit to missing the action than getting it wrong and slowing up play.

5) Place bets clearly in front of you

Make sure bets are clear and in front of the line. The dealer will place them in the pot for you. It’s important for your opponents to be able to see the amount of chips in the pot and the amount you have bet.

6) Don’t be afraid to ask questions

The dealer works for the casino and is there to help. If at any point you have missed the action or aren’t aware of the options, ask the dealer.

7) When you win a pot wait for the dealer to push your chips to you

Don’t go grabbing it in an excited frenzy as this is also perceived as bad etiquette. If unsure whether you’re the winner or not, turn your cards face up and wait for the dealer to call it.

8) Tip the dealer.

In a cash game, especially when you win a large pot, it’s good etiquette to tip the dealer. Of course, you’re not obligated to do so. Watch the other players to get an idea of how much to tip.

9) Don’t use your mobile phone at the table

This is frowned upon and in many casinos it’s prohibited. Wait until you have mucked your cards, leave the table and then make your phone call.

10) Don’t be afraid to leave the table at any time

As long as you’re not in the middle of a hand you can come and go as you please. Don’t feel like you have to stay in a game if you don’t want to. If you play one hand at a cash game and feel uncomfortable, pick up your chips and leave. If you need a break in a tournament, take yourself off to the bar to recharge. Your hand will be mucked in your absence.

You are now armed, ready to get your groove on and experience the felt for real and there is no better place to dip your fins in the water than at Dusk Till Dawn, the best poker club on the planet.

I hope you hit your flops and win your races…unless they are against me of course!

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