How to Survive Your First Live Poker Tournament

A live poker tournament, while daunting, is an experience you’ll never forget. Whether you’re placed at a table with speech play enthusiasts or surrounded by sullen poker faces exchanging glances, at a live poker tournament you’re sure to experience a sea of emotions.

However, while learning how to bluff and sending shifty glares can be fun, it shouldn’t be top priority at your first poker tournament. Rather, your focus should be on what you do in the seconds, minutes, hours before you pick up your first card, from finding a seat to collecting your chips. Preparation, you will find, is crucial.

So, with poker season on the horizon (WSOP, we’re looking at you) and Goliath starting on 26th July, there’s no better time to learn how to prepare for your next live tourney.

Take a look at our step-by-step guide, below.

Get to grips with your chips

It may seem straight-forward, but simply knowing where to exchange chips can confuse many first-time players. Typically, you will be able to find chips either behind the cashier’s desk, from the dealer at the table, or at the front of the room as you enter. As some tournament spaces will exchange chips in all three areas, while others will only offer them from one, it’s worth scoping out the entire floor before you find your seat.

Once you’ve got your chips and you’re ready to play, it’s time to stack ‘em up. As a courtesy to the other players, you should aim to keep your chips in neat stacks of 5, 10 or 20 chips. This makes it easy for your players to see how much is at stake, and is considered a vital element in many no-limit and pot-limit games.

Take a seat, but not right away

Just like you wouldn’t walk into a table-service restaurant and find your own seat, at a poker tournament you must similarly wait your turn.

Once you’re ready to start playing, head to the front desk of the poker room and tell them which games you’re interested in. They’ll then either put you on a waiting list for when an opening comes up, or, if you’re lucky, you’ll be escorted to a vacant spot in an active game. Just remember not to wander off if your name is on the waiting list as you’ll miss your turn!

Abide by the etiquette

While you may be well-versed in what to wear to a casino, there are many more etiquette rules you need to know before going to your first poker tournament.

One of the most important rules you should adhere to is playing ‘in turn’. This literally means you wait for your turn, i.e. you let the game roll out clockwise as each player passes the turn to their left. Get distracted or ignore the rules and you could accidentally act ‘out of turn’, something which will not only exasperate your fellow players, repeated offences could see you removed from the game completely. Other features of table etiquette you should remember are: don’t throw chips into the pot (this is called ‘splashing the pot’) as it disrupts the flow of the game, and avoid peacocking moves, such as the oft-used slow-roll. This is bound to irk players and could demonstrate your lack of experience.

Now you know what to expect from your first live poker tournament, the power is in your hands. Take a look at our upcoming Goliath satellites and take our tips to the final table!









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