How Casino Poker Differs from Home Games

By Consumer Dummies

If you’ve watched a few Poker games in a card club while waiting for a seat, you’ll notice that players don’t play as many hands as they do in home games. Although there is seldom a spoken agreement to play every hand in a home game, because of the chummy atmosphere, many players simply play lots of hands. That’s not the case in a casino. Players are more selective.

Still, the biggest mistakes most players make are playing too many hands and calling on early betting rounds when they should have folded.

Tighter than home games

Low-limit cardroom games, while tighter than comparable home games, are still much too loose. In tight games, the players with the stronger hands tend to enter the pots, while in a looser game, more players enter more pots than they really should. If you simply play better starting cards than your opponents do in these low-limit games, you will usually be a favorite (favored to win money in the long run).

However, you won’t be a favorite in any game right off the mark. Because it will take you some time to get familiar with cardroom play, give serious consideration to starting in very small-limit games. You’ll probably be paying for lessons the first five or ten times you play in a public cardroom, and there is no reason to make these lessons any more expensive than they need be.

Players are more selective about the hands they play

If you come from a home game into a public cardroom, especially the fun-to-play, jam-it-up kind of home game, you quickly realize that you can’t play every hand, or even many hands, for that matter! You need standards so you know what your minimum calling hands and raising hands should be. This is true for all forms of Poker.

When you set your standards before you sit down at the table, you give yourself more time to study your opponents and to determine what makes the current hand different from similar hands you’ve seen before.

You don’t have to play every hand you’re dealt. Folding weak hands that will prove to be unprofitable in the long run is — like discretion — the better part of valor. Each form of Poker has its own set of good hands. For now, it’s enough to remember that you should fold more hands than you play.

Games are faster

The first few times you play in a casino, the speed of the games might startle you. You may also think that the players are better than your home game cronies are. But after becoming familiar with the environment, you’ll find that your skill level is right up there with your opponents’ abilities. Most of them aren’t students of the game. Recreational players want to have fun and that’s it. Most of the regulars, who run the gamut of skill levels, don’t bother to study the game. Though many of them have been playing in cardrooms for years, they simply repeat and reinforce the same errors they’ve been making for decades.

Don’t worry too much about the skill level of your opponents when you first begin playing in a public cardroom. By studying and playing the game, you should soon catch the field — begin to play as well, or better, than your opponents. And through frequent play and study, you can improve at a much more rapid rate.