In the past, most poker players either got experience playing in home games or in public poker rooms. Before the turn of the century, there were no online poker sites allowing players to gather thousands of hands worth of experience before ever setting foot in a live casino.
Today’s online players will probably find themselves in a public card room eventually, whether to play in a tournament or just to satisfy curiosity. I don’t want to write about the strategy you should follow. Here we will focus only on what to do and what not to do, but just give you some tips for navigating the public card room
Identify the Floorman
Walking around the room will be one or more floormen — professionals whose job it is to make sure the games run smoothly. Hopefully you won’t need them for anything, but you can always ask them a question or ask the dealer to bring one over if there is a dispute at the table.
Get Your Name on the Board
Don’t try to just grab the first chair you see as you would online. You’ll have to put your name (usually just your initials) on a board that lists all the people waiting to play. When you hear your name called, it means there is a seat open for you.
Don’t Forget to Tip
Once of the most desirable features of online play is that there is no one to tip. Not so in a public card room.
It is customary to tip the dealer one or two dollars every time you win a pot. You’re not obligated to do so, but the dealers appreciate it and you may avoid some angry stares if you do.
Remember that you’re not playing in your living room anymore. Most card rooms don’t have a serious dress code, but you will be expected to be dressed appropriately for a public place and to be respectful of others at the table and in the room.
If you win a big pot, a small celebration is acceptable. However, jumping up and down and screaming is a little over the top. Similarly, if you lose a pot, cursing and making a scene is not appropriate, not even if you are playing the coolest tournament ever. Remember that most players are there to have a good time and act accordingly.