Hi, I’m Kara Scott. I’ve been playing poker and interviewing the best poker players in the world for over 15 years. In those years I’ve been lucky enough to play a wide range of live poker tournaments – from micro stakes home games to the biggest tournaments in the world.

It’s easy to be intimidated at the thought of sitting down for a major live poker event as a newcomer, even if it’s as welcoming a festival as one of our 888lives. If you’re playing your first live tournament this year, here are 5 tips to help you feel more comfortable:



Tip 1 - Practice

The best way to feel more comfortable with something new is to practice. Home games are a great way to get used to the live mechanics of poker – when to post your blinds, what it’s like to play with antes, who acts first – all of that. Plus, home games are a fun way to hang out with friends. You can also play a bit more online and watch the flow of the game. You get a lot more hands in online than you would live, and there are always freerolls on 888poker, so as far as cheap practice goes, you can’t beat that!


Tip 2 - Find some poker friends

If you’re going to a local poker room for the first time, why not get a group together and all go? Check around and see who else might be playing a bit of poker in their spare time. You might be surprised by how many people in your life would jump at the chance of getting a few mates or family members together, setting up a last-longer bet and playing some cards. Playing live for the first time will feel a lot less intimidating if you have some support, and you’ll have someone to exchange poker stories with.


Tip 3 - Check the situation

Before you play a big live poker tournament for the first time, it can help to go to the venue early and check out the situation. This is something I always advocate for people playing the World Series main event for the first time. It can be seriously overwhelming to walk into a room with that many people playing cards. If you go ahead of time & scout it out, that’ll go a long way towards helping you feel more comfortable on the day. While you’re there, you can also scan the place for where all the restrooms are (this comes in handy when hundreds of people are all taking a break at the same time!) and check out where the closest place for coffees or food can be found.


poker table


Tip 4 - Don't talk too much

When playing a big live event for the first time, it can be common to feel a bit nervous and that can make some people super chatty. Talking to people can be a great way to help calm yourself out in the real world but in a poker game?... find something else to help you feel comfortable at the table.

Especially if you’re a new player, you don’t want to be talking a ton because you might just be giving away more information about your hands and your playing level than you want to. Also, talking a lot will distract you and keep you from watching the action and getting to know the playing styles of your opponents. Focus on the action to help you feel more relaxed at the table and don’t feel you need to bust out any fancy plays until you’ve got your head properly in the game.


Tip 5 - Don't be embarrassed

It’s important to remember, everyone starts somewhere. Even the top pros once sat down at a live poker event for the first time. Don’t be embarrassed about being new to this and do not let yourself feel intimidated. It can look a lot more intense than it really is. When I played live for the first time, I was so nervous that I’d make a big mistake, act out of turn, not know some basic rules about live poker and you know what? I did all those things. But I didn’t let it stop me from enjoying the whole experience and I learned, quickly, how to behave at a live poker table. A good rule of thumb is that other people are probably not noticing all of our mistakes in the same way we are. As Alexis Rose said, other people aren’t thinking about you the way that you’re thinking about you. Let the nerves go and have some fun. It’s a game, after all!