Transitioning from the virtual realm of online poker to the vibrant atmosphere of live poker rooms can be a thrilling but challenging experience, requiring a set of strategies to thrive in this new environment.

Although poker is played the same whether you're playing with a computer or real cards and chips, there are still some big adjustments you need to make if you're making the transition from online poker to live. Here are 5 tips to help you get that right:

Tip 1: The one chip rule

If you're new to live poker, there will be rules that you’re not familiar with. One of these is the 1 chip rule.

Let’s say someone at your table raises to 400. If you throw in a single 1000 denomination chip without saying anything, this is ruled as a call.

The same is true no matter what single denomination chip is thrown in.

To make it clear what you want to do, vocalize your intentions to the dealer. Saying, "I raise to 1000" or "call" will avoid any confusion, as verbal declarations are binding.

Tip 2: Calculating the pot size

One big difference between live and online poker is that it’s up to us to calculate the size of the pot.

In online poker, as the pot increases, the software calculates and displays this for you, no math necessary!

When you play live, you get no such luxury, so it is important to keep a mental tally of the size of the current pot. This will allow you to get your bet sizes right throughout the hand.

Remember the dealers are there to help you, so if you lose count, you can ask them to spread the pot out so that you can count it up again.

Tip 3: Adjust to a slower pace

When first playing live poker, you'll notice there is a much slower pace of play compared to online poker.

This is largely because the shuffling and dealing have to be done manually by the dealer instead of automatically by the computer.

When the pace of play is slow, it can be easy to become distracted, either by your phone or by whatever sports are on the TV.

Don't fall victim to this.

Focus on what the other players are doing even when you aren't in the hand so that you can pick up on their tendencies or even their tells.

Tip 4: Know the stack sizes

When playing live, there isn't a display showing your opponents' stack sizes.

Before you play your hand, take a moment to approximate the opponents' stacks and your own, so you’re prepared for later streets of the hand.


It’s in the rules that chips must be stacked in easily countable piles of 10 or 20 where possible with the biggest denomination chips visible.

You are well within your rights to ask an opponent to sort their messy stack out - or ask the floor staff or the dealer to get it sorted out if needs be.

And remember to keep your stack tidy to avoid delaying the game when people inevitably ask you to tidy your stack up.

Tip 5: Be aware of live tells

Live tells are a big part of what separates online from live poker. Try not to worry about this too much if you're brand new to the live felt, as most people overestimate their ability to read tells.

If you're worried about giving anything away, then, when you’re active in a hand try to act consistently with all your movements.

Put your chips into the pot in the same way each time, and stare at one particular spot on the table while waiting for your opponents to act. It’ll be harder for them to get a read off of you. And DON’T be chatty when you’re in a hand.


In conclusion, transitioning from online poker to live poker requires some key adjustments. Understanding the one chip rule, calculating the pot size, adapting to a slower pace, knowing stack sizes, and being aware of live tells are essential for success. By following these tips, you can navigate the differences between online and live play and improve your performance at the poker table. Good luck in your live poker journey!

Ian Simpson is a poker pro player and 888poker ambassador. A former teacher turned professional poker player. Ian has racked up $1,132,070 in total live earnings as of July 2023. With steady in-the-money finishes since 2016, he has proven himself to be a tenacious and extremely talented poker player.