Most online grinders have a tremendous advantage against the average casino poker player. When you play online, you see 2-3x as many hands per table. (Multiply that by the number of tables you’re playing!) 

  • So, you will have experienced an enormous library of hands, decisions, and play styles. 
  • Not to mention the fact that the competition tends to be savvier -- and more aggressive. 
  • It’s easy to click buttons and pull moves from behind a screen. 

AQ facing a reraise from an OMC (old-man-coffee) in a casino? Easy fold. But online, the same hand can feel like the nuts.

Computers tend to train better poker players. But which skill are they not good at improving? 

Their Game. 

No, not preflop raise charts or mathematical probabilities - we mean “game” in the traditional sense – coolness, finesse, suave. 

There is a difference between being genuinely slick and knowing how to play a hand like AK. (Big slick, get it?)

Why You Should Avoid Looking Like a Grinder

There is nothing more uncool in poker than looking like a “grinder”. Someone who “grinds” away playing hours and hours, monotonously squeezing out a win. 

  • You generally don’t want people to know that you’ve extensively studied the game.
  • You don’t want to advertise that you play better than average. 

Many people will avoid playing pots with you. They could be spooked that you are going to take all their money. Even more likely, just won’t sit down at your table in general. No one wants to feel hunted.


Fun recreational players want to be up against other fun, recreational players. You can’t blame them. Poker at a casino is an exciting night out for many people, a unique way to socialise.

So, the environment and atmosphere are imperative. If the party dies, so do the profits.

At the beginning of Amanda Botfeld’s (the article writer) book A Girl’s Guide to Poker, she talks about “deal breakers”. One of these is game selection -- defining upfront whether or not you should even consider sitting down at a poker table. 

If you are the tenth-best poker player in the world, do not sit down at a table with the top nine. You are almost certain to lose. 

The only way to succeed long-term in poker is to play against opponents worse than you. To do so, you need to make sure they won’t decline your invitation.

Let’s check out the Top 7 helpful tips to make your transition from the virtual cash games to the live felts more seamless –

Table of Contents

#1 - Ditch the Tech

The worst thing you can do to kill the poker table vibe is sit down and immediately plug in your headphones. Amateurs and beginners rarely wear headphones. Why? The game is too novel and exciting to focus on both things at once. 

Even the most seasoned pros take off their earphones when faced with a big decision. 

  • The music makes it hard to concentrate. 
  • There’s too much to think about in-game. 
  • Listening to music signifies that you have the game on auto-pilot.

If you must listen to music, then consider only wearing one earphone. That way, you don’t appear anti-social and can still make conversation. 

It is a dead giveaway that someone is overly comfortable at a poker table when the first thing they do is put on their headphones or stare at their mobile. Pulling out your phone and texting is fine -- don’t do it in the first few minutes of sitting down. 

It communicates that you are disinterested in the game and probably do this all the time. The sooner you pull out your electronics, the sooner you let everyone know you are a regular.

  • It looks like you are unwilling or uninterested in socialising. Stop that! 
  • If you want to have swagger, you’ve got to schmooze. 
  • Or, at least, demonstrate a willingness to engage in small talk. 

Chances are, someone will begin asking you questions or including you in jokes. Roll with it! 

Don’t allow technology to mess up your mojo. 

#2 - Dress for Success

Your wardrobe can give say a lot about your poker habits. Most recreational players looking for a fun night out don’t wear hoodies and sweatpants. Most grinders do. 

Be aware that loungewear advertises you play poker all the time to the table. While it is essential to be comfortable, there is likely a more significant benefit to keeping your skill level under wraps.

Wearing the poker players’ “uniform” of hoodie + sweatpants eliminates that possibility.

An even more in-your-face “I’m a grinder!” accessory is the chip pouch. All too often, poker players arrive at the table with a coin purse full of chips. This image is a dead giveaway you practically live in the casino. 

Sure, it’s more convenient to keep chips on hand than always going to the cashier’s cage. But, if you must do this, put them in the rack before arriving at the table. It ruins the atmosphere of a friendly poker game when someone is heads-and-shoulders above the competition.

You may have heard the saying – 

  • “Better to have everyone wonder if you are a fool than open your mouth and eliminate all doubt.”
  • Better to have everyone wonder if you are skilled rather than bring out your chip bag and eliminate all doubt.

#3 - Limp a Little

When faced with a few limps, many recreational players never fold the small blind -- no matter what -- even if they have 8-2 off-suit. Playing proper poker strategy would be to fold in these situations. Doing this can be detrimental at a fun, live poker table.

  • The table energy will change.
  • You’ll sense the nervous swallows. 
  • It looks too tight and kills the table vibe.

Don’t be afraid to limp a little here and there with the intention of folding any flop where you don’t hit. It loosens up the energy a bit,

People feeling more comfortable playing with you will pay off in the long run. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Tossing in a loose chip or two here and there will go miles for your reputation and image. 

Act loosey-goosey, especially when playing in a bomb pot.

#4 - Drink!

You have to drink alcohol (don’t if it will ruin your game). But please, don’t order a hot tea before 3 AM either – something hyper-conservative players or grinders do. 

It’s as off-putting as ordering a glass of milk!

Even if you’re a teetotaller, realise what a brewsky can do for your table image. Go to the bar and order a non-alcoholic beer. Come back from the bar with a beer bottle in hand, and no one would be any the wiser!

#5 - Zip It

Ladies Event

Resist the urge to use fancy poker jargon (“3bet,” “nut-no-pair,” “triple-barrel,” and any sentence containing the word “position”). It not only gives away that you’ve researched this game but sounds incredibly nerdy. 

We’re not badgering the nerds here – it’s great being nerdy. We encourage analysing poker as much as the next person. 

Not only is it a giveaway when you speak Poker-nese, but it can also make less experienced players feel uncomfortable. 

  • Half of being cool isn’t about impressing other people.
  • It’s about making other people feel at ease.

#6 - Get Stacking

One of my favourite ways to suss out a table is by looking at how everyone stacks their chips. Remember that Daniel Negreanu line, “Everything you do at a poker table conveys information”? (Followed by, so don’t be loosey-goosey eating a sandwich!) 

He’s right. Everything - and we mean everything - is highly revealing.

You can tell a lot about someone’s personality by the way they stack their chips - 

  • Conservative, by-the-book players almost always have neat little piles in stacks of 20. 
  • More creative players tend to have imperfect stacks and often super tall towers. 
  • Drunk players have dirty stacks with chips all over the place. 

And of course, the most cringe-worthy, uncool thing to do is to put your chips into teeny, little half towers that don’t rise above the table’s edge. 

You’ve probably seen players like this - usually either penny-pinchers or newbies. 

If you want to be smooth, don’t build baby towers.

#7 - Be Nice

Crack a joke, smile. Banter is part of the game. So, come ready to make conversation. The best strategy is often to play tight, but almost never be tight-lipped. 

Have fun, relax, and don’t be afraid of people. Poker can encourage us to break out of our comfort zones.

Sometimes, we need to bluff that we are cool as a cucumber - whether we are in a hand or not. 


While these tips may seem over-the-top and fussy, they add up. Texas Hold’em is a cumulative series of decisions, and so is how you present yourself. 

The better your reputation is, the better your profit will be.

Remember: You don’t need to be Mr Cool to join in on the fun at a poker table. Just don’t do anything that makes other people uncomfortable - - namely by being too serious.

Finally, these are cash game tips. You want to create an inviting atmosphere for gamble-happy players so they don’t table-change. 

Tournaments are game-on. Sometimes it is beneficial to present yourself in a tournament as serious or intimidating. You can’t afford to limp a little and splash around your chips without rebuys! 

There is a reason why nobody straddles in a tournament: it’s a different game. 

  • Choose wisely. 
  • Dress smart. 
  • Toss the headphones.
  • Be strategic with your sandwich-eating. 

You may not want to appear too loosey-goosey.

Amanda is the author of the book A Girl's Guide to Poker, dedicated to making poker friendly and accessible to everyone. In 2021, she was a World Series of Poker final-tablist where she and her father took third place in the WSOP tag team event.