The lucky card protector has been packed. The plane fare and hotel room have been booked, and your bags are ready. Whether you’re headed to a chic Las Vegas Strip casino resort or going more old school in downtown Sin City, there’s a poker cash game or tournament for every level of player. Your hopes are high for a juicy cash game or a deep tournament run.
Many players long for a trip to Vegas to mix it up at the tables and test their skills. Knowing what you’re getting into and what to expect will help make that trip an even better experience.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when you jump on that aeroplane for your next trip:
The 7 tips for playing poker in Las Vegas for the first time are:
#1 – Know Your Limits
When looking for a cash game, stay within your limits at the tables. Just because you’ve made the trip to Las Vegas doesn’t mean you have to go nuts when it comes to the cash game stakes you plan on playing.
As Tim Allin notes here in 888poker magazine: “The more buy-ins, the better.”
He adds: “Even good players can end up going on prolonged downswings, and a good bankroll management strategy should be able to absorb those swings.”
That’s undoubtedly true and blowing your whole bankroll by playing above your limits can make for a pretty miserable Vegas trip. Be smart with your game and with your cash.
For tournament players, there is something for everyone in Las Vegas and players can easily find a tournament that fits their bankroll. In fact, 888poker has even done the work for you.
Here’s a quick look at regular tournaments around town at various casino poker rooms, ranging from a couple of twenty-dollar bills to a few hundred bucks.
Bring your A-game, and you just might walk away a winner.
#2 – Be Prepared
That famous Boy Scout motto applies for your next visit to the tables in Las Vegas. There are numerous ways to study and work on your skills and strategies before buying into a cash game or tournament at the Aria, Bellagio, or Golden Nugget.
Whether you play online (at 888poker.com of course), study poker online, discuss hands with friends, subscribe to a poker training site, or read a book, it’s essential to understand the basics and have a grasp of some sound, fundamental card playing.
888poker can even be a great learning tool, with numerous strategy articles and guides on improving your game. Checking out some poker advice and the countless different theories on poker and how to play different hands can only add to your poker tool kit.
Looking for some helpful guides to help with your game?
Here are just a few you may want to check out:
- The Mental Game of Poker
- Poker Bluffing Guide
- Mastering the Fundamentals of Texas Hold’em
- Win Bigger River Pots with this Overbetting Strategy
- The Ultimate Guide to Re-Raising in Poker
Bringing those skills to the table not only helps with a player’s in-game play but also adds to one’s level of confidence. Feeling good about your poker knowledge and then putting that into practice while in Las Vegas will go a long way toward producing winning sessions or tournament scores.
#3 – Know Who the Sucker Is
An old poker saying that also appears in the movie Rounders:
“If you can't spot the sucker in your first half-hour at the table, then you are the sucker.”
Those famous words were uttered by Matt Damon’s character Mike McDermott as he considered casting aside a possible legal career for a shot at poker success in Las Vegas. Those words certainly apply for players looking for success at the tables.
It’s good to know who the weaker players are at the table – the “suckers.” Look for shortcomings in their game and determine how you can take advantage.
With tighter players, it might be worth being more aggressive against and mixing in regular raises and three-bets. Isolate on the weaker players and work to exploit them and separate them from their chips. This strategy goes for tournaments and cash games as well.
Also, look for leaks in their game and tells that might help you learn the strength of their hand. Paying attention to bet sizing can also be an important factor both in your betting and how it might give away the strength of an opponent’s hand and possible bluffs.
On the other side, if everyone else at the table appears to be a shark (see No. 7 below), there’s a good chance that you’re the sucker at the table.
Know what you’re getting into and be ready to look for greener pastures somewhere else.
#4 – Bring a Good Attitude
Attitude is everything. Bringing a poor state of mind to the tables can be bad for your return on investment. A loser’s lament will often produce a losing session. Obviously, no one can always be a winner, but staying positive and in the proper mindset can go a long way. Even after a losing session, it’s nice to know that you still played well and have a good shot at a return on investment the next time you take a seat.
Beyond bringing the right attitude into the game, it’s important to roll with the punches. Don’t let bad beats or tilt get the best of you – your game will suffer in the long run.
Readers of 888poker magazine should know this already. When players who “let a negative outcome sour their attitude and anger or fear take control, they’re much less likely to make sound, strategic decisions.”
That last session may have been in the red but stay focused and determined so that the next one will come out in the black.
#5 – Join the Club
When playing poker or gambling at a casino, the players club is certainly worth joining. Players may earn some free play in the process, but can also earn comped rooms, meals, and other merchandise as they battle it out at the tables. The process is simple and usually only takes a few minutes.
Then simply present your card when buying into a cash game or table. Poker usually doesn’t earn as many reward points as other table games or slot machine play, but players will still rake in some rewards for their action. Vegas meals can undoubtedly be expensive, so a nice comped meal at the steakhouse or sushi bistro can be a nice reward and keep some dollars in your wallet.
Another advantage of joining the players club is that the casino may send regular promotions. That could include some excellent room rates for that next trip to Las Vegas.
Saving on your Vegas vacation will mean more money for that poker bankroll.
#6 – Too Much Booze Can Mean You Lose
Imbibing in a nice beer or cocktail is part of the fun for many making the trip to Las Vegas. Casinos offer free drinks, and the city seems to specialise in mixing in some drinks to the entertainment.
Players have been known to sip a beer or a drink at the tables to take the edge off or help fight off some nervousness. Some players prefer a nice glass of wine, and Phil Hellmuth is famous for his celebratory bottles of Dom Perignon.
However, a few too many drinks can be bad for your game and even worse for your bankroll. Many players have seen other players drunk at the tables, and it’s not a pretty sight. These players can become loud, abrasive, and obnoxious. Furthermore, drinking like a fish can have you looking like a fish. The drinks may be free but can be costly to your poker game.
As with anything, drink in moderation and mix in some bottles of water to stay sharp. Get some rest and come in ready to roll but know when you’ve had enough for one session.
Your bankroll will thank you for it.
#7 – Watch Out for Sharks in the Water
Many poker players head to Sin City as the best player in their home games and think raking chips will be just as easy. That’s not always the case. Obviously, you want to bring your best game, but some players in Vegas live for gamblers on vacation looking to jump in a big cash game.
The sharks will circle, and a player may find a big bite taken out of his bankroll. As mentioned above, find a game that best fits you. Be realistic about your skills and what level you’re willing to jump into playing.
Play with your optimal skills but be willing to ask for a table change or to get up and find another place to play. A poker cooler is one thing, but being outmatched at the tables is another.
If you play well in the $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em game back at your local casino, it’s probably not wise to save up and then jump in a $10/$20 at the Aria as soon as you land in Las Vegas.
Be smart and budget accordingly.
Slow and steady wins the race, and that can go for poker in Las Vegas as well.
A Vegas weekend with some friends for some poker and a good time can make for a great gambling getaway. Be prepared and know what to expect and, hopefully, that trip to the poker tables can turn out to be a winner.