Secrets from the Felt

Our Poker Power instructor Amrutha Alladi shares her secrets, to help set you up for in-person playing success. 
woman's hand holds poker chips on table with Poker Power grid

If you’re nervous about taking your poker playing from your mobile to the felt, fear not! Our Poker Power instructor Amrutha Alladi shares her secrets, to help set you up for playing success. 

Key Differences

Going from learning online to playing poker in-person, there are some key differences to make note of. For one, there’s more stimuli when you’re playing in real life than online—from counting chips to picking up physical tells from your opponents. Below are some key differences I’ve noticed.

The Pot

One big difference between playing online and in-person is that there is no pot count tracker; you’ll have to keep track of how many chips are in the pot. Additionally, you’ll have to keep count of not only your chips but also getting a sense of how many chips the other players have. Keep in mind, the total amount of chips everyone has is often not as important as understanding roughly how many big blinds they have.


When you’re playing online poker the information you gather about your opponent may be more limited to bet sizing or timing. Whereas in-person, there’s an array of information to gather from your opponent in addition to bet sizing. For example, the common tell ‘weak is strong and strong is weak’ occurs when an opponent tries to disguise their hand by acting contradictory to the type of hand that they have. I was excited to watch this happen in-person. I was playing at a $1/$2 cash game, and while I wasn’t in the hand, I noticed that player 1 placed a sizable bet but then began saying how his hand wasn’t great, and began acting “weak.” When player 2 finally called and player 1 showed their hand—it was a strong hand; winning the pot. Regarding tells and gathering information: it’s important to observe how a player normally acts during a hand because if there are situations when their actions deviate from their normal, you’ll have more information when making your next move.

Tipping the Dealer

One area that I had not thought about previously was tipping the dealer. I’ve noticed that at the lower stake cash games  when a person won the pot, they would tip the dealer $1 chip. I did some research on tipping in cash games and the answer depends on who you ask. Some may tip the dealer on pots that they win or if the dealer was great at moving the game. Others will not tip the dealer because it may affect one’s win rate – also, casinos pay their dealers while taking a rake from the winnings. A rake is a commission that the casino takes from each pot, usually between 2-10%. If you wish to tip at a low level-game (i.e. $1/$3 blinds), $1 or $2 on a very large pot is common and accepted.


One fun difference between online and in-person poker is the atmosphere in the room and energy at the table. Some tables are loud with conversation. Other tables like the ones I was at were relatively quiet— with some occasional chatter. Time to time, servers will walk around and ask if anyone wanted a drink—this varies from poker room to poker room. The options range from water and soda to alcoholic beverages. While it’s not expected, it is encouraged to tip them $1 chip when getting a drink. 

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