12 Tips for Making the Move Between Table Games and Poker

Poker Cards and Chips on Left and a Roulette Table on Right

While the poker boom may be behind us, I regularly bump into players making a move to poker from the table games. Many of these gamblers have taken notice of the difference between the games that always take your money and the ones that give you a shot at winning.

Since more players feel comfortable at a poker table than filling the role of a card counter, the poker rooms stay full of new players. Although many of these gamblers are new to poker, they are hardly casino rookies.

Still, they may not be up to speed on the differences between playing in the casino and what’s expected at the poker table. Here are 12 tips for making a move between table games and poker.

Understand the Difference Between Chance and Skill

If you’re making a move from table games to poker, you may be looking to impart skill to gain an edge. Casino games are primarily based on pure chance.

The game follows a path where occasional strategy may be involved, but ultimately, your skill can’t overcome the house edge. Games of skill give players a legitimate shot at winning, but you’ll need enough talent.

Because you’re competing against the other players at the table, your skills will always be relative. When you play against players with less skill, you’ve got a tremendous advantage.

However, when the competition has the upper hand, you could be in trouble.

Learn to Play Poker to Your Lowest Comfortable Level

Before you ever head for the casino poker room, it’s vital that you assess your own goals. This will give you a baseline on which to judge your preparedness to tackle the casino poker games.

If you merely wish to enjoy a game that allows you to control your own destiny and losing is an acceptable result, you can become a proficient enough poker player in a pretty short time.

Yet, if you prefer to win money during your gaming sessions, you’ll need to spend more time developing your poker acumen.

Learn to play poker at your lowest comfortable level before playing for real money. Otherwise, you’ll be damaging your bankroll until you’re ready and having to play catch up.

Find the Games That Give You the Best Value

Once you’re ready to launch your poker career, it’s time to find the best tables. This likely isn’t a completely foreign task as many savvy casino gamblers scout casino table games looking for the best rules.

What you’re looking for here is value. And in poker, value is the opportunity for you to make the most cash. You make money by playing against lower-skilled players, so finding the fish is your primary objective.

Poker Room at Derby Lane

Yes, by all rights, you’re most likely still a fish yourself. However, by putting in some work to become an adequate player, you’ve put yourself ahead of much of the competition.

Besides, being one of the best players at a table full of fish is typically going to be more profitable than being the best player at an elite table.

Go pick off the fish, but always be on the lookout for the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Don’t Try and Work the Angles

The etiquette in the poker room is an essential aspect of everything that’s happening. There’s a sense of honor amongst poker players. Any breaches of etiquette can be chalked up to being a newbie approximately 0.7 times before the veteran players become weary of you.

As a poker rookie, making the rest of the table angry will lead to a highly challenging day for you. Don’t intentionally cross any lines or attempt to gain any undue advantages through shady tactics.

One of the worst crimes you can commit at the poker table is trying to catch a glimpse of an opponent’s hole cards. I’ve watched fights nearly break out over a player peaking at an opponent’s hand.

Work the cards, work your opponents, but don’t work angles.

Always Watch Every Move at the Table

In the casino, it’s easy to lose interest when you’re not in a hand or it’s not your turn to act. Most table game players are in the habit of making their move and then simply zoning out.

That may be fine when you’re playing blackjack, and the other players have no impact on your total wins or losses. Yet, in the poker room, the other players are constantly allowing you to gain an advantage.

You need to develop the habit of watching every move made at the poker table. That discipline will make you a better poker player and lead to bigger wins.

Muck Your Cards When You Fold

When you decide to get out of a hand, you need to do so in a tasteful manner. Once you’re out of a hand, you mustn’t have any further influence on the game.

So, you must muck your cards whenever you fold a hand. Showing the cards to players still in the hand could have devastating consequences for one of the competitors.

Always strive to act with the highest level of integrity and decorum in the poker room. Your fellow players and the dealer will appreciate the effort.

Don’t Intentionally Slow the Game by Taking Excessive Time to Act

Once you’ve got an opponent beat, don’t slow roll your hand in some grandiose dramatic gesture. You’re not impressing anyone. I blame the proliferation of televised poker for this move. A player pushes an opponent all-in, and the opponent shows their cards.

Seeing that they are a 100% lock on the hand, the player refuses to flip their cards over and keep the opponent on the string a bit longer. This is considered weak at best in most gambling circles.

Venetian Las Vegas Poker Room

When you start making clown moves at the poker table, you’d better be ready to have your feelings hurt. Most better players won’t appreciate your games and try to knock you out.

If You’re Out, Stay Out

When you decide to get out of a hand, that’s where you should stay. The players still involved don’t need any of your commentaries and especially won’t appreciate any comments relating to the hand you folded.

Any actions you could take that may influence a hand with which you’re no longer involved should be wholly avoided. Not only should your silence apply to the players still in the hand, but also any sidebar conversations with other players who have folded.

Avoid Calling Time on Opponents

Some decisions are more challenging than others, and one decision could change everything in the poker room. So, I suggest you show a little grace and avoid calling time on any of your fellow competitors.

Calling time on an opponent will generally have the dealer put the player on the clock. In my experience, the entire situation does little more than further slow down the game.

If you put a player on the clock for one lengthy decision, you had better believe they won’t be sending you a Christmas card. They’re likely to actually begin playing excruciatingly slow to make their point.

Even when a player has been slow to act all night, let the dealer do their job. It’s much better for the person responsible for running the game to speed a player along.

Act Like You’ve Been There Before

From the minute you take your seat until you get up to leave, treat every person in the poker room with grace and respect. Having a reputation as a gracious loser and a kind winner will give others the best impression of you.

So, be the player that makes a positive influence in the poker room whether you’re winning or losing. The other players and dealers will appreciate your attitude, and you’ll probably be well-liked among your contemporaries.

Don’t Be a Sore Loser

Being a sore loser is one of the most significant jackass moves you can make in the poker room. Losing is a mindset, and when a player flies off the handle over what they call a “bad beat,” it indicates an underlying flaw.

You’re going to lose pots that the numbers dictate you should win. That’s because a 98% hand will still lose two out of 100 times.

Blackjack Table with Cards and Casino Chips, Angry Man with Arms Crossed

Complaining about your bad beats is a sign that you lack a fundamental understanding of poker. It also shows that you’re a giant baby that can easily be emotionally unhinged.

That’s a lot more information than I’d want any of my poker opponents to have against me.

You Shouldn’t Give Unsolicited Advice

On the casino floor, it’s not uncommon to hear one player giving another advice. Sometimes, the novice player will ask for some help, and others—a veteran gambler—will merely try to help the rookie out.

In the poker room, you should keep your advice to yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s between hands, in the middle of a hand, or before a single card is dealt.

Any advice you give could give other players insight into how you approach the game or show how little you understand about poker. Furthermore, any direction during a hand will seriously irritate many of the other players.

Keep your mouth shut and observe any time you can.


Switching things up in the casino can have an extraordinary impact on your gambling successes. These 12 tips for making a move between table games and poker will help you make the most of your new venture.

More often than not, merely staying out of the way can help you blend in and look like you know what you’re doing.