Several times since I started reading the articles in the Forum about 3 months ago, I have seen a number of posts where it was stated that the poster had never played live poker in a card room or had once or twice or was contemplating doing it for the first time. I thought since this was something I have a lot of experience with, I could share some of it if their is an interest.
I have been thinking about it for a few days and decided there is just too much for one post, so I decided I would do one and if there is interest for me to continue, I will. In this first post I am going to talk about equipment. If you have never played live you may not be familiar with all the equipment you will be exposed to when you do go for the first time or two. I think I will cover about half of the equipment in this post then can finish up with the rest in a second post . Then get into the actual differences in play. Let me know what you think.
Poker table are manufactured by several companies and some by private individuals who specialize in custom built tables made to order. There is some difference in size and a big difference in quality. Most run from 3’ 6" x 6’ 6" up to 4’ x 8’. I once had one made that was 4’ x 9’. My players loved it as they had much more room to stretch out when playing, but my dealers hated it. They had to stand up to reach the chips bet at seat 3 and seat 8. I should mention that in card rooms throughout USA, holdem and similar games are all played on a table with 10 seats as opposed to the 9 here at Replay. If you get in a tournament and draw for a seat and it says Table 12, seat 7, you need to go find table 7 which should be marked and then starting at the left of the dealer, count around to seat 7. Grab a seat cushion and a beverage holder and you are ready to go.
There are 3 variants of table top supports I will mention briefly.
The cheapest and poorest is two pedestals, one mounted at each end, about a foot and a half in from the end. They consist of a metal ring about 1’ 6" in diameter. That ring is has screw holes in it and is screwed into the bottom of the table top. It is attached to a 4" diameter pipe about 2’ 6" long. The other end of the pipe is attached to a steel ring approximately 3" in diameter. This type of support is usually wobbley and can be easily tipped over when no player sitting on a wide side. If you lean hard on it, your chips may fall into your lap;
A much better variant is a platform made of 1" heavy duty pipe welded into a platform shaped in the same oval shape as the table top and about a foot less in diameter. The table top is bolted to the top. This type is very stable. No wobble and almost impossible to tip over. Excellent support.
The best of all is a platform just like the one just mentioned with the addition of a foot rest around the bottom. It is similar to a foot rail at a bar. These are very nice for the player especially if playing a long session. The rail is about 2" in diameter and about 3" off the floor. Very comfortable to change positions when legs cramp up from sitting too long.
These are the most expensive and not found in many card rooms.
These also vary from the cheaper tables to the more expensive ones. The cheaper table tops consist of a cheap imitation felt cover and a small 3" rail. Rail is usually a soft vinyl and used as an armrest, and sits down over the outer edge of the table. A nicer table would be a better quality of felt cover and a plush 6" armrest. Another nice addition to make an even nicer top is a hardwood, hard vinyl covered chip ring. When you assemble the table , first you have the bare covered top then you set the chip ring down over the outside edge and extending onto the table and then the armrest sets down over that. When is is assembled this way, it looks just like the table we play on here at Replay. The ring is very nice for stacking you chips on it. It generally will extend out about 4" from under the armrest. Some of the very expensive tables have and recess cut into the table in front the the dealer. This is very nice for the dealer. When they belly up to the table they can see everything much better, can reach the chips bet all around the table and have better control of the cards and the pot. The trad off in this type of top is that the players in seat 1 and 10 cannot easily see each others chips, the dealer is blocking them out… Another very nice feature on expensive tables is a built in beverage holder in front of each seat. These are a round hole approximately 3" in diameter that goes through the armrest and the table top. A chrome sleeve with a lip on top slides down into the hole. It has a drainage hole in the bottom of it and nicely holds your beverage while you play. In establishments that don’t have these in table top, they will plastic beverage holders available for your drinks. These have a lip that slides in under the cushion and a plastic ring your drink sets in. They work fairly well, but are in the way sometimes when you play. Ask the dealer to have one brought to you if you don’t have one at your seat and you want one. The same is true if you want one or more cushions for you chair.
Colors, traditionally table covers came in dark green, but now are available in almost any color. many nice cardrooms have their club name and/or logo printed in the center.
Betting Lines. Some nice tables have a betting line. It is a line printed on the table about 1’ 6" in from the edge and running completely around the table. This line is used to control betting and determine bets, raises, etc. I will get more into this when we get to betting procedures at another time.
The high quality card used in poker rooms cost about 6-7 times as much as cards you would purchase in a store for a home game. There are several manufacturers to choose from. The added cost is mainly for quality control. If you inspect a deck closely that you have bought at a store, you will probably find many irregularities. The most common is the lack of precision in the image in relation to the rectangle of the card. It is easiest to see with the face cards. The line that surrounds the picture should be precisely the same distance from top and bottom and the same from side to side. I have seen some so bad that one edge of the picture was almost to the edge of the card on one side and had a 3/4" inch gap on the other.The same is true for the cards from 10 down but not as noticeable. There are many other types of errors that I wont go into here and some apply to the backs of cards.You should not see this in a card room. Some houses have their cards custom made and have their name and/or logo on the back.
Plastic cards have replaced pasteboards in almost all cardrooms today. They last longer so are more economical. Most have also gone the the bridge sized deck instead of the wider traditional poker sized decks. For the same reason.I like them better because you don’t have to spread cards so far to see what you have and is easier to protect your hand. For the same reason I like the standard size display of the card. Some card rooms are using the large font and pip cards. It is easier for the players to read them from the ends of the table, but harder to protect them from players sitting by you when looking at them.
I am tired of typing for now. If there is interest in this type of post I will continue with another at a future time. If so, will cover chairs, drop boxes, chips, buttons, card guards and card covers,and spinners. Then get into actual play.