The short answer on how you keep track players is that you don't. I've played regularly at my local casino for a couple of years, and it's only half the time I know anyone at a table, and usually thats only 1 or 2 players. You don't have a good way to track players (can you imagine how many guys you would have to describe as "overweight, middle-aged basball cap guy"?), so you have to rely on your memory for regular players.
The best advice I can give is from my own experience - play slowly and cautiously for the first two revolution/orbits. Get a feel for the table. Within 16 hands, I can name you all the Maniacs, TAG's, calling stations and tilts at a table with certainty. You get a lot more signals and information live than online - use that to offset the lack of hand history in your arsenal.