I did my first shot at $1/2 casino live other night and I definitely struggled for a bit following action, calculating pot odds
, and generally finding my range and flow. I lost my first BI after a few hours but it was worth the lessons. That table was really tight for a while and mostly tight but average regs.
Just got in from my second longer session there and felt much better. There were a few times when I was once again surrounded by aggressive regs which interestingly is where I made my money from as early on it was mostly passive gamblers. . Once I realized the regs' ranges were massively wide I could get value on TPGK, cheap draws, and in two hands towards end of a 8 hr session, raked in about 3.5BI profit for the night by check -raising monsters and getting stacks in on flops and turns.
I was blown away how the casino scene for live poker really is like Rounders. There's characters, there's lots of regs who know each other, there's the stereotypical players who wear every tell like a neon sign, there's maniacs, there's nits, there's just so much to take in when you play live.
Compared to online, the swings in a session BI can be just as big but I noticed overall probably due to lower hands per hour and obviously 1 tabling that the swings themselves are less. It's much easier and more expected to reload a few BIs online, but for me live, i felt good even when my stack dropped small knowing I could use the smaller stack to build back up.
Basically in my recent limited live experience, everything you've heard is true. If you have ANY live reading ability, which I think anyone can figure out basics in just a few minutes of live play, you can quickly ID the drunk maniac, the LAG maniac, the nit/rock, the grinder, etc. And of course watch players during hands you're not in. I was amazed the loads of info. I've spent years playing micro stake home games so it was useful to have home game experience going into a casino.
I struggled the most adapting to the larger raises, and even with a 5-6x BB pre raise, expect half the table coming along usually. I struggled with reducing C-bets in position on blanked flops, with 5 players in nearly every hand, it's hard to push people off their pairs and draws. I also struggled with following action sometimes and missing out on added value because I didn't want to do the mortal sin of string bets not knowing how much I want to bet and stringing it along.
Definitely have fun, be social. I was nervous initially and even after hours I still felt like my moves were shaky when making chip moves or verbalizing a play. I had a few regs "help me" along , they read me accurately as new to live poker but over time started realizing I was trapping and using my years of knowledge to compensate. For me the appearance of being clueless because at times I was about nuances of live play was a huge edge. I ran like shit both nights most of the time, but played relatively straight forward TAG ABC poker.
Basically just adjust to higher bets and ALOT harder to isolate. There were players pushing 300-500BB stacks to isolate into 100BB pots and STILL failing to isolate. Be social but regs definitely fish for info and tells. Im studying to be a psychologist so even though I was nervous and was showing that shaky movements I knew in the back of my mind it covered my intentions in terms of value betting, check raising. Talk a little if you want but selectively. It's fine to have fun and talk but remember the regs who talk a lot are looking for info and to keep you having fun. I also noticed the regs who talked a lot about how soft, juicy things were easily picked off weak players but if you have any knowledge of poker you'll watch and notice they have wide ranges, they bully, they'll raise 7-8x pre flop "just because" and they'll absolutely run over the table in position. Identify these good but aggressive players early, it was fun chatting but even more fun to take them down a few notches with well timed traps. But don't trap much, play straight forward and someone will generally pay you something. Also some may disagree and maybe after more sessions I might change my tune, but it's ok I feel to flat call on your strong draws sometimes.
One last tip in my early transition I learned, do NOT slow play big hands unless you're in EP/MP and KNOW there's a player after you who can't resist the urge to try and steal. Pay attention and you can set up the more aggressive regs and trap them. But use it sparingly, much better to value bet and give incorrect odds then to risk a slow play that gives out free cards. Play TAG poker and only occasionally play the player not the cards at 1/2 because people WILL call with anything and everything. There will be much more betting pre flop as well and if you're below like 40BB you'll get a lot of pressure to shove/fold on flops.
If you take anything from my live "noob" response it's that if you think clearly and calm yourself a little mentally you can exploit your obvious nervousness and noob flow in the live setting . Most players won't notice, but if someone starts chatting you up and they're a reg or grinder you know you've got them tricked a bit. And take some time to adjust to the inflated bet sizes .