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A big part of what makes live cash games so engaging to me is the ability to interact face-to-face with your opponents.  Unlike most headphones and hoodie internet kids, I believe that it is very important to stay social at the poker table.  It increases your winrate because social players tend to play looser.  It also makes it more likely for you to get paid off because it loosens your table image.  Most importantly, however, it keeps you engaged and makes the atmosphere happier for everyone.  Here’s three ways to be social at the poker table.

Leave the Electronics at Home

If you’re a very introverted person, this is probably the easiest way to start out with.  So many players these days sit down at the table then immediately start texting or playing games on their phones.  Even worse, many listen to loud music through sound blocking headphones or watch movies on tablets.  Do yourself and everyone else a favor by ditching such habits.  Excessive use of electronics naturally diverts your attention from the game and makes you seem bored.

Have a Drink  

Seriously.  Drinking while playing is usually a bad idea, but there are instances where it could be +EV.  Having an alcoholic beverage immediately hints to people that you’re there to have fun, and people are more likely to be friendly and talk to you when they don’t think you’re only there trying to take their money.  You shouldn’t go out of your way to drink just for the table image, but it could be beneficial to have a beer every now and then.  Most important, however, is to never turn down a drink when offered.  Turning down drinks (unless it’s for a legitimate reason) makes you seem nitty and aloof

Talk to People

In the end, simply talking to people is the best way to stay socially engaged at the poker table.  All sorts of people play poker, and many of these people are very interesting.  It shouldn’t be hard at all to talk to others at the table.  You don’t have to be constantly conversing, but I say hi and thank you to every dealer that comes through and try to join every conversation at the table that interests me.


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ALL IN Magazine Contributor Zhijian Xing