Playing at the Hippodrome’s PokerStars LIVE in London

Hippodrome London

In the bustling West End area of London in Leicester Square stands the Hippodrome casino, which holds in its belly cash poker games courtesy of PokerStars.

The Hippodrome is a non-member walk-in casino, so there is no need for ID unless you look a little underage, then it is best to carry identification to prove you are over 18. The doormen are friendly, but will probably not let you in if you are drunk, and also you should look reasonably smart, so no caps, but trainers are fine.

As you walk in to the casino there is plenty of action going on with Slots, Blackjack and Roulette right in front of you. To get to the poker tables you will need to swing a right after you walk through the foyer, leading up to the casino floor and take the lift to the 4th floor where all the PokerStars LIVE action is on the go.

There are around 8 tables with 9 seats at each table and it is usually pretty popular, meaning you should get there early to get an early seat. You can change cash into chips on the poker floor, and the chips are valid for play anywhere in the casino. At the same time you will be added to a waiting list and you will need to check the screen for when it is your turn to sit down. If there is spare table and 7 or 8 players are standing around, the casino will open up a new table and provide you with a dealer.

When you buy-in the £1/£2 are the most popular stakes playing No-Limit Hold’em. There are higher stake games, but usually they are opened on request. Also, the Pot-Limit Omaha tables are available on request, with at least one table on the go or waiting to get enough players to sit down, which doesn’t take too long. There will be a screen showing the names waiting to open up an Omaha table and during that time you can sit down at the Hold’em tables until the Omaha table opens up at £1/£2 blinds.

When you sit down you need to change up some chips into blue £1 chips, and when you cash out, you will need to give these back to the dealer. All other chips such as £5, £10 and £25 can be changed for cash, where you originally bought the chips.

Sitting down at the tables, you will notice the play is easy going and the standard is very mixed. The betting can get quite high, so you will need to buy-in for at least £100, but £200 is a safer amount as the raising gets quite aggressive on some hands. The minimum buy-in is £50, but this really isn’t enough.

The play is smooth and easy at the tables, and the dealer will give you some direction if you are not sure how to play. One thing to be very careful of is string betting. You need to announce if you are going to bet or raise and then say how much you plan to bet or raise. You can also just announce a raise and place the number of chips you wish to raise in one smooth action.

Whatever you do, don’t lay down a few chips at a time in a string or you will be told to take back the subsequent bets. As a result of this, only the first set of chips you placed in the middle will count as your bet. This can severely ruin your play and disrupt the flow and annoy your fellow table foe!

Another word of warning is don’t say ‘Sorry’ for winning chips. Poker players are a wily bunch, and they don’t like people apologising for taking their chips. Other things to be careful of is slowing down the game. Make sure you are aware of when it is your turn, plus when you need to pay the big and little blinds. Not only will you annoy the dealer, but you will also annoy the other players if you have to be constantly reminded.

Lastly, tips to the dealer are not uncommon, but also they are not mandatory. If you lose, then there is no need to tip, but if you win, then it is good manners to tip over a few pounds when you stand up to leave the table. You may see some players tipping every hand they win, but this is not necessary and it is completely up to you if you have the money to give away.

Overall, the poker play at the PokerStars LIVE is very professional and a lot of fun. The dealers are friendly, and the play accommodates all levels of players. You need to make sure you brush up on a few poker rules, such as being aware of how string betting can affect your play and watch out as you may find yourself patronising your opponents. Besides these few points, the atmosphere is great with a buzzing vibe to the casino, as well as on the poker floor, and I fully recommend PokerStars LIVE for a good night of live poker!