You’re absolutely right, Interrobang, it is a catch-22. That is why you have to accept the fact that you are going to lose money while you’re game gets better. Which backs up the idea that you should not play for more money than you can lose. Once you walk in knowing you are going to be leaving with $100 less, it helps with the nerves also. And if the people you are playing with see you are nervous, they’ll be able to read you like a book.
I’ve never played in the Pugent Sound area, but I imagine the games are pretty much the same everywhere, so I’ll try and give you a little idea what it is like.
When you go in, head first to the guy with the microphone. You can’t miss him. He’s the guy who is in charge of seating people. Tell him what kind of game you want to play and the stakes. He’ll give you an idea about how long it will be until you play. He can also help you get your chips. Generally, I try to get 50 times the blind when I sit down. Thats generally $150 in a 3-6 game, or $200 for a 4-8 game, $250 for a 5-10. It should give you enough of a cushion that you will be comfortable enough so that you aren’t playing too tight (i/e too stingy) or too loose (chasing iffy hands). But that’s just my prefrence.
If there are other higher limit games going on, most low-limit hold 'em players are of two types: People like you who are learning or maybe there just for fun, and people who don’t have a larger bankroll (mostly retired, older people). However, if there is only a couple tables open, you’re more likely to have better players playing under their roll to pass some time until the 10-20; 20-40 games start. Watch out for those guys. I generally spend a couple rounds playing really tight while I try and see how the other players are playing. Then, I may loosen up a bit.
The first casino hold em game was quite a nerve-racking experience, even though it was just a 3-6 game. I played way too tight, so I was very easy to read. But that was fine by me, I was there to learn and experience, not make money, so it didn’t matter to me if they knew I was only playing the nuts.
The thing that amazed me the most about poker rooms is that there are quite a few people who are jerks. I had always pictured a table of 10 guys, all behaving themselves, maybe quietly talking, but all being considerate. I was surprised when a couple players got into a vicious argument when one insulted the other.
Anyway, have fun, and good luck! Let us know how it goes.