Have you ever thought about trying a poker game at your local casino?

Some players might feel apprehensive about playing in a casino for the first time. They might worry that they’ll do something ‘wrong’ or breach etiquette in some way. 

This introductory guide deals with playing poker in an actual brick and mortar casino for the first time.

How Much Money Will I Need?

It’s recommended to carry several buy-ins for the games that we like to play. For example, if we are playing a $1/$2 cash game with a buy-in of $200, it usually makes sense to carry at least $600. 

For longer sessions, it might make sense to carry more, perhaps 5+ buy-ins.

For reasons of safety, it’s probably a good idea to carry the minimum amount we need. Also, many casinos will only take cash.

It may be possible to get the cash through on-premises ATMs, but the fees will often be high. So, it’s sensible to try and source the money in advance.

What Type of Poker Games Are Offered?

What Type of Poker Games Are Offered?What Type of Poker Games Are Offered?

Unsurprisingly the most common format is No-Limit Hold’em cash games. These are usually full-ring (9-handed) games, although some casinos offer short-handed action. 

It can be worth calling a casino in advance to find out which games they offer limits.

  • The poker tables themselves will typically have a waiting list. It’s possible to join the waiting list on arrival. 
  • But it might make sense to call the casino in advance and join the waiting list. 
  • That way, you avoid waiting around for a spot to open after arriving.

It might be tempting to indulge in some casino games while waiting. But it’s worth keeping in mind that the house will always have an edge here. 

Unlike poker, it’s completely impossible to win at casino games in the long run (at least not without some extra advantage). 

How Do I Join a Poker Table?

Once our name is on the waiting list, we’ll eventually be contacted and told that the spot has opened up. 

We can proceed to our table and place our buy-in cash directly on the table. The dealer can request the floor to convert the money to chips. It’s a good idea to avoid giving cash directly to the dealer or the floor. They are often not supposed to take cash directly from players. 

  • We might prefer instead to change our chips in advance at the cashier window
  • This way, we can join the action immediately rather than waiting for the floor to get our chips for us.
  • Either option is acceptable.

When joining the action, we can either wait for the big blind or join the action immediately by posting the dead blind/s

Feel free to ask the dealer what is required to join the action. They are there to help the players.

How Does the Rake Work in a Casino?

There are few different methods that casinos employ to rake poker hands. But, in most cases, the rake is taken automatically from the pot by the dealer.

It will usually be between 2.5% and 10% of the total pot but only up to a certain amount (known as the ‘rake cap’).  Some rooms may take a fixed fee for each hand regardless of the size of the pot.

If unsure at any point, feel free to ask a member of staff, including the dealer.

What Do I Need to Know About Poker Etiquette?

What Do I Need to Know About Poker Etiquette?What Do I Need to Know About Poker Etiquette?

Here are our top 5 tips for following etiquette and keeping the other players at the table happy.

  1. Follow the Action - Acting out of turn will not only irritate other players, but it can also be a form of cheating or ‘angle shooting’. We should follow the action carefully so that we know when it is our turn to act. If unsure at any point, look at the dealer. If he is staring directly at you, it probably means it’s your turn to act!
     
  2. Don’t Splash the Pot - It’s good to keep chips neat and tidy, preferably in stacks of 20.  When making large bets, it’s good etiquette to preserve the stacks of chips wherever possible. If we send our chips flying in several directions (known as ‘splashing the pot’), it leads to time wasted stacking them again.
     
  3. Keep Chips Visible - The larger chips in our stack should be clearly visible. Players need to be able to quickly estimate stack sizes to make the best possible decisions. Our opponents might be upset if they later find that our stack is much bigger due to large chips being concealed.
     
  4. Don’t String Bet - A verbal action is binding and cannot be followed by another action. If we say the word ‘call’, we can’t then follow up with a raise. We are obligated to only call. Physical actions are binding also. If we place $100 into the pot, we can’t then raise it to $200 with another action. If we want to raise to $200, we either need to place all the chips in the pot in one motion or announce beforehand that we are ‘raising to $200’.
  1. Don’t Slowroll -  If closing the action on the river, and we have an easy call, don’t take a long time before calling. Taking a long time with an easy decision when closing the action is  ‘slow rolling’. This play can make a player unpopular quickly. Don’t confuse this move with ‘hollywooding’, which means taking a long time to act when not closing the action. This part of the game is acceptable, but don’t overdo it!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I ensure my cards are not accidentally mucked?

It’s recommended to shell out for a card protector, which we can be place on top of our hole cards. This device ensures the dealer knows that our hand is live.

Is it ok to talk at the poker table?

Is it ok to talk at the poker table?Is it ok to talk at the poker table?

Talking at the table is completely fine but be respectful when another player has a difficult decision. It’s also bad etiquette to give another player strategy advice when they are thinking about a decision. It could affect the opponent negatively

How can I avoid giving off tells?

Avoiding giving off tells takes some practice. Most new live players will be giving off particular tells without realising. It’s worthwhile figuring out how to can keep our actions similar despite the type of hand that we hold.

For example, if we only did chip tricks when our hand is weak, our opponents might figure out we have something when the chip tricks stop. 

How do I know what the chips are worth?

Casino chips will be clearly labelled with their value. So, get used to the different chip colours and what they represent. If unsure at any point, feel free to ask the dealer.

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