Casino Poker Strategy

Casino Poker Strategy

Casino poker may seem frightening if you’ve never played it at home, but don’t panic! You’ll soon be winning chips at your first casino poker table. Start here!


Sign up for a game with the poker host or manager first. Nearly every casino poker room has a podium with a board or TV monitors listing all games and players waiting to seat down. Ask a waiter or casino employee for directions. They’ll guide you.
After finding the sign-up location, inquire whether any games are “open” or have seats. If not, sign up for a few games. You’ll find Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-card stud. They’ll also identify each game’s betting limits and whether it’s limit or no limit. The lowest limit tables, such as $1/2 no limit hold’em or $2/4 or $3/6 limit hold’em, are optimal for beginners.

Give the poker host your initials and which lists you want to join, and voilà! Finish.

Buy Chips

Find the cage and receive chips while waiting for your initials. Tell the cage staff you’re purchasing into a $1/2 no-limit or $3/6 limit game and they’ll give you the proper chips. For any game, I recommend $100, but you may also ask the poker host for the lowest buy-in. You can buy more chips at the table, but most venues prefer that you sit down with chips instead of holding up the game by buying your first buy-in.

Unless they need a new game or table. Then a dealer will sell chips. Many casinos have chip-runners. Having your chips already has no negative.

After joining the poker room line, the fun begins.


If you desire that seat, tell the poker host to “lock it up” when your initials are called. He’ll show you your table, and the dealer will tell you which seat is yours (the one without a player or chips).
If you wish to “post”—put in the big blind and play the next hand—the dealer will ask. I suggest not playing until the big blind arrives. It will let you adjust and observe before diving in.

After posting the first huge blind, you’re playing casino poker.

Remember Poker Etiquette and Rules

Once you’re in the game, you’ll want to observe all the poker etiquette standards you’d follow at home, but you’ll pay greater attention to ones you might skip at home:

  • Raise by saying “raise.” No string bets.
  • Fold clearly and push your cards to the dealer.
  • Casino poker is always played for table stakes, meaning you cannot bet more than your chips. Check before presuming $100 bills on the table play in some casinos.
  • Tip. Tips sustain poker dealers and waitresses. Read about tipping poker dealers.
  • Avoid phone calls at the table. Most casinos prohibit it as disrespectful.

Breaks and Bedtime

If you’re not in a hand, you can get up to take a call, use the restroom, or clear your thoughts. Rise slowly. If you miss your blinds, you’ll return to a token telling you to post your blind or wait until the big blind reaches you to rejoin the game.
Tell the dealer to deal you out and depart if you’re done playing for the night. Play for 10 minutes or 10 hours—you decide.