How to play poker at a casino?

Are you interested in playing poker at a casino but you haven’t really visited a casino site before? This article will give you advice on what to do before playing poker. In addition, you will find some general tips for casino poker.

Poker Room
Poker Room

What to do before playing poker at a casino?

1. Sign up for a particular game

The first thing you need to do is to find out how you can sign up for a particular game at that casino.  

Most poker rooms have a place to sign a waiting list for a particular game. Some have a white board with the games and limits available along with the waiting players’ initials. Others will just have someone who writes initials or names on a sheet of paper.

Example of a wait list
Example of a wait list

Simply ask whoever is in charge of the board – or a staff member – to place you on the list for all of the games you would like to play. If you are in a small poker room with no visible sign-up area, ask a dealer how to enter a game.

Or you can just find the poker room number on the Internet, and call to put your name on the waiting list before you leave for the casino. Usually the poker room will allow one hour between the time you call and the time you arrive at the casino to check in.

2. Tips for what to do if you have to wait

After you check in and there’s still a large waiting list, we advise you to do the following things:

  • Learn the Rules 

Familiarize yourself with the particular poker room’s rules. Most, if not all, poker rooms have their rules posted somewhere in the vicinity. Every room will have different rules so it’s always a good idea to look over the rules and avoid surprises.

It sounds funny, but if you’re a real beginner at poker and only played in home games, it might be worth it to have a quick refresh of the poker hand rankings.

  • Get Your Own Chips

To save time you can go to the casino treasury yourself and get your chips. You may choose to wait until you are at the table and then give your money to the dealer or a chip runner but it will just take longer. So while you’re waiting, just get your chips yourself.

Casino treasury or 'cage'
Casino treasury or ‘cage’
  • Be attentive

Your name will most likely be called over a PA system. If you miss your name getting called you’ll be taken off the list. So make sure you listen!

When you hear your name, report to where you checked in and they’ll show you to your seat.

General tips for casino poker

  • Wait for the big blind (The big blind is the largest forced bet at the beginning of a game designed to stimulate betting. The player who has to contribute the big blind rotates one position to the left after each game.) to get to you before playing. Use this time to watch your opponents, and get a feel for the way they are playing. It’s amazing how much some players reveal if you just pay attention.
  • Always Call Out Your Action. This will make the game infinitely easier for you and everyone else at the table. There are so many situations that arise that would never happen if everyone just called their action. So get in the habit now.
  • Act when it’s your turn. Never act before your turn. This is a very bad manner and can change the outcome of a hand. The other players will understandably get upset with you.
  • Make sure your cards are visible and protected. It is a good idea to place a chip on them to show that they are still live and protect them because the dealer won’t take them when the chip is on them. If you leave your cards unprotected, the dealer might muck them (mix with discards) by mistake, and there is no way you can retrieve them. Most players keep their hand on their cards.
  • Arrange Your Chips into Stacks of 20. This makes betting much easier. A stack of twenty $1s is $20; a stack of twenty $5s is $100; etc. Stacks of 20 make the game run smooth as silk.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you’re not sure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask the dealer or other staff members. It is important to have all the necessary info to feel as comfortable as possible.

What to do when you win a pot?

  • When you win a pot (the total amount of money bet in a single game), don’t reach for it. Let the dealer push the pot to you. Do not surrender your cards until the pot has been awarded to you on a winning hand.
  • Most players tip the dealer when they win a pot. This is not required, but if the dealer is doing a competent job, you should tip. Dealers are like waitstaff in that they make most of their money from tips. A sample plan would be to tip the dealer .50 on average size pots and possibly $1.00 on larger pots if the dealer is doing a good job. Also, you can watch what the other players are tipping to get an idea. Remember though that every dollar that goes to the dealer is reducing your winnings. You should be able to come to a happy medium with experience.


If you are a passionate poker player and have played only with your friends for fun, follow the above mentioned tips and you’ll have a good start. Every beginning is challenging, but don’t worry, you”ll learn a lot of new things on the go.