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How to play poker in a casino

Get started playing poker in casinos

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A sign-up board at a poker room in a casino

A sign-up board at a poker room in a casino

(c) Toby Bochan
If you've never played poker in a casino, it may seem intimidating compared to a night at your home game, but not to worry! Once you sit down at your first casino poker table, you'll realize it's not so different and you'll be raking in the chips before you know it. Here's how to get started!

Step 1: Get on a list
The first thing you're going to need to do is to sign up on the queue or list for a game with the poker host or manager. There will be a podium in almost every casino poker room where there's a list either on a board or, more likely, on video monitors that list every game going on and who is waiting to sit down. If you're not sure where to go, just ask a waitress or any other casino employee. They will point you in the right direction.

Once you locate the sign-up area, you can ask if any games are "open" or have seats and they'll let you know -- otherwise you'll want to sign up on the list for a few games. They should have a list of what kinds of games -- you'll always find Hold'em, but there maybe games of Omaha or Seven-card stud too. They'll also list the limits, or betting amounts, for each game and whether it is a limit or no limit game. For your first outing, it's probably best to stick to the lowest limit tables, which will likely be a $1/2 no limit hold'em game or a $2/4 or $3/6 limit hold'em game. The lists might use abbreviations for the games so read up on poker abbreviations here.
Give the poker host your initials and tell him which lists you'd like to be added to and voila! You're done.

Step 2: Buy your chips
While you're waiting for your initials to be called, it's a good idea to find the cage and get some chips. The people working the cage know just what kind of chips you'll need for your game so you can just tell them you are buying into a $1/2 no-limit game or a $3/6 limit game and they will give you the right chips. I recommend buying $100 for either of these games, but you can also check what the minimum buy-in is with the poker host and get that amount. If you do need more chips, you can always buy more at the table, but most places prefer that you sit down with chips instead of holding up the game and getting your first buy-in at the table.
The exception to this rule is if they call for a brand-new game or table. Then they usually will have a dealer sitting there with racks of chips you can buy. And many casinos have chip-runners who will get your chips for you. All that said, there is never a downside to having your chips already.

Next up: Sitting down and playing poker in a casino

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