First Time Going to Casino

Hi RP Community,

I have been playing Hold 'Em for a couple of years, house games, usually $10-$20 buy in (with re-buys). I’ve decided that it’s time for me to try my hand (no pun intended) at a casino. I’m not going there expecting to win big, I really just want the experience, and I’m willing to lose the money (it’s expendable, I’m not a gambling addict, etc.).

With that said, I’d like to know if you have any advice for a first timer hitting the casino. I plan on playing $1/$2 NL Hold 'Em, and buying in with the minimum amount. Any advice on casino etiquette, ways to handle the new environment, potential big mistakes, common intimidation techniques I should be aware of, and cheap tricks opponents may make, would be incredibly helpful.

Thank you!

P.S. Any information concerning when the best time for an amateur to play would be (weekday, weekend, near when the tables open, near when they close, etc.) would also be very helpful.

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“Any advice on… big mistakes… at casino?”

Yeah sure. Don’t until you understand how really good you are. To do that see below:

  1. Play here and earn 15 million. This is serious. There are players who have made 15 million but I am assuming you will be serious.
  2. Watch the highest Ring game played at least four hours a week. Indeed, become a watcher.
  3. If after 1 and 2 and you know you can beat all those in 2, then you can go to the casino…
  4. Once there, play the lowest game of Texas Hold’em Limit; do not play No Limit until you have honestly logged in every trip to the casino and have won at least $2,000.
    (The logic is simple. Most players who play free poker should not bet real money. It is very hard to be a consistent winner. Earn your way up to playing No Limit Plus when you start winning Limit poker you know you have learned patience and your odds.
  5. There is usually only one limit poker game going. The good news is it is usually the lowest limit game in the card room and older widows who are on a pension, are disciplined, and are playing with disposable cash, and they love limit poker. Some will lose the $50 or $100 buy in and they will pull another $100 bill. Sit down next to her and say “I’m sitting next to you for the good luck.” This will loosen her up and you should be able to count on her.
  6. Generally speaking if you play tight and aggressive you should walk out having doubled your money in two hours or so.
  7. There are thousands of good and bad street hustlers at casinos and they will play limit because they will want the old women, your target. You need to know who they are and never go to their table. They will eat you alive, especially as you get so good you will even surprise yourself. They will spot you before you spot them when that happens. they work solo or with a shill.
  8. Variance, or luck, runs in cycles. Therefore, when you fill an inside straight, now is the time to look for one or two other deals that were “wet”, cards that flow and inter-relate with each other. That is when you push a little on hands and sets of hands. Don’t win and leave. Your goal is always lose and go. If you leave after winning a hand, then you are doing it wrong. You leave when you are coming out of a roll and you lose a tough hand.

If you play real money just 10% of the amount of time you play ere, you are addicted. Get help.

Good luck…


Location, location, location!

Look for a table that’s talking, laughing, and drinking.

Avoid tables that seem too serious… they probably are.

Tables that are having fun are less concerned with winning or losing and more focused on the social aspects. Also notice how they stack their chips. You want to be playing with people with messy chips, not with people who have everything stacked with military precision.

Laugh and joke with them. Say stuff like, 'Wow, I got lucky there, sorry." Don’t ruin their mood or they might start playing better.

Pay careful attention to who leaves and who joins. Once the table’s “complexion” changes, go have something to eat, then find another good table.

Most tables will usually have at least 1 or 2 local “semi-pros” trying to grind out a profit. Learn to quickly identify them and play them accordingly.

Never leave a table you’re crushing. Never stay at a table where you’re getting crushed. Table selection is often overlooked, but is the difference between winning and losing.

Oh, one more thing… never buyin for the minimum. Ideally, you want to have a bigger stack than anyone else at all times. When you hit that perfect hand, you want to be able to extract maximum value. You can’t do this if you’re short stacked. People need to know you can wipe them out in one hand.


One more lastest thing…

Get and study Caro’s Book of Poker Tells: The Psychology and Body Language of Poker, by Mike Caro.

Learn how to spot every one of these tells. Learn how and when to fake every one of them too. Just don’t over-do it!


Thank you very much for this thread and the answers. I played some online poker with real money but never sat down at a casino. I felt like doing it, so thank yall for the great advice.

I always found that the optimal buy-in was 100BB because usually it’s close to full stack (except on RP). Is that so also in casinos?

One advice I might give to people who like me are used to play online (multi or not multi, the pace is still waaaayyy faster online) is to be really patient and focused.

I did a live tourney recently and knew that boredom was my worst enemy still I felt that I was a bit too loose at the table. Also really pay attention when you’ve folded your hand, this is where you get the most information and this is how you get less bored.

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I think that you also really shouldn’t overthink things. You said you were willing to lose the money and are just looking for fun. If that’s what you want then by all means go ahead and play NL. The skill level at the game shouldn’t be insanely hard actually, and you definitely don’t need to do that huge process the first commenter subscribed. Additionally, frequently playing for money at a casino doesn’t make you an addict by any means. Just sit and don’t get too excited to quickly, wait for a spot, and enjoy yourself!


Also, remember on this site you can check rankings of players you are playing, but by NO MEANS, read this as a true monitor of how good a player is…remember, some people buy chips quite frequently. Use this as a very rough guide to who you are up against. Even the lowest ranking players can get great hands on the flop, so be wary. In my experience, just watch and observe patterns of play and player tactics, P.S. NEVER play when drunk!!! You will wake up with a heavy head but light on chips!!! Have fun. Buzz.

All of these players have good advice. Listen watch and don’t get over confident. Patience is the key. Don’t play every hand. If you don’t have to pay a blind (free ride) and you have bad cards toss them. If they’re good hold 'em. If you’re in ‘the zone’ the cards talk to you. Remember high cards don’t always win. A pair of Aces are great but they can be beat by a pair of 2’s with a pair of 3’s. eg FLOP: A 2 3
You have an Ace, I have a 2 and a 3…another person might have 4 5 who is going to win? The guy that gets an Ace on the turn and another on the river…4 of a kind lol likely? That’s why it is a gamble. At a full table (9 players) typical casino ring game…You only use half the deck. 9 players x 2 hole cards each =18 + 5 community cards (Flop,tur,river) + don’t forget at a real game there are 3 burn cards…1 before the flop 1 before the turn and 1 before the river so 18 + 5 + 3 = 26 half the deck. On replay poker you don’t see the dealer burn those cards that a dealer at the casino does. Many tips so little time.
Play 2/4 limit have at least twice the buy-in of 20.00 and see how long you can hang with that. I hung for 5-1/2 hrs one night with a 20.00 buy in. That is when you know you’re playing the right cards. Don’t get miffed if you fold say 7 2 then 7’s and 2’s come up on the flop.
I’ve folded sm pocket pairs after a seemingly dismal flop ie 2 2 the flop is 10 Q A I fold then the turn is a 2 the river is a 2 don’t get discouraged by that. It’s a trick the devil plays on you when you fold a weak hand. If you call with weak cards, the cards rarely fall in your favor…they usually fall once you’ve folded. Am I right? I play at Commerce Casino minutes south of East L.A. the largest poker Casino in the world. I do know what I’m talking about.
Good luck…get out there and experience. Some amount of driver training is going to help you but you learn fast when you get behind the wheel. nuff said for now.

ya im new to poker and rules. I see some hands with smaller pairs and connecting with other pairs on the flop turn or river winning over better cards. can someone please explain

Some of this advice is just plain terrible.

How good, or bad, you are on a play site never, ever, EVER matters when it comes to playing live in a casino. Yes, some skills sets involving patience and discipline would seem to count, but even they don’t since players on free play sites are practicing those skills against the skill sets of other free-to-play players.

Earning a million, a hundred million, or even a billion million chips on a free sites means squa-douche.

Thinking it does will just mean you will assume you know things you don’t, that you are better than you are, and even worse, will jade your ability to read opponents.

Instead, follow this easy recipe for your first time.

1.) Pick the game you are most familiar with in the style you find the most enjoyable (i.e. tournament or cash game). Limit or No Limit are a matter of personal taste.

Do not worry about “rake” or “sharks” or what have you. You want the experience, not an income supplement. Most sharks don’t fleece you right off anyway, since they take about half an hour or so to get a read, at the earliest, and even when they have you dead to rights they do not want to scare away the other fish.

Besides, it is possible, depending on the stakes and the casino, that there won’t even be a shark present. Best table in the universe for fun-playing! xD

2.) Be friendly and tip the dealers.

Make sure you inform the dealer you are a n00b, you will need the protection from sharks and asshats while you are learning. Make sure you tip the dealer(s) periodically, and be friendly and non-argumentative.

A good tip ratio depends on the stake & rake, but since I told you not to worry about the rakes (xD) just pass the dealer a SB-size tip whenever you at least double your investment in a pot (excluding the initial blinds), and give him a BB-sized tip when you are super happy your pocket 10’s cracked Aces or Kings, or you otherwise feel beholden to the dealer for making you an A-Perfect River Fish. :slight_smile:

For emphasis, this is very important. In the past I have seen dealers and managers be very protective of their players, and it doesn’t take much to gain this edge. Everything from making a mistake when betting, to having opponents try outrageous angle shots, to outright belligerent behavior is all easily handled for you if you have friendly staff around.

That being said, don’t go overboard on the tips. Just be friendly and everything will be fine.

3.) Play within your limits, don’t spend money you can’t afford, yadda-yadda-yadda.

4.) Have Fun!


This is a very good input on dealers and staff, I would have never thought about it, thanks.

I agree on your transition from free online poker to live casino but since I’ve played some micros (25k hands or so) and some RP (about the same size) I can tell you it plays very similar and I believe low stakes tables at casino basically play the same.

I’ve stopped RP a bit to play 100NLHE online, it actually is a bit tougher than RP 1k/2k ring games but not that much, there are still plenty of fishes and regs are easy to spot (give or take 10-20 hands).

So I think the biggest adjustment is copping with the pace of the live game which is very, very, very slow (for me at least, I multi a lot. I’m actually thinking I should stop multi tabling since I’m not trying to make extra money from poker but just to have fun).

My advice would be to stop multi tabling and play online micro/low stakes where the pace is somewhat normal for online poker (60 hands per hour or so) and then play live, otherwise you’ll end up at 35/30 which is more aggro fishy than LAGish.

@Micro-Stakes: Very true. However, at the casinos were I play the smallest game is $1/$2 NL (limit structures exist in the same range), which is still way above what you find in micro-stakes. Assuming you aren’t at a table full of drunk maniacs, of course.

@Speed of Play: Also very true. I enjoy it the slower pace, gives me time to analyze and make decisions without always being on a 30 second clock.

Other peeps posted recommendations for books/sources for live tells - all that information is handy and useful to know for self-improvement, but not necessary to have fun at the table.

But, yes, friendly staff is awesome. Especially when you get a shark that likes to talk inexperienced players into folding or calling - floor boss or dealer can shut that down quick. New players get pwned by those rascals.