First Time at the Casino Part 1: Before You Sit

Caesars Indiana
An orgiastic feast of overstimulation. In Indiana even.

This is the first in a two-part article about your rookie visit to a casino poker room. Part 1 focuses on getting comfortable, and Part 2 will give you some table pointers.

Your first trip to the casino is usually an overwhelming one. There are players huddled around tables, the cheers and cries of winners and losers, the ringing of bells and flashing of lights.

The whole casino environment is an orgiastic feast of overstimulation. It's only natural to feel a little freaked out when entering this environment for the first time.

Once you get to the poker room it's usually no better. There are the TVs plastered to the walls and these diminutive figures with piles of chips in front of them, managers and chip runners and security all milling about.

If you aren't careful you can find yourself easily distracted. I designed this article to make your first trip to the casino poker room a smooth transition from your regular game.

Before You Sit Down

1. Put your name on the wait list. Get the poker room number off the Internet and 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.

If there is a waiting list, this will save you from having to sit around the casino for an extra hour getting tempted by rigged house games.

2. Checking in. When you first arrive at the casino head straight to the poker room and check in with guest services. If there is still a large wait list you may be offered a pager that will beep when your seat is available.

This is a good idea if you are going to be wandering around checking out all the action. Now is the time to ask any questions you may have about buy-ins and things like that.

3. Avoid the trap of casino pit games. I figured this needed a section of its own. You are a poker player and poker players are above playing -EV games. So don't waste your time or money.

You can stick around the poker room and watch TV or read some poker magazines to kill the time. Whatever you do, don't put your buy-in down on one hand of blackjack!

4. 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.


Norm MacDonald
Don't be intimidated. Everyone's a little nervous their first time.


5. Get your own chips. To save time you can go to the cage 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 are waiting just get your chips from the cage yourself.

6. Lay your money on the table. When handing money to a casino employee it's good to get into the habit of just placing the money on the table. Casino employees are not supposed to accept money directly from a player's hand so just lay your money on the table and they'll take it from there.

7. Listen for your name. Your name will most likely be called over a PA system. So if you do not have a pager, keep an ear out. If you miss your name getting called you'll be taken off the list. So make sure you listen!

When your name is called, report to where you checked in and they'll show you to your seat.

That's it for Part 1; check out Part 2 for what happens when you sit down, including a few pointers on simple table etiquette, how to handle your chips and more.

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