Casino Poker Games

Live Games, Table Games, and Video Poker

Borgata poker room
Borgata poker room. (c) Matt Law

You can enjoy poker in three different ways at casinos. You can match your skills against other players in the traditional poker room. You may also find table games based on poker where you play only against the dealer. You can also play video poker. Here are the basics and tips for these forms of casino poker.

Poker Rooms

The best poker action in a casino is going on in the poker room, either in tournament play or cash games. You will be playing against other players, so you will need to hone your skills in reading their tells, knowing how to bet, and performing the perfect bluff. Live poker is a game of skill rather than gambling. Learn the rules and basic play for Texas HoldemSeven Card Stud, Omaha, and Omaha High-Low before you join the game.

Poker rooms in Las Vegas are non-smoking areas. You will need to observe the house rules. A novice can still win one of the many daily small tournaments, so don't be intimidated. The buy-in is often the cheapest seat in town.

Casino Poker Table Games

When poker is played as a table game, you will only be playing against the dealer or banker, like blackjack. In some casinos, the players take turns being the banker. You can play for low or high stakes as posted at the table. Don't be afraid to ask the dealer to explain the game to you. You don't have to worry about looking like a novice to the other players.

  • Pai Gow Poker: This table game is played with a standard 52-card deck plus one Joker. After making a bet, each player is dealt seven cards and must make two poker hands, one with five cards and one with two cards.The five-card hand must be higher than the two-card hand. The Joker acts as an ace unless it can fill out a straight or flush. You face off against the banker, who also has a five-card hand and a two-card hand. Your corresponding hands must beat the banker's hands. If both win, you win the bet. If only one of your two hands win, it is a push. If both of your hands lose, you lose your bet. If any of the hands tie, the win is usually given to the banker according to the house rules.
  • Texas Hold'em Bonus Table Game: In the table game, you are playing only against the dealer.You place an ante bet and receive your two hole cards and the dealer also receives two hole cards that will form the hand you are betting against. You can then bet twice the ante or fold. The three flop cards are dealt and you can bet the ante amount again or check. The fourth card is dealt and you can bet the ante amount or check. When the fifth card is dealt, each player in turn will then reveal their hands and the dealer will pay those who beat his hand.
  • Three Card Poker: In this table game, you can bet the ante, which will win if your hand beats the dealer's hand, or pair-plus which wins if your three-card hand has a pair or better. After being dealt three cards, you can then fold and lose your bet or place another ante bet to play the hand. If the dealer doesn't have a Queen or better, his hand doesn't qualify and the players win. If he does, then the hands are compared to the dealer and the player wins or loses.
  • Four Card Poker: In this game, you place the ante bet and can also bet an "Aces Up" bet. You are dealt four cards while the dealer has one card face up and four cards face down. You can fold or bet one to three times the ante. Then the dealer's cards are revealed and he makes the best four-card hand to play against your hand. You will then win or lose.
  • Let it Ride: You place three equal bets and are dealt three cards while the dealer deals himself two cards, all face down. You can decide to take back one bet or "let it ride." The dealer reveals one of his cards, which the players will use as a community card. You can take back your second bet or "let it ride." The dealer reveals the second community card. If your hand has a pair of 10s or better, you win and are paid according to whether you let your first two bets ride or took them back. The third bet is always in play.

Video Poker

Video poker can be enjoyed at large and small casinos. You are only playing against the machine, so if you aren't ready to match your skills against other players, it can be a good way to get started. There are variations in video poker, so you may want to study the Jacks or Better video poker rules as well as five-card draw poker strategy. Knowing when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em will give you an edge.