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If you've never played poker in Las Vegas, the process of joining a game might seem a little daunting. Do you just walk up and take a seat? Who do you talk to? Where do you get chips? The good news is that this confusion can be rather quickly put to rest. Taking a seat in a live poker game in Las Vegas is really quite simple.
Almost every poker room in Las Vegas has a sign-in desk. From here, you can receive information on which games are running and which games have immediate open seating. If the game you want to play has no open seating, you can add your name to the wait list here. Wait lists are a pretty common thing to find in a Las Vegas poker room, especially during peak evening hours. After all, the casinos would prefer you have to wait a while before taking a seat in a poker game. Maybe you'll feed some money into a slot machine or start a bar tab while you wait.
Once you are directed to a seat by the floor man, it is important to take note of the minimum and maximum buy-in for the game. A typical $1/$2 no-limit game in Las Vegas will have a maximum buy-in of $200 with a minimum ranging anywhere from $40-$100. But there are plenty of exceptions to this. Some casinos offer a larger cap or even no cap whatsoever. I once bought into a $1/$3 no-limit game at Wynn for $1,500. I was drunk and wanted to have a ton of chips to stack up and feel good about myself with. That and there was an old guy sitting in the game with over $1,000 himself so it seemed like a good idea. (Note: Wynn has since added a $500 buy-in cap to this game).
You almost never need to arrive at the poker table with chips-in-hand. Cash will do. Put the money you wish to buy-in for on the table. The dealer will direct a chip-runner to retrieve your cash and bring you an equivalent amount of chips. It is customary to tip the chip-runner a dollar or two for this service.
Speaking of tipping, it important to note that you need to tip the dealers in a live poker game. They get paid very little by the casinos and live off of tips. You only need to tip them win you win a pot. For small pots under $25 that take a minute or less to complete, you don't need to give them anything. For pots larger than this, tipping $1 per hand won is fine. I like to throw them $2-$5 after winning a large pot just to spread the good karma around a little. Profit-oriented players will complain that tipping cuts into their winnings, but try to look at it as just another expense to playing in the game, like rake.
A few brief points of etiquette and tips for playing in a poker game in Las Vegas:
Above all, have fun and relax. After all, it's just a game!