Interesting Poker House Rules for Beginners

min read
A croupier spreading playing cards at a gambling table in a casino.
BetMGM May 18, 2022, 6:02 AM

Whether you’re taking part in poker tournaments or simply playing a game of Texas hold’em at your local casino, every establishment has its own house rules. These rules are customized for each poker room and either supplement or substitute the standard poker rules that are common to all games of a particular variant. This means that even seasoned players will sometimes find themselves playing with rules they weren’t aware of before joining a table.

We’ll explore some of the basic rules of poker that beginners will benefit from learning before playing for money, whether at a land-based establishment or in a game of real online poker, as well as some interesting house rules unique to each live or online poker establishment.

Basic poker rules for beginners

There are a large variety of poker games, with some poker variations more suited to a beginner’s game than others. But the same basic rules apply to them all. The three main types of poker that most games fall under are draw poker, stud poker and community card poker.

  • Draw poker: In these games, players are dealt a complete hand of five cards, which remain hidden. Once all players have been dealt their cards, there is a round of betting and players can trade up to three of their cards and draw cards from the deck to replace these, in order to improve their hand. 
  • Stud poker: Games in which players receive a combination of face-up (visible) and face-down (hidden) cards are known as stud poker. The most common variants are five-card stud and seven-card stud. In these games, players must make the best of the cards they’re dealt and place wagers according to the strength of their hands. The player who places the highest bid wins, unless someone else matches the wager. In this case, both players reveal their cards and the player with the best hand wins.
  • Community card poker: Similar to stud poker, players are dealt a combination of face-up and face-down cards. The face-up cards are known as community cards and all the players around the table can use these to improve their hands. Common variants of this type of poker include Texas hold’em and Omaha hold’em.

Betting rounds start to the left of the dealer, and once players are dealt their cards, they have four options: Raise (increase wager,) fold (forfeit the round due to a poor hand,) call (if a player raised, all players must either fold or match the stake) or check (if no one raised, the player can check and defer their bet until someone either raises or folds.)

Poker house rules

House rules may include basic things like only speaking English at the table, no use of cellphones during games and banning intoxicated people from playing, but some rules are more nuanced than this. Here are some house rules you may come across while playing at a casino (some are less common than others!)

Straddle bets

Straddle bets, simply known as “straddles,” are bets that players put in blind before seeing the cards they’ve been dealt. House rules around these types of bets (of which there are dozens of variations) will be found in every casino – some casinos allow them, while others do not. When they are allowed, there are limits on the bet amount, position and more.


While tipping is encouraged in most US casinos, in others, particularly in Asia, tipping a dealer is strictly prohibited. If allowed, you can tip in two ways. Either leave a chip for the dealer on the table or place a side bet, making it clear that the dealer collects the winnings if the bet comes in.

Keep in mind that you can also tip at online casinos. Some of the best online poker sites that provide live dealer games, will have a built-in “Tip” function in their game interfaces that allows you to show your appreciation to your friendly online poker dealer.

When it comes to tipping, you can’t go wrong if you take a bit of time to locate, read and understand a casino’s rules of conduct.

Chip and card visibility

Many casinos have rules about the visibility of a player’s chips and cards. In most cases, chips should remain visible at all times, with the highest value chips at the front of the stack so other players can make quick estimates of the opponents’ chip total. Cards are also expected to remain in plain sight at the front of the chip stack – not behind chips, in a player’s hands or hidden off the table. 

Verbal declarations are binding

In most cases, verbal declarations take precedence over physical actions, and conditional statements are strongly discouraged. For example, “If you bet, then I will raise.”

Avoiding the muck

The muck has two meanings – it refers to the pile of discarded cards on the poker table, while mucking refers to folding your cards. In this instance, we are referring to the pile of discarded cards. In some casinos, if your cards touch the muck, even accidentally, they are immediately considered dead.

The game of poker has some of the most interesting and obscure terms that will have you scratching your head as a beginner. It’s always good advice to take time to get to know both the common phrases as well as some of poker’s more unusual terms

Leaving the game

Players are, in many games, required to announce their decision to leave a game at least one round or half an hour ahead of time. The exception is when a player goes bust, in which case they may leave immediately if they don’t intend to re-buy.

Declaration of bets

Players are required to declare their bets and raises. If they fail to do so, the wager is their full amount of chips.

Returning to a game

Should a player leave a game, then return to the same table within an hour of cashing out, their buy-in is usually expected to be equal to the amount removed when they left the game. 

One player to a hand

This rule is quite obvious but often needs to be included anyway. Each player has only one hand and may not seek advice from others on how to play their hand. This rule is common to all variants, whether Omaha High or Texas hold’em poker hands.

Always be polite

It’s probably not a good idea to imitate the way some professional poker players try to outsmart or trick their opponents. While their shenanigans make for great entertainment, if you get too heated or rude at the table, you’re likely to be asked to leave. Keeping a cool head and learning how to read body language during a poker game is still the best way to make good decisions and keep improving your game.

Access the best online poker at BetMGM

No matter where you’re playing, it’s best to ask the dealer as soon as you sit down if there are any non-standard house rules you should know about. Be sure, of course, to have the basics down too. Having done this, you’re free to put all your focus into playing a stellar game.

Speaking of stellar games, when you register with BetMGM, you’re signing up for just that! With our impressive variety of casino table games, online slots, live dealer games and more, you’re sure to find a variety of games to enjoy.

We’ve also made it easy to take part in a variety of exciting online poker tournaments wherever you happen to be. Take a look at our poker tournament schedule that includes over 70 tournaments daily and Network Sunday $35,000 Tournament, when you have the opportunity to play in one of the biggest Sunday Majors around! We also have lots of poker tournament tips online for you, so head over to the home of poker at BetMGM!

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.