Another good name for this page may be how to find Texas
holdem games, because we’re getting ready to tell you the best
ways to find the nearest games no matter where you’re located.
The first thing that comes to mind for most players when they
think about finding a place to play Texas holdem is the nearest
poker room or casino. But the games running in a structured
environment are just a percentage of the games running in
private clubs, businesses, and homes around the world.
One problem is that it’s fairly easy to find listings for
public places to play, but it can be quite difficult to find
private and home Texas holdem games. Learn more about how to
find holdem games in each of the next two sections and then
learn how to protect yourself when playing in private games.
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Finding Poker Rooms and Casinos
We’ve built pages for each state and a few of the major
cities like Las Vegas listing all of the public poker rooms and
casinos that have poker rooms for your convenience. Most of the
information is current, but over time rooms open and close so
it’s always a good idea to check ahead if you’re traveling far
Most large and medium sized casinos have poker rooms, but
don’t assume one has poker tables. With the availability of the
internet on your home computer and on most mobile phones it only
takes a minute to look up the web site of the casino to see if
they have a poker room listed or to find the phone number to
If you’re planning to play during the busiest times, usually
the weekend evenings, you can often call ahead and get put on
the waiting list. This can save a great deal of time waiting
when you arrive. Don’t waste too much money at the slots or
other games while waiting to play Texas holdem. Your best odds
to leave a winner are at the holdem tables, not at the slot
Simply search through our section of Texas holdem games by
state or city to see what’s available where you live or where
you pan to travel. Make a list of three or four different rooms
and try them each out.
Depending in the time and day each room has different numbers
of players and tables open. The overall level of playing ability
can also vary from time to time in the same room.
We read a story about a poker pro who decided that they’d
adjust their sleeping schedule so they could arrive at the
tables late at night / early in the morning so they could take
advantage of the players who had too much to drink and were
When they arrived at the poker room they saw a number of
other pros who had the same idea, turning a profitable situation
into one filled with sharks.
Finding Private and Home Games
Finding private and home Texas holdem games can be more
challenging than finding a game in a poker room. This is
especially true if you don’t live in the area where you hope to
find a game.
The best place to start looking for a home game is by talking
to other poker players. Many private games are by invitation
only so even if you found them you might not be able to play. A
recommendation by another poker player may be your only ticket
into the game.
If you don’t know any poker players where you want to play
you may be able to find some online. Message boards and forums
can be found where poker players hang out, but you need to be
wary of any information you receive from someone hiding behind a
user name in a forum.
One of the best places to find out about private Texas holdem
games is in bars. Many bars run their own poker games, and most
bars have at least a few people who play poker I them at any
given time. But they’re also wary of strangers asking questions
because in most places it’s illegal to run poker games in these
We don’t know exactly how not to come across as a cop or
other law enforcement officer, but this is the main obstacle to
getting information in a bar or other drinking establishment.
Many communities run charity poker events, which can be a
great place to get leads about private games. Make sure you talk
to as many fellow players as possible while playing. The odds
are high that you’ll be invited to a few games or told where you
can find out more.
At the end of the day there isn’t a great way to find private
games, but if you’re a good communicator and persistent you can
find opportunities to play.
Just make sure you stay safe and smart about how you get your information and where you go.
The next section covers many of the possible pitfalls to playing in
Private and home games are not the same as ones offered in
poker rooms, so you need to be aware of some of the possible
areas you can get into trouble while playing.
One of our editors tells the story about a private game he
used to play in. It was well off the beaten path, off a one lane
dirt road, up a winding driveway that passed a number of houses.
He received an invite from a friend and knew many of the people
who played, but it seemed like a place that was ripe for someone
to rob the game.
When he asked one of the game’s organizers about it, the
reply was simple and to the point, and somewhat comforting.
“Did you see all of the houses you drove by to get here?
That’s all family, and anyone dumb enough to come up here with
bad intentions would be lucky to get through all of them alive.
We take care of our own issues up here. Not even the local law
enforcement comes up here without calling first.”
This is a comfort to some players but a scary situation to
others. After all, what if they decided they wanted your money?
If you haven’t played in many private games you may think this
type of situation is rare, but it’s more common than you think.
But the other side of playing in private games is some of
them are vulnerable to being robbed. Doyle Brunson tells stories
about being robbed and held at gun point. You need to be aware
of your surroundings and careful about what you do and don’t do
and where you go.
Most private games are cash only so you’re carrying a bunch
of cash, often into a blind or unknown situation. Sometimes the
only thing you can do is only carry enough for the game and hope
for the best. If someone points a gun in your face what are you
going to do? When you’re faced with the question of your money
or your life have you thought about what you plan to do?
Most people give up the money and pray they get to keep their
life. While we hope you’ll never face this situation, if you
play private Texas holdem games you need to at least consider
Another real danger in private Texas holdem games is the
possibility of being cheated. While a few players try to cheat
in regular casinos and poker rooms, you’re more likely to run
into it in private games.
The first area you need to watch is when the cards are being
dealt. In many private games the players shuffle and deal, which
creates a perfect situation for someone to try to cheat.
In order to cheat during the deal the player usually first
needs to stack the deck, so watch how the cards are collected
and placed for the shuffle. Then watch how the cards are
actually shuffled. It’s fairly easy to learn a false shuffle and
to shuffle cards in a way that leaves a number of cards on the
bottom or top.
Next you need to watch for the way the cards are dealt from
the deck. Most players deal with the deck held in one hand. A
player dealing cards from the bottom or holding the top card
while dealing the second, also called a mechanic, can be tough
to spot. The best cheating dealers are almost impossible to
Don’t always expect the dealer to give themselves the best
hand, as many players work in teams of two or more. The dealer
may be giving strong hands to someone else at the table and
splitting the win at the end of the night.
Sometimes players also secretly exchange information about
what they hold to other player’s they’re working with. This is
often a simple as adjusting the way they hold the cards.
If a player has a strong hand they hold their cards in their
left hand and if they have a weak hand they hold them in their
right hand. The number of fingers held in front of the cards
also indicates a second piece of information. The third piece of
information is shown by the way the hand not holding the cards
is held on the table.
Each finger has three knuckles which can be assigned
different values, so each one can be assigned a value.
Imagine the elaborate communication system you could devise
using all of these things simply using your hands.
Add in the possibility of moving chips in your stack you add
a fourth piece of information and you’re starting to reach the
place where you can almost show another player the exact two
cards you hold.
Unless you play with the same players many times it’s almost
impossible to pick up on these types of signals unless the
cheaters are sloppy. All you can do is keep your eyes open and
try to track any players who seem to have too much information.
We’ve also seen pairs of cheaters sit beside each other and
exchange cards. If the duo is especially good the only way you
can even see evidence of their cheating is by watching them from
The key is watching their shoulders.
When they switch cards
their shoulders that are against each other dip at the same
time. From behind the player on the left has their right
shoulder against the left shoulder of the player on the right.
If they dip at the same time frequently the odds are that
they’re exchanging cards. But be warned, just because you see it
doesn’t mean you can prove it, so it’s probably going to start a
fight and they won’t admit it anyway.
So what do you do if you’re being cheated in a private game?
Of course how you react is up to you, but the safest course
of action is to quit playing and leave as quickly as possible.
Consider the possibility that whoever is organizing the game may
be in on the cheating or receiving a cut. You could be in real
danger if you start accusing someone of cheating.
The last danger to consider is one involving legal issues
that may come up if the local law enforcement becomes involved
in the game. Most people don’t even consider if it’s legal or
not to play Texas holdem in a private or home game. But in most
places it’s illegal to gamble outside of a licensed business.
We aren’t lawyers and we don’t offer legal advice so you need
to know your local laws and make your own decisions. In many
areas local law enforcement and even judges play in private
poker games. But this doesn’t automatically protect you legally.
Finding Texas holdem games near you is often as simple as
keeping your eyes and ears open and talking with everyone you
know. Start talking about poker and you’ll often find that
others are just as interested as you and play. They can lead you
to private and home games that you won’t be able to find any
If you want to find a holdem game in a poker room or casino
use our directory of Texas holdem games by state. We have a page
for each state and major poker hot spots like Las Vegas. Simply
find the area you’re interested in and follow the link.
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