Rivers Casino game basics for first-time players

Help awaits newbies
Rivers Casino and Resort opens at noon Wednesday in Schenectady.
Rivers Casino and Resort opens at noon Wednesday in Schenectady.

Call. Hit. Fold. Six line. Hi-lo.

Such terms are a standard part of the experienced gambler’s vocabulary. For novices, they may as well be a different language.

Rivers Casino and Resort opens at noon Wednesday in Schenectady and is expected to draw thousands of visitors in its first few days. The crowd will likely include both seasoned players and curious visitors stopping by to see what the $330 million facility is all about.

For those unsure of the rules of table games or poker — or anyone in need of a refresher — dealers and other casino employees will be on hand to help visitors find their way, according to casino officials.

Learning the rules

The casino has pamphlets available in every gaming pit and at its Rush Rewards station on the gaming floor that explain the rules of each table game. The brochures break down the how-to and the odds associated with certain bets.

“The very first thing we do is make sure the customer has (a pamphlet), if they’ve never played,” said Rosemarie Cook, Rivers’ vice president of gaming.

Each table has a dealer, and a supervisor is assigned to each set of six tables, Cook said. If a player is unfamiliar with a game, the supervisor will take the time to provide a pamphlet and explain the rules before passing the customer off to the dealer.

“The great thing about that is most of the dealers in dealer school had never played, either,” Cook said. “They were in the exact same situation, so they totally understand.”

Cook pointed to craps as a game that seems intimidating because it can involve a group of people. But in reality, she said, it’s one of the easiest to play. Multiple dealers are typically stationed at a craps table, so one is able to provide instruction if a player has questions, she said.

Table games vs. poker

Visitors will notice the facility’s 15 poker tables are housed in a separate room, adjacent to the main gaming floor.

The distinction between poker and table games is a subtle one, but it helps explain why the two are talked about separately. Table games are considered “banked tables,” Cook said, meaning the customer is playing against the house. Those games include blackjack, craps or roulette.

RELATED: Buicko family gathers for special dice toss before Rivers opening

In poker, those at the table are playing against each other, while the casino just takes a small portion of each pot as commission, she said.

Pamphlets on the rules of poker are available in the Poker Room, Cook said.

Limits and minimum wagers

Rivers Casino includes a six-table high-limit area, meaning the minimum wager on a hand is significantly higher than it would be on the main gaming floor.

The limit on the main floor will typically run from about a $10 minimum to a $25 minimum, Cook said. The price changes depending on the preference of customers at the table, as well as the level of business at a given time.

“We can raise it if it’s a busier time of day,” she said. “It’s very much like an airline with pricing. We price the games according to the business.”

The high-limit room features five blackjack tables and one baccarat table, Cook said. The room is tucked away next to Dukes Chophouse and is filled with cream-colored tables and a VIP lounge. Gamers  there will need to place minimum wagers of around $100 or more, Cook said.

With much more money on the line in that area, the high-limit room provides some more privacy, Cook said.

Rivers Casino, by the numbers

Rivers Casino and Resort features 1,150 slots, 67 table games and 15 poker tables. Here are the available games:




Mini baccarat

Pai Gow poker

Asia poker

Let it Ride

Three-card poker

Mississippi Stud

Casino War

Categories: -News-, Schenectady County

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