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Unfortunately, like many of you, I live in an area where there are no legal poker games.  The nearest casino is over four hours away, so my only poker options are raked house games.  As a beginner, it can be very intimidating to look for a house game, so here’s three characteristics of good house games that can help you make the selection.

Low Rake

Many people have issues with playing in raked house games, but I am not one of them. I have never found a rake-free home game that was reasonably profitable.  In addition, running a good game is difficult, so rake acts as an incentive for the house to keep players happy and keep money moving.  That being said, I will refuse to play in games that rake excessively.  What is excessive depends on your geographic location (more population density = higher average rake), but in general, look around a bit and try to find the lowest possible rake.

Respectable Player Pool

The composition of the player pool says a lot about the game. In general, I prefer games with a more upscale player pool.  While such games tend to have better players, they also have richer fish with deeper pockets.  Games with low class players can be extremely profitable, but that usually comes at the expense of personal safety.

Professional Atmosphere

This may be the most important characteristic of a good house game. No matter what, I expect the house to know and follow proper casino procedure in all aspects of the game.  This prevents arguments between players.  It also helps assure players that the house is not cheating.  No matter how profitable the game is, if it isn’t run safely and professionally, it’s not worth playing in.


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