If this is the year you'd like to join in on the action, great! Just take it slow and do your research if you want maximum enjoyment from your first visit to a casino.
Whether you're mesmerized by the televised World Series of Poker, intrigued by the high-stakes poker in the 2017 movie Molly's Game, or obsessed with playing slots or blackjack online, understand one thing: when you get out of the entertainment world and step into a real-life casino, everything's different.
Here are 10 tips for anyone making a first-time trip to a casino, drawing from the combined knowledge of gambling and travel experts:
•Learn the games
"You wouldn't offer to play Kobe Bryant a little one-on-one basketball for $1,000, would you?" ThoughtCo. asked. "Well, your odds of beating him are probably about the same as winning at a casino game you've never played or read about, and while reading about Kobe won't help you beat him, learning about a new game first will really help!"
You can pick up the game basics at a site like WhereTraveler.
•Try free lessons when you get there
Many casinos offer free, live instruction in blackjack, craps, roulette, pai gow, pai gow poker, mini-baccarat and poker in an effort to entice you to play more. Not only do the lessons teach you the rules of the game, they can boost your confidence with lessons on the etiquette and jargon associated with each game. Check directly with the casino to find out what gaming lessons are offered and at what time.
Vegas Hotel Special also has a list of the Vegas casinos that offer free gaming lessons.
•Take your time deciding what to play
This advice from the Party Poker blog applies to all the casino rooms. "If you can't work out what is being played, ask a dealer or the floor manager, as they'll be more than happy to talk you through it."
•Don't be embarrassed if you can only afford a minimum buy-in
"Remember, you are paying to play in a recreational activity for your own enjoyment," noted Party Poker. "The establishment wants you to come back, so they should be very helpful and accommodating. If all of the games being played are too expensive, the floor manager can suggest more affordable games at alternate times."
•Know the odds
It's simple and complicated at the same time. Simple in that odds merely determine the chances that a player will win over other players (in games like Texas Hold 'Em) or the house (in games like Blackjack.) But complicated in that odds are a huge business, and vary wildly per game, according to Wise Geek. "Some games have relatively low gambling odds for the house, ranging from less than 1 percent in their favor for games like blackjack, to more than 20 percent for games like Big Six or keno."
Dummies.com recommended certain games and tactics for newbie players, including:
- Jacks or Better video poker (the 9/6 version): "The 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is considered full pay because you get a payout of 9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush." Make sure you're playing 9/6 by looking at the Full House/Flush payouts for one coin. Also never keep a kicker (a high card along with a pair) and throw away a small pair (tens or lower) if you have four cards to a flush or three cards to a royal flush.
- Blackjack: Increase the already (relatively) good odds by playing the table with the least amount of decks, staying away from gimmick games like 6-5 blackjack, Spanish 21, or Super Fun blackjack and never take insurance.
- Craps: The smartest strategy is to stick to the following bets in craps: Pass line bet with odds bet, come bet with odds, don't pass bet with odds, don't come bet with odds.
•Skip the bonus bets
Keep in mind that main bets (such as pass line at craps, banker bet at baccarat, ante bet at Three Card Poker) have the smallest house edge, according to ThoughtCo. Avoid the extra (or bonus) bets, since the house edge might be as much as five times higher.
•Know your limit
"Money management is a really boring subject and many people have trouble keeping track of what they have spent after a few hours of casino action," ThoughtCo. noted. "Make things easy on yourself by deciding on what you can afford to lose before you start playing. If you actually win, great, and don't be afraid to go home with the bucks. The casino will be open tomorrow, too!"
•Check out the hospitality standards before you go
If you're heading to Las Vegas, odds are good that you'll be able to hit a casino that offers free alcohol. Many will also have discounted rooms. Outside of Vegas, many of the tiny casinos or ones with little competition or state prohibitions (like Harrah's Cherokee in North Carolina) don't have free drinks.
•Play the free liquor game like a champ
According to WhereTraveler, it's a good idea to wait until the cocktail waitress approaches you at places with free liquor, instead of hitting a bar on the way in. "And if you're hitting the clubs later, start your drinking on the casino floor so there's less you have to spend - for any type of performance, even a DJ spinning, you'll get hit with an additional live entertainment tax. Better to start early!"
Avoid peak dinner times
To really enjoy your day of gambling, avoid the huge lines at peak dinner time. Instead, opt to eat between 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. to avoid hours of waiting.