10 Best Tips When You’re Not in Las Vegas

Man and Woman Gambling at a Table

Over the past 20 years, casino gambling across the United States has exploded in popularity. Much of this success should be directly attributed to the proliferation of tribal gaming and riverboat casinos throughout middle America.

Gamblers have such a vast number of available options that it’s not surprising many players choose to visit casinos closer to home and save money in the process.

However, not all casinos are on par with the industry titans you’ll find in Las Vegas. So, it’s essential that you do all necessary research before settling on lesser-known casino property.

That’s not to say you won’t be able to find a fabulous casino property in your neck of the woods. It merely means you’ll need to properly vet all casinos and know what you’re signing up for ahead of time.

Here are my 10 best tips when you’re not in Las Vegas for your gambling sessions. Use them to make the most out of your upcoming staycation.

1 – The Ante in Some Casinos Is a Bankroll Killer

In some places, like Oklahoma, you’ll be forced to make an ante bet in addition to your wager for each hand you play at a table game.

This ante varies depending on the game you’re playing, but expect a standard of $0.50 per hand. The term ante implies that you have a shot at winning your money back if successful, but that’s far from the case.

Unfortunately, the ante you pay is nothing more than a fee for playing the games. It typically comes back to the gaming laws in the jurisdiction, and it’s wholly muddled as to where your money goes.

Regardless of who keeps your ante, the casino or the state, it’s gone forever. The price of playing casino games right in your own backyard, I suppose.

This fee will effectively raise the house edge you must overcome based on your average bet amount. It’s vital that you account for this ante when you’re planning your bankroll strategy.

Then again, you could always find a casino slightly farther away without any such requirements.

2 – Take Advantage of the Bonuses

Many casinos off the beaten path are happy to gift new players with bonus money to play with on the house.

These casinos hand out no deposit bonuses for registering with the casino’s player’s club. So, you can get free money to gamble with merely for showing up.

Players Club Sign

You will have to gamble the bonus in its entirety before you can cash in on the free money, but you’re only talking between $20-$50. It’s not much, but it could give you a chance to get ahead early.

If your sole focus is on making a quick profit, the bonuses may give you the best shot. Any money won playing with the bonus is pure profit.

3 – Know the Games Before You Leave Home

Don’t be one of the millions of casino gamblers every year that walk into the casino with no knowledge of how to play the games or their rules.

Nothing will siphon money from your bankroll quicker than playing games you don’t understand. There are several options for learning to play casino games.

From reading online articles and books to practicing the games online at free casinos, the options abound. The best approach will be combining the different methods and learning to incorporate the best strategies for the games you prefer.

You must understand the exact set of rules you’ll be facing in the casino. That will enable you to precisely match your practice routine to the natural world environment.

4 – Treat the Staff Like You’re in Vegas

Just because you may not be getting the bright lights and raucous scene of Las Vegas doesn’t mean you’ll be treated any less spectacularly by the casino personnel.

The smaller casinos must maintain the highest level of customer service. Casino gamblers expect to be treated a specific way. The casinos in Vegas understand that each player is unique in a manner.

The casinos away from Vegas take that even more seriously. They know that gamblers always have the more attractive Las Vegas Strip at their disposal and treat guests in a first-class manner.

Casino Dealer

You should do your part to reciprocate that by treating the casino staff in the same courteous way. That includes tipping your dealer and the cocktail servers and being polite to players’ club staff and pit bosses.

Remember that casino employees talk to each other, and if you’re a jerk to one, it may impact other encounters. In a smaller casino, this is magnified, and you could soon be persona non grata if your behavior is unbecoming or out of line.

5 – Make Sure You Visit the Best Casinos

It can be challenging to pin down the best casinos near you. Depending on where you reside, there might well be a cluster of casinos nearby, or they could be sparse, requiring more travel.

Whatever your individual case may be, it’s essential that you seek out and invest your time and money in the best casinos you can find.

This usually means starting on the internet and pouring over reviews, but even this muddy the waters. So, lean on your fellow gamblers by checking the forums.

There will be a wealth of opinions on any casino you may be considering, and you’ll get a clearer picture of which casinos are worth a shot and those you should pass.

6 – Pay Close Attention to Slots RTP

It’s always advisable to know the house edge on a game before sitting down to play for real money. The advantage will determine how much of your money the casino plans on keeping and dramatically impacts how long you can spend at the tables.

In Las Vegas, the RTP or return to player on slot machines comes in at an average of 92%. That means the casino is paying back 92% of all money gambled on slots-based games and keeping the rest.

So, the house edge averages at around 8%. You’ll never be able to overcome the house edge in the long run. That’s the reason many advantage gamblers choose to avoid slot machines altogether.

Harrah's Casino Slot Machines

In some casinos outside of Las Vegas, the RTP is estimated to be as low as 80%. I’d say it’s higher than that based on my own experiences, but at even 85%, the house edge is insanely high.

Watch out for the RTP on slot machines, or you may find yourself burning through your bankroll at an alarming rate.

7 – Never Pay Attention the ATM

Casinos are artists when it comes to opening players’ wallets. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made many trips to the casino and lost more money than I had ever planned.

Those were in my early days of gambling, and thanks to sound bankroll management, they’ll remain in the past. However, a steady stream of well-intentioned gamblers pour into the casino daily and lose more than expected.

One of the most significant ways to avoid this is by only carrying the cash you intend to lose. Then all you need to do is completely ignore the ATMs sprinkled around the casino, and you’ll get out much cheaper.

8 – Look for Fun Activities Away from the Casino

One of the most commonly missed areas of casino gambling as a big picture hobby is the plethora of activities to be enjoyed near the casinos.

Camping, golf, sightseeing, kayaking, fishing, and museums are often found within close proximity to casinos. I believe it’s the most rewarding aspect of my travel to new places.

Mohegan Sun Golf Club

Often, I’ll plan a full day of exploring without any concrete ideas of where the day will take me. If you love eating great food and talking to interesting people as much as I do, this will be the memory-making part of your adventure.

Gambling in the casinos is an exciting and fun pastime. Still, unless you win millions, the experience is primarily the same. Get out of the casino to make the most of your time.

9 – Take Full Advantage of Poker Games

One of the things that make Texas Hold’Em such a fantastic game is that it relies far more on skill than pure luck. A skilled player will always hold an edge over less experienced opponents.

In a game with zero house edge, that can lead to some significant winnings. Unfortunately, most Vegas poker tables are full of sharks, all fighting over the scraps left by weaker players.

However, in the more rural casinos, your general poker skills may be enough to conquer all who dare face you. Check the poker room for opportunities to cash in when you’re not playing in Las Vegas.

10 – Be Wary of the Rewards Programs

Finally, I want you to be warned of the way comps are given at casinos away from Sin City. The percentage of comps will be lower on average because the casinos own a captive audience in many regards.

I point this out to you because I don’t want you falling into the trap of chasing free gifts. Let the comps come organically, and your bankroll will be much better off in the end.


There are a ton of benefits to chasing your gambling bug all across the United States. These 10 best tips for when you’re not gambling in Las Vegas can just as easily apply to wherever your gambling sessions take you, even Las Vegas.