7 Distractions That Cost You While You’re Gambling at the Casino

Man With Hand on HEad With a Roulette Wheel Cards and Dice on Left

Ideally, gambling on games of chance at the casino would take place under clinically controlled conditions. You’ll find a deck of cards or a pair of dice, a dealer to supervise the proceedings, and a player fully prepared to focus on the task at hand.

Under these all too rare conditions, you might just have a chance to play to the best of your ability and beat the house while you’re at it.

Unfortunately, casinos have never been known as a clinical setting free of commotion. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as casinos today subject players to a nonstop onslaught of distractions designed to throw gamblers off their game.

If you ever find yourself wondering where it all went wrong after a losing session, consider the seven common casino distractions below and you’re likely to find the culprit.

1 – Phones and/or Mobile Devices

If you’re reading these words, there’s a good chance you’re already engaged with one of the most devilishly distracting devices ever devised—the smartphone.

By putting an internet-connected mini-computer directly in your pocket, the digital revolution has taken distraction to the next level. Every day, normally astute and observant folks walk into traffic, trip and fall, or drive right off the road simply because they can’t put their phone down.

Mobile casinos have long since infiltrated the world of casino gambling by now. During my early days reporting live from the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas, the tournament pros tended to keep their eyes glued to one another; this is to spot “tells” that might make a difference down the road.

These days, though, your average WSOP table looks like the library in a monastery, with nine heads bowed down while they worship at the altar of free Wi-Fi. Only after being admonished by an annoyed dealer do they deign to look up and, you know, play the game they paid good money to play.

The poker room is hardly the only venue on the casino floor to be flooded by gamblers distracted by their mobile device. From the table game pit, to the slot parlors and video poker machine banks, players today just can’t seem to quit sneaking a quick peek at Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok.

But unless you’re using your phone to pull up basic strategy charts, or to run a quick check on pay table comparisons, staying stuck on your screen is a recipe for disaster.

Obviously, players who prefer skill-based games like blackjack and video poker are the ones who can least afford to lose focus. Deploying the precise basic strategy for double-deck, stand on soft 17 blackjack, or Deuces Wild VP, requires an immense amount of concentration and recall.

While playing these tough games, all it takes is a momentary lapse in attention to turn a potentially winning hand into a loser. You might accidentally ditch a crucial card by clicking the wrong button by mistake. Or perhaps you tell the dealer you’d like to hit, thinking about the last hand you saw and not the one you have now.

In any case, with your nose buried in yet another Reddit post on your phone, it’s essentially impossible to devote your full awareness to fast-paced, continually evolving casino games.

And when your awareness starts to wane, don’t be surprised when your chip stack quickly follows suit.

2 – Complimentary Cocktails

If a phone in hand is the top threat to situational awareness while gambling, complimentary cocktails clock in as a close second.

Casinos aren’t in the business of losing money, mind you, so just ask yourself why they seem to willing and able to furnish players with free drinks. Well, the house sees that seemingly endless stream of cold Coronas and watered-down whiskies as an investment of sorts.

By spending a buck to keep gamblers well-lubricated via free booze, the casino can count on collecting a few more bucks down the road when you inevitably wind up blotto. Society has deemed driving while intoxicated to be unacceptable, both legally and morally, and for very good reason.

Drinks at Casino Tables

But according to the same society’s assessment, tempting players to drink as many beers as they can stomach—all while they risk their hard-earned money on random results—is perfectly acceptable.

Absent the stigma which comes with more nefarious forms of drinking, even those who are ordinarily chaste and responsible can soon succumb to alcohol’s wiles while gambling.

If you’re ready for your first taste, scanning the room and trying to make eye contact with a server distracts from the game. When you get service, picking your poison takes time that could be better spent thinking about strategy. And when you drain that last delicious sip, the cycle begins anew as you start looking around for another round.

All things considered, drinking while you gamble provides a one-way path to the type of distraction that only gets deeper with every dram. There are even more pros and cons of drinking and gambling that we outlined in another post.

3 – Chatty Neighbors and/or Dealers

Okay, you’ve left the phone up in your room and you’re going to be sober for the evening… So, what else could go wrong?

Plenty, provided you start getting gabby with a dealer or fellow player who likes to hear themselves talk. For some odd reason, even folks who wouldn’t say a word to a stranger in public become chatterboxes when the chips start flying.

They might want to know where you’re from, and they’ll definitely let you know all about their neck of the woods. Others prefer to talk shop, swapping bad beat stories and offering insights into their can’t miss “system.”

Worse yet, you might just encounter a true tourist, one who is perfectly happy to regale you with tales of the beautiful Bellagio fountains, New York/New York’s radical roller coaster, and… blah, blah, blah.

Fellow players aren’t the only potential distractions when it comes superfluous conversation either. Dealers get bored working behind the box all day, especially when incoming players are few and far between. In many cases, the dealer actually believes it’s their job to provide a sounding board – almost like an oblivious barber who can’t seem to stand the sound of silence.

Whomever it is doing the talking, trying to follow their train of thought while you follow the action on the felt is tough sledding. Inevitably, you’ll start to drift off into the natural ebbs and flows of verbal exchange, forgetting to focus first and foremost on playing properly.

And when this disconnect occurs, it won’t take long before your chips and credits disappear like a whisper on the wind.

4 – Flirty Strangers

Speaking of whispers, what are you going to do when an attractive starts whispering sweet nothings in your ear?

If you’re like virtually all gamblers with a pulse, I’m willing to bet the presence of an attractive human being paying you attention is all it takes to forget about finding the best full pay tables.

Casinos are a veritable hotbed for flirting. And naturally, when the prospect of scoring after sundown presents itself, players can be forgiven for making romance their main priority.

Happy Gamblers at a Craps Table

If you’re single and ready to mingle, consider segmenting time spent at the casino rather strictly.

Spend one night solely at the nightclub hunting for a hook-up, but don’t spend a penny playing. Then, when the next night rolls around, reverse the process by sticking to the games and ignoring potential significant others.

5 – Playing Other Games

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen another player try to pull “double duty.”

Thanks to the advent of online casinos (smartphones strike again), it’s now possible to gamble on more than one game simultaneously. In between baccarat hands, why not pull up the virtual roulette wheel and see if Lady Luck is smiling your way? And what’s the harm in playing a quick Sit-and-Go poker tournament on your phone while grinding away on the slots?

Harm is a relative construct, of course, but attempting to play even one gambling game well is already a tall task. Compounding that difficulty by double-dipping and trying two games at the same time only means you’ll be playing both at half capacity.

This distraction doesn’t even have to stem from online casinos either. Every brick-and-mortar gambling hall has keno runners ready and waiting to give you something else to sweat on the side.

Do yourself a favor and stick to one game at a time if you want to do it right.

6 – Following Sports Bets on the TV

Along the same lines, placing a sports bet at a real money sports betting site before gambling in the pit or on the machines always seems like a fun way to enhance your action.

While the new dealer is shuffling the deck, or the craps crew is rotating out for a new down, you can simply stare up the nearest TV to see how your side is faring on the scoreboard.

People Having Fun at a Casino Table

The problem with that should be apparent though: A screen is a screen is a screen. Whether it’s your phone or the sportsbook TV, staring at a screen while you have money on the table only spells bankroll suicide.

7 – Spouses, Significant Others, and Kiddos

This last entry is a bit tongue in cheek, but I take it quite seriously.

If you ever—and I do mean ever—feel like your family is distracting you from the casino, it’s time to step back and reflect for a moment.

In reality, it’s the gambling which has become a distraction, taking your precious time away from the ones who matter most.

Take a break, spend some quality time at home, and only return to the action when you’ve put your priorities in the proper perspective.

Our Final Thoughts on These Gambling Distractions

Like I said up above, gambling would preferably go down in a sterile environment free of all outside interruption. Alas, a perfect world is merely the stuff of fantasy. So, casino game enthusiasts must contend with all sorts of external distractions while pursuing their passion.

It might be the latest technological advancement, liquid libations, or the instinctual craving for conversation and affection. Whatever the case may be, don’t let the distractions covered above deter you during your quest to crush the casinos and collect their cash.