Nothing compares to your first time; relax, I’m talking about going to the casino.
Each year, millions of Americans visit a gaming establishment for the first time in hopes of finding entertainment, and maybe a few extra dollars along the way.
Gambling, like anything else, requires some practice before you really start getting the hang of it. Luckily, there are some tips that you can use even as a first-timer that can help you avoid the pitfalls that come with being a beginner.
In this article, I’ll outline 7 things you should keep in mind during your first gambling experience.
1 – Make a Bankroll Even If It’s Just for the Day
If you’re only going to the casino for one day, what’s the worst that could happen? The answer is: it’s best if you don’t let it get that far.
Making a gambling bankroll not only is a smart move for a day-trip, but can help lay the foundation of a successful betting strategy should you decide you want to start playing again in the future.
If you don’t know how to set one up for yourself, it only takes a few steps: First, set aside a pool of money that you can absolutely afford to lose. In fact, in your mind you should consider this money already gone. Hopefully that won’t actually happen, but it’s best to be prepared just in case.
Once you have your amount of money set aside, the next step is to determine a percentage range between which you’ll bet on any one play. For example, you might have a $300 bankroll and decide that you’ll bet only between 3% and 5% on a single play (this is typically what the experts recommend). This would mean you’d bet only between $9 and $15 on a single play. Keep in mind you can adjust this as needed.
You may not know it as a rookie gambler, but your bankroll may just be the single most important thing to being a good bettor. Even if you’re just on a day or weekend trip, it’s important to take it seriously.
2 – Choose Where You’re Going to Play
Not all casinos have the same game offerings. While they all might have the basics like blackjack, roulette, and craps, even those games can have different house edges depending on where you play.
If you want to give yourself the best opportunity to win, you need to put yourself in the best position to win. That means choosing the places that are more favorable to players, especially in the games you think you’re going to play.
If you’re going to be visiting Las Vegas, this list provides several notable gaming offerings that are specific to certain casinos on the strip.
If you’re planning on gambling in your hometown or in another place where only one or two casinos are available, don’t worry. I’ll get to that in tip number 3.
3 – Stick to the Games With the Best Odds
Gambling is all about probability. Sure, you can hit it big and get lucky every now and then, but if you’re consistently playing low-odds games, the best you can hope for is covering your losses.
Before you start throwing your money around, take some time and research the games that are going to give you the best opportunity to win.
Games like real money blackjack, roulette, and craps provide a very favorable environment to win. On the flip side, slots, keno, and especially Big Six or Wheel of Fortunate (just stay away), are tipped so far in the house’s favor that you’re better off playing something else.
Poker, which does draw a number of people to the casino, is a bit of a wild card. My only advice is that if you do want to try your hand at poker, make sure you know what you’re doing. Often times the lineup at the casino is much more formidable than your buddies who meet up once a month to play.
4 – Manage Your Drinking
If you’ve never been to a casino, I’ll give you a little tip: they want you to be gambling under the influence. It goes without saying that decision-making is one of the first things to be significantly hindered when intoxicated, and bad decisions means more money for the house.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that you need to refrain from drinking entirely, but be aware how it could impact you financially. Also, remember that some casinos give out free drinks which can seem nice at first, but if they’re causing you to make reckless bets, might not be so generous after all.
It’s okay to have a few drinks here and there when you’re in the casino. Just recognize that one-too-many could have serious consequences. My advice? Start the party once you’ve stopped gambling for the best end result.
5 – Take Breaks From Playing
Another psychological tactic that casinos utilize is removing clocks from the gaming area. Sure, everyone has plenty of access to a clock in their phone or on their wrist, but when you’re in the heat of gambling, you probably aren’t going to be checking it.
Yes, I understand you have to play to win, but statistically, when every game has a slight house edge, the more rounds you play, the more it adds up.
The notion of taking breaks is especially important if you’re fortunate enough to be winning money in the early going. Once you’re up, it’s important to know that you’ve already beat the odds, so testing your luck could be a risky thing.
This tip isn’t even necessarily specific to first-timers. Regardless of experience level, it’s crucial to take a step back before you get sucked in to a game for hours.
6 – Know When to Walk Away
Kenny Rogers sang it, and he wasn’t kidding around. Knowing when to walk away is a crucial part of being a good gambler.
I fully understand that leaving the casino an hour into your adventure because you’re up isn’t going to be an appealing option. Nobody wants to cut the trip short because they’re winning money.
With that being said, you should still have the discipline to recognize when enough is enough and you don’t have much to gain by sticking around and betting with your “free money.” My advice would be to set a winning limit, and if that number is reached, you feel comfortable calling it a day.
Even if you aren’t gambling, there are plenty of things to do in a casino that can keep you occupied while your friends lose money. The bottom line is, create a “winning dollar number” and if it’s reached, accept that you’ve done your job.
7 – Mind the Casino Etiquette
Casinos have their own unique set of rules that might not be “official,” but it’s in your best interest to follow them.
For example, don’t take pictures of the casino, and refrain from using your phone at all while you’re playing. The first time you take it out at the table, you’ll probably get a warning, but you could be asked to leave if you violate the policy a second time.
Secondly, always make sure to tip your dealer regardless of how you fared. This should be regarded like tipping a waitress, and isn’t really up for negotiation.
These are just two components of casino etiquette, and many more exist. However, if you follow these two, you should avoid tipping anyone off that you’re a first-timer.
For those who enjoy the thrill of taking risks, casinos present an amazing opportunity for entertainment. Remember that everyone had to start somewhere, and your first trip could be the start of a new, hopefully profitable hobby.
I can’t possibly outline everything you should know to become a casino expert, but if you use this list as a place to start, you should be well on your way.