Many casinos are historic establishments and as such, come with their own set of rules and regulations. While these will be second nature to regular attendees, for newcomers, they can initially seem daunting.
If you were introduced to casino games from the comfort of your home or office, you might not know the subtle dos and don’ts of betting in a land-based casino.
After the rules themselves, you’ll need to learn a few basic rules on etiquette to avoid wide-eyed glares from the dealer, and glances from your fellow players.
Ensure that your debut in the world of gambling is a resonating success by following this overview of casino etiquette. Here are a few simple tips for making your first casino trip a little smoother.
1 – Put the Tech Away
In a world in which smartphones rarely leave their owners’ hands, casinos play by more old-fashioned rules. It’s considered extremely disrespectful to be glued to your electronic gadgets when at the table, not to mention that it’s likely to have a detrimental effect on your game.
Take a brief vacation from modern technology and keep your focus on the matter at hand, your wallet will thank you for it.
Not only is talking on your mobile distracting to players trying to concentrate on their wager, it’s rude. In most cases, anyway, the croupier will ask you to turn your phone off while you’re playing, or to step away from the table so you can take your call.
So, if you want to capture that Vegas moment of bustling roulette tables and banks of slots, buy a postcard unless you want a stern warning from casino security.
2 – Learn the Hand Signals
When playing blackjack, it’s not enough to know the verbal commands; you’ll need to supplement these with hand signals. Most of these are relatively rudimentary, but vary depending on whether the cards have been dealt face up or face down.
When the cards are face up, you tap the table for “hit” and wave your hand over the table for “stick.” For “double,” place your matching bet next to your original bet and hold up one finger; for “split” use the same action with two fingers.
If the cards are face down, use your cards to scrape the table for “hit” and slide your cards underneath your bet for “stick.” Laying your cards face up on the table and placing an additional bet next to your original one indicates “double;” placing the bet next to one of the cards instead indicates “split.”
3 – Dress the Part
While most major casinos in Las Vegas operate a relaxed policy of dress, many others don’t. Depending on where you are, you may have to wear a collared shirt and nice slacks, and wearing sneakers might mean you’re going to have a long trip back home to change.
Check with the casino before heading out to make sure you’re not under-dressed. And of course, for men and women, it’s fair to say going topless is largely frowned upon.
4 – Mind Your Liquor
James Bond might knock back martinis at a poker table with debonair nonchalance, but unless you’ve also got the alcohol tolerance of a fictional super-spy, it’s best to pace yourself.
While there’s a long standing myth that casino employees will encourage customers to drink and so gamble more recklessly, most reputable establishments prefer customers to stay sober enough to handle the rollercoaster ride of jackpots and losses. Sipping a few cocktails can enhance your experience; but if you’re out to guzzle pints, head for the pub instead.
Casinos are playgrounds where the adults can chill out and have a good time while gambling. But don’t let the booze get the better of you and make for a terrible night for everyone at the table.
5 – Cash in, Cash Out
Buying your chips is probably the easiest mistake casino newcomers make when sitting down at a table game.
For starters, make sure you’re aware of the minimum and maximum bets of each table as they will differ. These are clearly displayed on boards, so don’t sit down at a roulette table and hand over $5, only to realize the minimum bet is $10.
The croupier will catch sight of this and change your money into chips, announcing the amount as he does so.
Because roulette chips are specially colored, you’ll need to cash out before you leave the table. Indicate to the croupier that you want to leave by waiting for the end of a spin when they’re less distracted and he will change your roulette chips for generic casino cash chips. The same goes for blackjack or craps.
6 – Respect the Dealer
If a roulette croupier says, “no more bets”, he means it. If you’re unsure about the passage of play, take one of the casino’s fresher classes first, or watch the action for a while before joining in. It’s a good rule of thumb to listen to the dealer as they are directing the passage of play.
Yes, they work there and yes, they are professionals, but no dealer in the world wants to take responsibility for a player’s luck.
Consider your request from their perspective: it may sound harmless enough to ask what their recommendation would be with your hand, but if you follow their tip and lose, the dealer has no way to predict whether you’ll take it calmly and rationally, or become belligerent.
Two notable exceptions are Pai Gow and Pai Gow Poker, in which it’s common practice to check in with the dealer on the “House Way.”
7 – Handling Chips
At a roulette table, the dealer will give you a different color of chips to everyone else. This is to differentiate your chips from everyone else’s.
Remember your color and learn where the chips have to be placed correctly for a bet. Don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for help if you need; this way you won’t end up forfeiting bets by placing chips in the wrong place.
Never move, or remove, chips during a spin of the roulette or hand of blackjack, and don’t ever lay a finger on another players’ chips.
The croupier will place winning chips on top of your bets on the table and leave them. It’s your job then to remove the chips if you want or let it ride for the next bet.
8 – Be A Gracious Loser
While it’s perfectly reasonable to feel aggravated after a heavy loss or run of bad luck, it’s also an inevitable part of life as a gambler. Accusations of a rigged game or cheating dealer are extremely unlikely to be accurate, and no amount of grumbling will alter the result.
Even non-verbal reactions such as throwing away the cards or storming away from the table will show you up as a bad sport and an unwelcome guest at anythe casino. Thank and tip the dealer, excuse yourself from the table, and burn up your frustration on a long walk instead.
Casino games should be friendly and entertaining, both for you and the other players at the table. Don’t fly into a rage when you lose and start blaming the dealer or arguing with other players. Handling a gambling downswing should be handled outside the casino, not at the table.
9 – Learn to Tip
Unless you’re in a country where dealers can’t be tipped, it’s expected that you leave a small gratuity for the dealer when you get up to leave a table. It doesn’t have to be huge and don’t feel pressured to donate a big portion of your stack if you’ve had a good win. Only $1 on every small win or $5/10 when you leave the table will suffice.
Use your discretion to establish the exact amount, but always tip your dealers, waiting staff and parking attendant. Most of the casino staff will earn minimum wage and rely on tips to bolster their meager earnings.
Be courteous and professional with all the staff and do be generous if you’re winning. Even if you’re losing, it’s not your dealer’s fault. If they’ve made an effort to bolster your mood and improve your experience, the best way to thank them is with a reasonable tip.
10 – Know the Rules
Every player remembers their first time in a casino and should be correspondingly sympathetic towards novices, but a little knowledge goes a long way. While slots are fairly self-explanatory, it’s best to avoid the Craps table unless you’re confident that you understand the rules of the game.
If you want to hone your skills before joining a real game, many casinos offer free lessons in the daytime.
Alternatively, you’ll find plenty of online resources offering step-by-step coaching through the more complex games. By the time you sit at the table, you should be prepared to play with the training wheels off.
Follow these simple but important etiquette tips to avoid making a fool of yourself at the casino. Remember, casino gambling is first and foremost entertainment.
You certainly wouldn’t get sloshed at a broadway musical and stub the valet because you didn’t enjoy the show. You should demonstrate the same courtesy and decorum in the casinos.