For everything there’s a first time. This includes going to the casino. I have fond memories of my first visit to the casino, but I wish I’d known a few things before I set foot in there.
If you’re new to the casino scene and want to be more educated than I was during your first visit, here are 7 questions answered for beginner casino gamblers.
How Does the Casino Make Money?
The casino makes most of its money from the house edge on the casino games.
What’s the house edge?
It’s the statistical mathematical advantage that the casino enjoys on every bet in the casino. The house edge is higher on some bets and lower on others, but with almost no exception, every bet you make in the casino gives the house an edge.
Here’s an example of how the casino makes money:
They offer an even-money bet on the roulette table – you can bet on black, for example, and win even money if the ball lands on a black number.
The roulette wheel has 38 numbers on it – 18 of them are black, 18 of them are red, and 2 of them are green.
This means you have 18 ways to win compared to 20 ways to lose.
It should be easy to see how, over time, the casino is going to make a consistent profit from a game with rules like this.
How Much Money Should I Bring to the Casino?
You’ll need enough money to cover your expected costs. You’ll need money to pay for your rental car if you rent one, or cab fares, if you don’t. You’ll also need money to cover the cost of food and drink during your visit.
Most importantly, you’ll need to bring a gambling bankroll for the trip.
The guideline for this amount is simple, but it’s also something you must decide on:
You should only gamble with money you can afford to lose. If you’re behind on the rent, haven’t paid the electric bill, or need to catch up on your child support payments, you shouldn’t be gambling at all.
And you need to be comfortable possibly losing all of it.
If you’re just driving to the local casino for a few hours’ worth of entertainment, it might be worth it to just bring $200 or $400, but you can’t expect it to last long at all.
How Does the Casino Comp System Work?
If you’ve read anything at all about casinos, you’ve heard of casino comps. Even if you haven’t, you probably know that casinos give gamblers free stuff like drinks and meals. They sometimes even give gamblers free rooms.
How do they decide what free stuff to give and how much of it to award?
They have an entire system in place for deciding this called the “casino comp system.”
To get any freebies beyond the free drinks, you’ll need to be signed up for the casino’s players’ club. They give you a card that they’ll use to track your action (how much money you gamble).
You insert this card into any of the gambling machines you happen to play. You also present this card at the table games so that the casino can rate you and account for your average action at the tables, too.
The casino rewards you with free stuff on a percentage basis, and the percentage is actually tiny.
But it’s based on your action – how much you risk – rather than how much you win or lose.
In other words, if you place a total of $5000 in bets during your visit to the casino, you get awarded points on the $5000 you bet – regardless of how much you won or lost during your gambling sessions.
This percentage varies from casino to casino, but it averages around 0.2% of your action.
On $5000 worth of bets, you’d get $10 in rewards.
In fact, since most people gamble more to try to get more in rewards, the comp system turns out to be profitable overall for the casino.
In fact, they know the optimal amounts of rewards to pay off to maximize motivation for gamblers to play.
Sure, you should sign up for the rewards, but don’t think you’re not giving something up in exchange for these comps.
For one thing, the casino gets your personal information so that they can advertise to you, which means you’ll probably lose more money at their casino in the future than you would otherwise.
How Do Casino Bonuses Work?
Online casino bonuses are a phenomenon. Those are the matching bonuses you see offered to new depositors at these online casinos. When you see a homepage of a casino with an ad that says get a 200% bonus on your first deposit up to $5000, it means that when you deposit $2500, the casino will add $5000 to your account as a bonus for signing up.
This sounds too good to be true, and, in a real sense, it is.
For example, you might sign up at a casino with a wagering requirement of 35X your deposit plus bonus. If you deposit $2500 and get a $5000 bonus, you must wager (35X $7500), or $262,500 before cashing out.
Most casinos require you to wager this money on slot machines, too, which you can assume have at least a 6% house edge.
How much are the expected losses on $262,500 in action with a 6% house edge?
Since your starting bankroll with the bonus is $7500, you’re expected to lose all of it long before reaching your wagering requirement.
You could get on a lucky streak, though, and defy the odds.
But online casinos aren’t in the business of losing money on casino bonuses.
Which Casino Games Should I Play?
I suggest avoiding any casino game with a house edge of more than 1.5%. I don’t begrudge the casino the right to make money, but I want a fighting chance of walking away a winner. When the house edge gets higher than 2%, it gets a lot harder to pull that off.
This means avoiding slot machines and playing video poker instead. And, you can’t play just any video poker game, either – you must pick the ones with the best pay tables.
It also means avoiding games like roulette and playing games like baccarat, blackjack, and craps instead.
In blackjack, you must learn basic strategy to minimize the house edge.
In craps, you must avoid the sucker bets and stick with the basic bets.
And with baccarat, avoid the tie bet.
Avoid anything huge and flashy when it comes to a casino game – glitz costs money.
Are Casino Games Rigged?
In a sense, casino games are rigged, but not in the way most people think.
When most people think a casino game is rigged, they assume that the outcomes aren’t really random. In other words, they think the casino gets to decide whether you win on that next spin of the roulette wheel or not.
If that’s your definition of rigged, you’ll be disappointed to know that casinos don’t need to cheat.
But, they all do this:
They pay their bets off at lower odds than the odds of winning.
For example, a single number bet in roulette pays off at 35 to 1 odds. But the odds of winning are 37 to 1.
The casino wins 37 times out of 38, but the one time you do win, you only get 35 units. The other two units are the casino’s profit.
EVERY game in the casino has a mathematical edge like this.
Some games have a bigger edge than others, but that’s how the casinos stay in business.
But no, other than that, the games are NOT rigged.
They don’t have to be.
How Do I Know if I’m a Gambling Addict?
The thing about addiction is that it’s an insidious disease that creeps up on you.
The biggest symptom I know of is that it takes a bigger dose of whatever you’re addicted to for the same thrill you used to get.
If you used to be happy playing $5 blackjack, but now you’re bored unless you’re betting $500 per hand, you might have a gambling addiction.
Also, if you engage in an activity without joy – but you can’t stop participating in that activity – you might have an addiction.
But don’t make the mistake of not taking a potential gambling addiction seriously.
Problem gambling behaviors can ruin your life.
If you’re new to the casino world, you’re better armed to tackle the casino gambling scene than most beginners just by knowing the answers to these 7 questions.
Stick with the table games and stay away from the slot machines – that’s my best advice.
If you want a guaranteed way to double your money in the casino, though, try this:
Take all your cash, fold it in half, then put it in your pocket and don’t take it out again until you leave the casino.