So, you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas. Get ready for fun in the sun! No, seriously, Las Vegas is in the desert, so there’s plenty of sun to go around. Even more importantly, get ready to hit the wildest, greatest collection of casinos anywhere in the world. You’re headed to a place where you can go from New York to Egypt to Italy just by walking a few short blocks.
The casinos of Las Vegas are magical places that make the impossible seem attainable, where a few lucky folks can turn a small stack of cash into riches beyond their wildest dreams and where you can feast your eyes and taste buds on some of the best food in the country. Still, before you hit the Strip and start flashing the cash at a casino, there are a few things you need to know.
Generally, most folks look at casinos as great friends who are just trying to give you money or as glitzy entertainment that covers up secret rooms with no cameras a la Ocean’s Eleven. The truth of the matter is, casinos are neither generous nor scary. But if you’re armed with a few casino facts, you’re going to enjoy your Las Vegas visit much, much more.
1- Casinos Want You to Play
For some reason, this statement feels controversial or, at the very least, not obvious. But the fact of the matter is, casinos want you in their four walls liberally splashing some cash. To that point, casinos don’t mind if you win some money.
Also, they might use you in their marketing to show that dreams really do come true.
The important part, though, is that the casinos will find ways to reward you if you lose money and the loyalty programs offered in Vegas already do a good job at that. These rewards probably won’t be in straight dollars, but if you find that you’ve paid in a tidy sum of money, you can expect to get roughly 30% to 40% of that money back in casino comps.
2- Casinos Only Make Money When You Lose
The opposite side of casinos wanting you to play is that they don’t want you to play well. The magnificent skyscrapers, fancy lights, and flashy attractions do not pay for themselves. They’re paid for largely by you losing money on the gambling floor, buying tickets to shows, and paying hefty prices for food.
There’s really nothing more you have to worry about with this particular item on the list other than the fact that you should keep in mind that a casino is a business that wants you to spend money.
3- You Can Lose Everything
Sorry to be a bit of a bummer with this one, but it’s important to know that casinos are not there to keep you from betting the mortgage, pulling your last dollar out of your checking account, or spending your monthly food budget playing casino craps. More than likely, if they knew you were doing something self-destructive, they would stop you.
That’s why you always set loss limits for each day and, if you can help it, don’t bring a check card or any more money than your limit to the casino floor. It’s too hard to avoid the temptation otherwise.
4- There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
Nothing at a casino is free. This is something you will have to tell yourself over and over again. The “free” drinks, the “free” trips to bar, etc. may not cost you anything directly, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not paying for them somehow. Those free drinks you’re being served are there to get you tipsy.
Also, that free breakfast you got from the pit boss saved you $20 or so, but he only forked it over because you already lost more than $20 at the table.
The good news, though, is that nothing’s free. So, that perk or comp or reward can be enjoyed guilt-free, because you’ve already paid the house for it. Well, that may not include the free drinks. You should seriously avoid gambling drunk unless you like giving your money away.
5- Pit Bosses Are Your Friend
If you’ve seen enough movies, the idea of a friendly pit boss probably sounds insane, but it’s true. Sure, the pit boss is employed by the casino and is there to make sure no one is cheating, treating the dealers poorly, etc.
However, with that said, if you have a legitimate complaint about a payout or a question about a decision, the pit boss is there to help you clear up those misunderstandings.
At the end of the day, they will do what they can to do right by you.
6- The Odds Are Not Stacked in Your Favor
You can’t walk through a casino without seeing pictures of happy winners holding huge amounts of money. Those pictures are there to prime the pump of your dreams and make you think that financial independence is just a spin of a slot machine or a hand of poker away.
The sad fact is that there are probably more people in the casino gambling at any moment than there are pictures on the wall because the odds are not in the gamblers’ favor. That doesn’t mean the games are rigged.
Still, just because the game isn’t rigged doesn’t mean that it’s designed for you to carry home stacks of cash.
7- Drinks Are Served for a Reason
As mentioned above, the “free drinks” at the casino exist for one primary reason—to make you a worse gambler. Even watered-down drinks (you should expect watered down drinks from any place that hands you a free drink) will pack enough alcohol to make you a bit tipsy. Once you’re tipsy, your mind isn’t as sharp and starts to make little mistakes here and there.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t indulge. And if you would rather drink than make money at cards, go ahead and drink until your heart’s content. If you want to play well, you might stick to soda and orange juice.
8- Casinos Don’t Need Your Business That Badly
In other words, don’t be a jerk. It doesn’t matter if you’re a playing the best high-limit rooms in Vegas or playing a penny ante player, the casinos don’t have to tolerate your bad behavior. They have enough customers that if you are doing something improper, they are well within their rights to kick you out.
9- You Are Being Watched
Just a reminder, there are cameras everywhere in a casino. This isn’t to invade your privacy or make you feel creepy. However, the casino has to be on the lookout for cheats and thieves. Until the casino perfects mind reading, they’re going to have to scan the crowd using their plethora of (admittedly well-hidden) cameras.
10- Casinos Offer Classes
In case you’ve hit the Las Vegas Strip and have no idea how to actually gamble, have no fear. The casinos will actually teach you how to play because they want you to play their games and lose.
The casinos offer good classes that will give you some useful tips on strategy for the game and give you a chance of making some money.
11- Be a Good Tipper
Up above, we mentioned that you shouldn’t be mean in casinos. Now, we want you to actively be nice.
Toss your waitstaff a few bucks for those free drinks, tip your dealer when she goes off shift, etc. A happy casino employee is a lot more likely to make your stay more enjoyable than the casino employee you just irritated by being cheap. So be sure to follow the appropriate tipping guidelines whenever possible.
A casino offers a plethora of ways to have fun, be entertained, gamble, and probably lose some money in the process. The good news is that there’s nothing wrong with any of that. If you walk into a casino with your eyes open to what’s going on (namely that a casino is a business, but one that will reward you for doing business with it), you don’t act like a jerk, are nice, and maybe take a class or two, you are going to have a great time in the desert. So go, have fun, and viva Las Vegas!