The Las Vegas Gambling Guide for Newbies
Most people that visit Las Vegas will spend some time gambling even though they generally don’t gamble at home. The only rule that you ought to know is: the house always wins. In the long run, the casinos are always the winners and the players (you) are always the losers.
Still want to gamble? Great! Here’s some beginner tips and mistakes to avoid so you can stretch your gambling money and play longer.
Avoid Slot Machines
Slot machines are flashy and inviting to beginners but you should always avoid them. Slots have some of the worst payouts in all of the casinos. In other words, you will lose your money fast. You’re better off spending your hard-earned money on a show or a fancy restaurant instead. Although some slot machines are called “penny slots”, the term is highly misleading. Most penny slots require you to play multiple lines so each spin will cost you 25 cents instead of a single penny.
If you really insist on playing slot machines, try the video poker machines; they have a better payout in most cases. Keep in mind that video poker requires some knowledge in choosing the right cards to maximize your earnings.
Only gamble what you’re willing to lose
This is one of the best advice that should be given to all gambling beginners. You should never go into a casino expecting to win some money. Set aside a budget for gambling money and don’t expect to leave the casino with that money. Think of gambling like an expense instead of an investment!
Play games that don’t require much time to learn
Since we excluded slot machines, the best alternative is to play the table games. The most popular games are blackjack (“21”), baccarat, roulette and craps. There are many more but these games are generally easier to learn than others.
If you’re unsure about the rules of the game, read the rules online or go to an empty table with a low minimum bet and ask the dealer. When you first arrive at a table, mention to the dealer that you’re a beginner and you may ask questions during play. It’s also very common for players to ask the dealer for help so don’t feel bad about it.
All gambling strategies are losing strategies
There’s a lot of people that claim their gambling strategy will earn you guaranteed winnings but they are simply not true. In the long run, you will mathematically always lose to the casino. This doesn’t mean that you will lose every time you play, you will experience ups and downs. The exception to the rule is card counting in blackjack but that is highly discouraged by the casinos. This is not something that beginners should even consider.
However, there are gambling strategies that will maximize your chances and minimize your losses such as Basic Strategy in blackjack. Learning Basic Strategy is a great idea but it requires you to memorize rules. If you’re willing to learn, blackjack is the recommended game for beginners. Otherwise, beginners should stick to a simpler game like baccarat.
Choose the right table
Without getting into the specifics, each table game will have their own set of rules and choosing the right table can be tricky. Here’s a list of the most important things to consider:
Minimum bets: This is the minimum amount of money you need to bet in order to play a hand. Low minimum bets are generally preferred for beginners. Depending on the time and day of the week, you can find tables with a $5 minimum bet inside most casinos on the Strip. On weekends and evenings, the most common table is around $10 minimum bet.
Maximum bets: This is the maximum amount of money you need to bet in order to play a hand. Most beginners shouldn’t worry too much about maximum bets.
Current players: If you’re uncomfortable playing with other players, look for tables that are empty. Keep in mind that tables with low minimum bets are generally very crowded. Look for a table where the players seem to be friendly; it’s always more enjoyable to play with respectable people.
Dealer: Look for dealers that are dealing at a rate you’re able to follow. Experienced dealers will generally deal fast and it’s up to the player to keep up with the pace.
A bankroll is the amount of money a gambler has that is available to him or her. A common question asked by beginners is “how much money should I play?”. There’s no rule but a common suggestion is to first determine the minimum bet at the table you want to play at. Multiply that minimum by X and then multiply that number by the number of hours you want to play: that will give you a rough idea of how much money you should bring.
Formula: Minimum Bet x Number of hours to play x Multiplier (20)
For example, John wants to play a table that requires you to bet a minimum of $5. He wants to play for 2 hours. He should bring $200 ($5 x 20 x 2). With $200, John is guaranteed to play at least 40 hands.
Get free comps!
In the context of casinos, “comps” are complimentary items or services given to players free of charge. The list of complimentary items range from basic alcoholic drinks to a free hotel room stay. The comps are based on how long you play, what game you play and how much you bet.
If you play long enough, a waitress will come see you and ask if you would like a drink. Just make sure you tip her when she brings you the drink: the general rule of thumb is to tip $1 per drink. On the same note, it is customary to tip your dealer although it is not mandatory.
Test the waters with online gambling
Online gambling is a good way to learn about the rules of the game. If your Vegas trip is still a few weeks ahead, you could spend some time to learn blackjack’s basic strategy. Most online casinos will offer free money play and real money play.
A great advice for beginners is to quit playing when gambling is no longer fun. Gambling should be seen as a form of entertainment and nothing more. If you’re no longer having fun but you already lost some of your money, cut your losses and move on. Las Vegas has an endless list of entertainment options, you can always spend that money elsewhere. Welcome to Vegas…