So you’ve seen every Ocean’s movie (even that ugh one with Sandra Bullock!), and you’ve watched James Bond being his usual cold-blooded self at the baccarat table, and now you’d like to be part of the fun as well. So let’s pick a game that’s easy, then! Blackjack seems simple, but which one — Spanish 21, Pontoon, Blackjack Switch, Double Attack, Double Exposure, or European? Or maybe we can go over to a poker table instead. But which one — Texas Hold ’Em, Omaha Hold ’Em, Pai Gow, Seven-card Stud, Badugi, or Razz?
Alright, screw it! Let’s go play slots instead. The first time you walk into a casino, the whole pizzazz of the casino scene becomes a bit overpowering — the glitz, the clinking of coins, men in expensive suits, women in elegant dresses. Everybody seems to have a certain way of walking, and they all talk the same way. They look like they know exactly what’s going on at every moment; while you, on the contrary, are like a fish out of water, and even need to ask directions to the toilet.
It can all be pretty overwhelming at the beginning, but fear not — it’s not that hard to get the basics! In fact, casino games are simple to learn when you understand the basic principles. After all, if they were that complicated, only a small percentage of people would play them, and that’s not what casinos want anyway. To help you progress from that newbie standing helpless at the entrance hall to someone who can peacock around the casino floor, we’ve decided to write this guide on gambling. We’re going to share with you all you need to know, including first time gambling tips for newbies for the most popular games, as well as how to select and play at online casinos. But first, let’s begin with what you ought to do once you enter a land-based one.
Tips for Your First Time at a Casino
Whenever you visit a casino, there are a few rules you should always stick to, which are actually true for any game you play. The main thing you need to bear in mind is that casinos are entertainment venues. Every casino guide for beginners should start with that. Playing casino games is not a viable means of making money. Yes, there are professional gamblers, but they are just one little drop in the ocean compared to how many people have tried their luck and lost. So whether you win, lose, or come away even, you should regard the casino as precisely what it is — a pastime activity!
So when you do decide to walk into a casino, you need to take it as given you’re going to lose at least some of your money. Yes, there can be a winning streak; but ultimately, that is a short-term success. Just consider the loss of money the price you pay for the time spent there. You wouldn’t go to the cinema expecting free entry, would you?
So now that we can finally move past that, let’s go over some principles you should stick to while playing in a casino.
Staying on Budget
The truth is, the house always wins! That’s the reason they actually exist, to begin with. The house edge the games come with represents how much money the casino will make over the long haul. The lower the house edge, the better your chances of winning money. And by the same logic, the more rounds you play, the more likely it is you’ll be losing money. So if you’re someone who is going to lose track of money and time, you’re sure to go overboard quickly and spend more than you planned. And the casino is going to help you get there — ever wondered why there are no clocks in a casino? Wear a watch.
Staying within your budget is of paramount importance to keeping casino gambling what it is — it’s supposed to be a fun leisure activity! So don’t spend money more money than you can realistically afford. Be it $40 or $4,000, make sure you always know your limits. Because after all, you don’t need to be a Bill Gates to enjoy your time in the casino! Perhaps the best point of departure for your gambling career is the penny slots — because here, you’re able to sit and play for hours while only spending as little as $20.
When you’re a newcomer, you shouldn’t just jump into a game. It’s always smart to linger around a bit and observe the other players. However, there are also some rules of conduct you can’t be aware of if you’ve never been in a casino before.
But don’t beat yourself up about it all! Essentially, you just need to be a decent human being. When losing, don’t yell at the dealer, don’t get into arguments with the other players, and you’ll do fine. Also, there are certain important behavioral guidelines you need to know about. For instance, there is an unspoken rule that you should only use one hand to touch cards that are facing down. Most casinos (especially in Las Vegas) also consider it rude not to tip the dealer, especially if you’re on a winning streak. Of course, tipping is something you do of your own accord, rather than as a strict rule. However, the best general practice is to tip the dealer at least $5 per hour, or half of your minimum bet. However, this brings us back to the point that you need to start with observing others first. Indeed, some casinos even frown upon tipping, seeing it as a way of getting favors from the dealer.+
Additionally, don’t give unsolicited advice to players who haven’t asked for it. Everybody has a playing style of their own, and you shouldn’t force your own on others. Not to mention how annoying it is when someone’s being a smart alec. In general, just be well-mannered and make sure you’re not inadvertently ruining somebody else’s night. There! That wasn’t so hard then, was it?
You’ve been eyeing up that special someone across the bar for the whole night. But you don’t have the guts to chat them up, so you stand in line until they think they have the time to spend an evening with you. A few drinks later, your senses numb, and you get a false sense of confidence and security. It’s going great at first, but then you go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like… well, you know!
And the same is true for drinking while gambling. Casinos offer you free drinks, because they know people are more open to spending money when intoxicated. If you thought the drinks were there because they thought you were adorable, well have we got news for you! When there’s a drink in your hand, you tend to feel overconfident, and you start making unreasonable bets. And if you do ever venture into the “party pit,” where the dealers are sitting in bikinis all around, the house advantage goes through the roof, no matter what game you’re playing.
Although the drinks are free, it’s still considered courteous to tip the waiter at least $1. They work for tips, so be kind and make sure you do contribute to their salary. This might also help you limit yourself in terms of how many drinks you take — not to mention the fact that staying sober will help keep you in their good books as well. Now casinos do track your behavior, and if you’re causing a ruckus, they’ll obviously escort you out pretty quickly.
So now we’ve gone over all that, let’s also take a look at some basic casino tips for newbies when it comes to the most common games.
Top Casino Tips for Newcomers to the Game
Before even going to a casino, the primary thing on your to-do list is learning the game you want to play! This may seem like a bit of superfluous advice, but you’d be surprised. It’s essential that you’re aware of what’s going on and why. Just take a look at craps, for instance. It’s a complex game which has many confusing details. So if you’re not fully knowledgeable about the game, you can easily end up steering yourself away from your basic bets and get entangled in some nastier ones that come with truly terrible house advantages.
But you needn’t worry! Games are purposely made to be easy for everyone to learn, after all. As we’ve mentioned before, if they were complicated, people wouldn’t bother learning them. So when you finally gain some experience by playing the game for a while, you’ll be able to spot various patterns in the game, and you’ll become a lot more efficient in next to no time. So let’s just have a quick glance at the basic principles of some of the classic games out there that you can try at any time.
Slots are the most popular of all casino games, to the point where they’re pretty much synonymous with gambling as a whole. Perhaps poker is the only game that can rival the sheer ubiquity of the slots. Some casino games involve a bit of skill; but even so, every casino game relies on luck, at least to some extent. With slots, no skills are needed — they are purely a game of chance. There’s no strategy to it, there’s no knowledge on how you need to play them, and all this makes them an ideal starting point for beginners. Because the truth is, when you finally pull that lever for the first time, you have the same chances of winning as that very same bloke who’s been doing it for the past decade. So how come he seems to win more often than you? That’s because he knows something you don’t — picking the right machine!
Slot machines come with what we call Return to Player (RTP for short). RTP is the opposite of the house edge — it represents how much money the player will win over time. So if a slot has an RTP of 90%, its house advantage is 10%. The key phrase here is “over time.” This doesn’t mean you’ll lose only once every ten rounds, or that you’ll win $90 for every $100. It’s more of an indicator of which game pays better than the other, so you do need to pick the machine with the highest RTP.
Since the outcome of the game is decided by an independent computer mechanism, called a Random Number Generator, there’s no way for you to influence the game. There are plenty of strategies for playing slots online, but they are all based on flawed logic. So just sit back, enjoy the game, and hope Lady Luck will be on your side!
Just like slots, video poker is played on a gaming machine. Because of this, many people see video poker as a slot machine that actually has a bit of skill to it. In this game, you get a hand of five cards, and you decide which ones you wish to replace and which to keep; thereby managing to create the best possible hand.
With video poker, you get the best house edges available in casinos. Namely, video poker machines come with RTPs of 98% and above. The most frequent variant, Jacks or Better, has an RTP of 99.5%. If you play your hands perfectly, it’s theoretically possible to tilt the edge in your favor, with the RTP rising over 100%.
The intent of the game is to get the best possible poker hand. Consequently, you’re going to need the knowledge of poker hand rankings. Game variants differ in terms of what scale of hand ranking charts they’re taking into account. For instance, the lowest hand of Jacks or Better is a pair of Jacks, while the rest are the same as in regular poker. Or again: in Deuces Wild, another popular variant, Twos assume the role of jokers, becoming wilds which replace any other card. The machines come with pay tables, so you can find out exactly what that game rules are. The most popular video poker variants are Jacks or Better, Aces & Eights, Deuces Wild, Double Bonus, and Joker Poker.
Roulette, from its early days, has had an air of luxury and (somewhat snobbish) pomp about it. After all, it originated in France (we’ve laid it out for you, you connect the dots). Roulette is a classic casino game. So when you imagine yourself living that high gambling life, you see yourself putting chips on the roulette table, while Fiona Volpe is laughing at your every joke!
Roulette is a simple game, where you have to rely on your luck to predict where the ball will land. You can select one of the single number spots, or instead, you can make a bet which covers a whole spread of numbers. For example, you can make even money bets, such as half bets, red/black, or even/odds. They pay out the lowest, but they come with the best odds of happening — so if we disregarded the zero spot, that would be a 50–50 bet. However, that zero spot is the one that affects the maths behind the game. So it’s also the differentiating factor between roulette variants.
The two most common variants are European and American Roulette. In the European version, there are 37 slots on the wheel — numbers from 1 to 36, and a zero. In the American version, the layout has 38 spots, as there are two green places (0 and 00). As a result, European Roulette has a better house advantage, sitting at 2.70%, as opposed to American’s 5.26%. Guess which one is more prevalent.
Landing in Normandy
If you’re a roulette player, your goal is to find the third and the original variant — French Roulette. This one comes with the most favorable house edge for the player and, therefore, is the hardest one to stumble upon.
The layout of French Roulette is the same as the European one. The difference is in the rules. The rule that makes it the best is La Partage, or “half-back” rule. With it, every time the ball lands on the zero spot, the house keeps only half of even money bets (those are the ones which have close to 50–50 chances). If you’ve made an even money bet, they return the other half to you, because they are just so good. Consequently, the house edge drops to 1.35%.
Of all card games (and table games in general), you’ll have the best odds of winning from playing baccarat and blackjack. Blackjack is the king of card games, and it shares its crown with poker. In blackjack, the goal of the game is to reach 21, or at least to be closer to it than the dealer. As you can see, you don’t play against other players; your only opponent is the dealer. You have three options — stay (not draw another card), hit (the dealer will add another card to your starting two), or split (separate the initial cards and play on as if you had two hands).
The dealer has the advantage of playing after you, so they already know what your finishing position is. Whoever goes over 21, they bust and automatically lose. Depending on which variant you play and how many decks the dealer uses, the blackjack house edge varies from 0.28% to 1.5%.
Baccarat is similar to blackjack in the sense that you compare your hand with the dealer’s and you’re chasing a certain sum. Here, the goal is to be the closest to 9, but when you go over, you don’t go bust. Instead, you subtract ten from the equation, meaning that if you’re holding a six and a seven, your score is three.
Another distinction is that you don’t necessarily play your hand against the dealer’s. In fact, the game revolves around predicting who will win. There are three types of bets you can make — player bets (your hand wins), banker bets (the dealer wins), or ties. These bets come with house edges of 1.24%, 1.06%, and 14.36% respectively. Consequently, your wisest choice, in the long run, would be just to sit around and play the long game by betting on the dealer every time.
Poker is a game where there’s no such thing as a traditional house edge. Since you’re not playing directly against the casino, there’s nothing they can take away from you (except for the small commission they take for the pleasure of organizing the game). This is the reason why poker usually has the fewest number of tables dedicated to it.
Poker is a game of skill. Unlike the slots, it takes years of practice and experience to master it. The longer you play, the better your brain is accustomed to reading playing patterns and calculating all the possible combinations your opponents might have.
There are three basic types of poker: community card, draw, and stud poker. The most popular one is Texas Hold ’Em, which is a community card poker variant.
In poker, it’s important to know all the hand rankings by heart. You should know at all times whether a Flush is stronger or weaker than a Straight (it’s stronger). After that, there are many details that you need to learn to read. When is it a good time to bluff? How to tell if the opponent is bluffing? Should you go all in or fold? If you’re just starting off your poker journey, sitting down for a high-rollers poker table is perhaps not the wisest choice. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of unwise choices…
Bingo & Keno
Bingo and keno are the two prevalent lottery games. Just like slots, they also completely rely on luck. These two have similar philosophies. You get a play slip (keno) or a card (bingo), with numbers on them. As the caller calls out numbers they or the machine picks out, you mark them on your paper if you have them. Basically, your job is to mark the numbers and pray to the Old Gods and the New so that you win. But they are far worse for the player than slot machines. In fact, many players call keno a suckers’ game. And with the house edge varying from 25% to 35%, depending on the variant, it’s easy to see why.
Bingo is a bit better value for money. Depending on the number of bingo balls in the game, the best you can hope for is 11%, and it only goes higher from there. With the amount of time each round takes, you’ll soon reach the age of the other contestants in the bingo hall, so you’re much better off playing slots!
Similarly, another two games you should definitely avoid are Big Six and Big Wheel, both of which come with a house edge of about 23%.
Sports betting is perhaps the most unique type of gambling of them all, which is why we frequently call players bettors, instead of gamblers. With sports betting, we’re trying to predict the outcome of a sports event, be it a basketball game, a tennis match, or a horse race. So you can see that in this sense, it is indeed pretty similar to other casino games. In roulette, you’re trying to predict where the ball will land — a future event.
However, with sports betting, there’s a lot more information going into it. It’s more than just a simple guess. With slots, there’s nothing that will give you a reason to assume that one round will be a winning or a losing one. In betting, you have a lot of statistics to factor in. Teams’ head-to-head history, form, the difference in quality between opponents, etc. Consequently, you should focus on a sport and a league you’re familiar with. So if you’ve never watched rugby and don’t know what’s going on there, betting on a Six Nations Championship makes no sense.
Sports betting is a mathematical trade, and you gain an advantage by being able to make a better prediction than the bookmakers. Professional bettors use advanced prediction models which calculate more accurate odds, granting them the ability to profit frequently.
But is there even a need in this day and age to make a hassle and go to a casino and learn all the etiquette? Let’s see what it’s like to play online.
Online Casino Tips for Beginners
In the 1990s, the Internet became an unavoidable part of our lives. And it affected the world of gambling as well. While the first few casinos offered only some basic roulette and blackjack games, today the online gambling industry is taking over from land-based casinos. There are thousands of online casinos, and new ones are popping up almost daily, as the logistics of running an online casino are incomparable to those of a physical one.
To begin with, the first and the major advantage of online casinos is their convenience. You don’t have to commute to a different part of town (if you’re lucky enough to have a casino in your city) to play a few spins. It’s also easier to keep your bankroll in check — nobody’s going into a casino to play for just 10 minutes, are they? Here, you can log in whenever you have a few minutes to kill, and you can log out whenever you want, with just one click. But that’s not the only thing that’s better when going online: so let’s start with the games themselves!
Greater Selection, Greater Odds
Online games don’t take up any physical space — other than a minuscule part of the server hardware, of course! Because of this, online casinos are able to offer a much more substantial game library than offline ones. The largest land-based casino in the world, WinStar World Casino in Oklahoma, has around 7,400 gaming machines, which needs more than 600,000 square feet of floor space. However, online casinos can match that number with a single website!
Additionally, you can try out some games for free. The vast majority of online casinos allow players to play a few practice rounds, so you can get accustomed to a game. This way, you’ll be able to get into the intricacies of a specific game without having to spend a single dime!
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it’s easier to win when playing online. For example, online slot machines are a lot more charitable towards the player. Namely, physical machines come with an RTP of around 85–90 percent. Online slots have better payouts, with most of them falling in the 92%–97% bracket. Some go even further north of these numbers, so you can look forward to more frequent wins. Here’s a list of ten slots with the highest RTPs:
- Mega Joker — 99%
- Cosmic Quest: Mystery Planet — 98.95%
- Jackpot 6,000 — 98.86%
- Chess Mate — 98.70%
- 1,429 Uncharted Seas — 98.63%
- Cinema Classic — 98.50%
- Lucky Mermaid — 98.50%
- Golden Legacy — 98.30%
- Sports Fishing — 98.30%
- Taxi Movida — 98.27%
The variety of games has also been affected. With no physical constraints, developers could let their creativity loose. As a result, nowadays we have video slots with six and seven wheels, games with floating symbols, and a diversity of themes.
Games of skill are also easier to play online. Although they don’t give you better odds than slots do, it’s easier to play when there are no cameras, dealers, and other players in the room, monitoring your every move. In the beginning, until you fully learn hand rankings, you can hold a chart next to you at all times, so you can refer to it midgame. The same goes for blackjack and its strategy charts. It’s even more helpful in the case of this game, because blackjack charts are harder to memorize, given their exceptional complexity. So you can keep the charts next to you until you know exactly when to hit and when to stay. Don’t try the same in a brick-and-mortar casino though! So when you think about it that way, online gambling really is ideal for beginners.
Furthermore, since you’re not visible to other players, you don’t have to worry about side things, such as your body language, giving away your position in the pot. Here, you can go for a bluff without a Phil Hellmuth wannabe calculating the speed of your gum chewing.
As you can see, it’s easier to make a strategy for online casino games. However, that’s not where the benefits stop.
Yet another aspect of online gambling which is advantageous to the player is casino promotions. There are so many gambling websites, and if they want to fight off the competition, websites have to come up with a way to stand out from the crowd and attract players. One way they do it is by offering bonuses. And as a player, you need to take advantage of their competitiveness and find the best bonuses available. Some players scour the web trying to find best promotions out there, a strategy which we often call bonus hunting.
In essence, bonuses are free playing chips which can bring you money. Most casinos offer a welcome bonus, usually in the shape of a 100%+ match of your first deposit. Before you claim a bonus, however, do make sure you read the fine print. Because they all come with wagering requirements, and these represent how many times you’ll have to wager the funds before you’re able to take them out. Some websites set WRs too high for the bonus to be actually worth it!
There are also no-deposit bonuses, which you can get without having to put any of your own money in. As you would expect, these bonuses have even higher wagering requirements.
As we’ve already said, there are thousands of online casinos nowadays. Now, one thing you don’t have to worry about with brick-and-mortar casinos is their reputation. It’s just not in their best interest to con players. But with the Internet being an area you can’t easily regulate, how do you tell a reputable casino from a bad one? Well, let’s find out!
Terms and Conditions
Before you decide to join an online casino, you should read a few reviews about it. There are several reputable review websites which have done the research for you and tell you whether you should play in that specific casino or not. Check out which ownership group they belong to, and whether they have a history of scamming players. A good way to tell is by looking at how many online complaints they have, and how much effort they put into resolving them.
One of the things you should definitely check out are the terms and conditions they impose on their customers. This can be a tedious job all of us would rather skip past, but you do need to do it. There are a lot of predatory terms you need to be aware of. In general, any kind of vagueness should set off your alarms. For instance, casinos love to use the phrase “at our sole discretion.” This gives them the right to interpret any situation in a manner that suits them best. Oftentimes, they can claim you’ve committed foul play, locking you out of your account and your funds.
Another thing you need to look out for is the casino’s license. If they don’t state their license clearly, they either don’t have one, or the one they have is not a good one. Some licensing commissions, such as Costa Rica’s, simply don’t care enough to regulate their licenses. Without any supervision, casinos are free to do whatever they want — use doctored software, deny you payments, and withhold your balance. So do make sure you know what you’re dealing with!
T&Cs also contain wagering requirements for their bonuses, so you can know what you need to do to fulfill them, and whether or not it’s profitable to claim them.
When playing online, you have a plethora of options for depositing and withdrawing. Aside from standard credit cards, you can use a variety of e-wallet options, such as Skrill, Neteller, and PayPal. Many casinos also allow the use of cryptocurrency, which is especially handy for those who value their privacy. Cryptocurrency transactions don’t go through regular bank channels, which is an advantage if you’re looking for anonymity.
Online transactions usually take just a few seconds, so the instantaneity is another plus. Just make sure the offered methods suit your needs though! The use of cryptocurrencies is all fine and dandy, but these are ultimately irrelevant if you’re not a bitcoin user.
The first time you request a withdrawal, the casino will ask you to send them a copy of your ID or any other relevant documentation that can confirm your identity. Some see this as a breach of privacy. But today websites use 128- or 256-bit encryption technology, which makes sure that no third party can break in and get hold of your personal information.
Payments are the major part of what makes an online casino reputable, and they usually are the biggest stumbling block as well. They need time to process your payment request and send money over to your account. That’s normal. However, there’s a limit to that — you shouldn’t have to wait past a certain timeframe. The general practice is that anything up to five business days is acceptable. You shouldn’t deal with websites which take more than seven business days to deliver you your money. If they don’t respect your needs, then why should you trust them with your money?
And sad to say, there are indeed such websites where players have had to wait for months on end to receive money. Furthermore, some of them refused to pay their customers at all. So what’s the point of getting an amazing bonus and playing the games with the best odds, when you’re never going to see the money? Of course, casinos don’t advertise the fact they are going to con you, so it’s essential that you do make sure to go through all the reviews and customer complaints.
Live Dealer Casinos
Recently, there’s been a new addition to online casino game libraries. Developers have started working on trying to recreate that very special feeling of being in a casino. With live games, they put you in a room with a live dealer who is surrounded by cameras and microphones. This way, you can play a table game in real time, facing opponents who are all playing at the same time; just like you would in a casino.
Live gaming still has a lot of ground to cover until it becomes popular and fully functional, so brick-and-mortar casinos do still have that social aspect of gambling to bargain with. However, with the development of technology, it’s only a matter of time live dealer casinos catch up.
To recap, here’s a table which compares the advantages of online versus land-based casinos.
Ready for Your First Ball?
Many people decide to stay away from casinos because they’re afraid they would be out of place. But, there’s not really a lot you need to learn about the proper demeanor and etiquette for these places. Just be well-mannered, observe a bit how others behave, and you’ll be good!
It’s important, however, that you know the rules of the game before you start playing it. Because without it, you’re sure to lose money. Start off with games of chance like slot machines and video poker, and then work your way up to more complex games, such as poker and blackjack. Remember that although the games seem overwhelming at first, they are easy to understand once you’ve been playing them for a while.
Finally, decide whether you should play online or in land-based casinos. Online gambling websites offer convenience and several other advantages, but there are plenty of aspects to them that you need to be wary of. Now that you’ve read this guide, you’re ready to set off on your way to becoming a great gambler. Good luck!