Gambling for Beginners: Basic Casino Etiquette

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Maybe you’re a fan of Casino Royale. Maybe you just turned 18 and want to have some fun. Maybe you’re just looking for a fun weekend. Either way, you’re not alone.

Around 600,000 Australians play the pokies at least once per week. And while you may not be looking to make a regular habit of gambling, there are certain rules you need to follow to ensure everyone has a good time.

Before you visit a casino, it’s important to understand the basics of casino etiquette. Here are a few essentials you need to know on the subject.


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What You Need to Know

Before you ever set foot in a casino, though, there are a few things you should know to be prepared.

The House Always Has an Advantage

The first is simple: the house always has an advantage.

This isn’t achieved by cheating you or fixing games. They don’t need to cheat, because every game (except blackjack and video poker) has a built-in profit on every bet. This is called the house edge.

It’s pretty simple.

If you bet on the flip of a coin, the odds are 50/50. This is an even money bet. If you bet a dollar and were paid a dollar when you won, you’re being paid true odds.

However, if the casino only pays 95 cents for every dollar you won in a bet, then the house edge is 2.5%. Basically, the house edge is the difference between the true odds and the odds the casino pays when you win. All casinos do this in order to make a profit.

In addition, certain games are innately structured in a way that gives the house an advantage, some more than others.

They don’t need to rely on luck–the math is always on the house’s side. Go into every game assuming the house has the upper hand.

Start with a Fixed Amount You’re Willing to Lose

Next, let’s get clear on something: gambling is not a lucrative way to make money.

Aside from the fact that the math is always in favour of the house and the house doesn’t need to rely on luck to profit, the gambler is relying almost exclusively on luck (unless they’re cheating).

With that in mind, you should walk onto the casino floor with a set amount of money you’re comfortable playing with/losing forever and stick to that number. Ideally, you should take out cash and leave your ATM card in your hotel room to minimize temptation.

And above all, DO NOT take out more money to make up what you lost (once again, leave your cards locked up in your hotel room). Set hard boundaries, stick to them, and approach gambling as a mode of entertainment, not a revenue stream.

Casino Etiquette

With that in mind, let’s cover a few essentials of casino etiquette.

Leave Your Phone at Home

First things first: your phone, like your ATM cards, should be left at home, in the car, or in your hotel room safe.

There are a couple reasons for this.

First, we live in a world where people are trigger-happy with their phone cameras. There are a few instances where this can get you into trouble, and casinos are one of them, as the casino has no way of knowing you’re not trying to cheat.

Second, it’s a matter of politeness.

No one likes that person who breaks up a game with texting or a phone call. It’s immensely rude to the other gamblers, who are spending valuable time and money to enjoy a game.

Don’t be that person. Leave your phone at home.

Besides, if you put down your phone and pay attention, you might actually stand a chance of winning.

Know the Rules

Next, you should know the rules of any casino game before you start playing.

It seems like common sense, but you’d be amazed how many newbies walk into a casino without the first clue about how to play any of the games.

Not only will this cost you a lot of money, but it will also irritate your fellow gamblers to no end.

Many casinos will lend you a helping hand, and some will designate a newbie table where beginners can play with practice chips before they’re unleashed to the wilds of tables playing with real money.

But as a rule, it’s a good idea to come in knowing the basics of a few common house games, like the rules of poker or blackjack strategies.

Pick the Right Games

Of course, it’s not enough to know the rules of the games. You also need to know how to pick the right games.

This isn’t because any one game is better to play than others, but rather because different games offer different gambling experiences.

If you’re looking to use a bit of skill and actually try to win some money, go for games that have better odds for players who actually know how to play, such as:

  • Blackjack
  • Baccarat
  • Poker
  • Craps

If you want to lounge with a cocktail and have fun for a little while, go for games that are easy to learn, such as:

  • Slots
  • Roulette
  • Keno

Slots are a good single player game, and most people can catch on pretty fast (plus, it’s easy to catch a waitress’s attention and grab a cocktail). Roulette is one of the easiest table games to learn, while keno is basically a mini-lottery designed for you to sit back, watch TV, have a drink, and play other games.

Joining a Game, Buy-Ins, and Stakes

Another key element of casino etiquette is knowing how to join a game, buy-in, and work with stakes.

Before you sit down at a table, read the little placard that gives the minimum and maximum buy-ins. Most casinos offer a range of minimum buy-ins, but low buy-in minimum tables tend to be crowded, especially during peak times (between 11 PM and midnight).

Do not insult the table or the dealer by trying to buy in below the minimum.

The same rule applies to stakes–you should know what a table’s stakes are before you sit down so that you can bet accordingly throughout your run. It’s okay to ask questions once or twice, but continuous questions will throw off the entire game.

Once you’ve found a table you’d like to join, take a seat and wait politely until the hand, spin, or throw has concluded before you attempt to buy in. Attempting to buy in during a hand will distract the dealer, disrupt the game, and annoy other players. The same rule applies to cashing out.

You should also refrain from handing your money directly to the dealer. Instead, lay it in front of you so it can be counted in view of the camera.

And to be clear: you should not sit down at a table if you don’t intend to play there, even if you’re just watching your friend play.

Keep Your Head On Straight

Once you’ve joined a game, it’s important to keep your head on straight and stay patient.

Remember, the whole goal of a casino is to take your money and send you home with a smile on your face. It’s entertainment, and casino personnel work hard to keep that fun atmosphere alive.

Suffering a bad beat is a part of gambling, whether you’re playing poker at your kitchen table or blackjack on a crowded casino floor. If you do lose, maintain your composure–everyone has been where you are, and no one’s in the mood to hear you complain about your losses.

Don’t take it out on the dealer or other players, no matter how much you lost or how close you were to a win. Don’t celebrate when someone else loses big either, even if they’re your least favourite person on this Earth.

The same thing applies to winning. Don’t be obnoxious about it.

Don’t Give Unsolicited Advice

A big part of gambling in a casino setting is being polite and gracious to other gamblers. You’re all in here for a fun time.

That said, it can be easy to want to offer advice, especially if you see someone struggling.

While it is okay for you to ask a word of advice from your dealer or fellow gamblers, it’s not okay for you to offer advice unless explicitly asked. The same thing applies to criticism of another player.

The only time this rule can be flexible is in poker, as it can sometimes be advantageous to you to try to put another player off balance by suggesting they should have played a hand differently.

That said, unless you’re a professional or highly experienced poker player, you should use this tactic with extreme caution, if only because you don’t want other players to push back at you.

Plus, if you’re new to a casino, you have no way of knowing whether the person you just needled is a regular, which may turn the entire table against you.

Ready to Walk on the Casino Floor?

Now that you know the basics of casino etiquette, are you ready to have some fun?

If you’re still iffy on the specifics of games, no worries. Check out our blog for more helpful guides on strategy, like this post on how to create an advanced baccarat strategy.

Or, if you’re looking for a place to gamble, check out our local guides for pointers.

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