How to Navigate a Casino Without Going Broke: A Beginner’s Guide


A dark-haired woman was obviously anxious as she scoured her purse in an attempt to find something. She sat at the end of a blackjack table and hesitantly placed three $20 bills on the felt. As she did it, she admitted to the dealer that she had never played the game before.

He assured her not to worry and told her the table she was at was a friendly one. He also said that everyone involved in the game, including himself, would gladly help a beginner. She met the minimum betting requirement by wagering $10 and was subsequently dealt two cards whose value added up to twenty. The woman’s blackjack debut was a victory.

The dealer wanted to know if she knew what her next step should be. He tried hard not to smile as he prepared to make a point by advising her to walk away while she was ahead.

The majority of people greatly resemble the anxious woman from the story when they first enter a gambling venue. They are eager to gamble; however, they are rather unsure of what to do.

Being in the middle of the crowd at a noisy casino, trying to choose amongst thousands of games while dealing with various distractions, bright and flashy lights being the most prominent one, and staring at seemingly endless amounts of cash and chips can, in fact, be intimidating.

Just remember that the purpose of your visit is to have fun. Gambling venues have become one of the leading entertainment options in the country. As stated by the American Gaming Association, approximately 27% of Americans enter a casino once a year. The cited number grows exponentially as gambling is legalized beyond the territory of the gambling centers of Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Casinos feature a vast selection of different games to attract everyone, from people dreaming of a sum of money that would change their lives to those enjoying the thrill of gambling.

Whether you are a novice or an experienced gambler, you need to remember the golden rule of the activity — the house generally has the advantage, regardless of the game you choose to play. Of course, specific players will win notable sums of money. However, they represent an exception to the general rule. In the long run, casinos win due to the overall structure of the games.

Upon entering a gambling venue for the first time, join the players’ club. Once you do that, you will be able to use your players’ club card every time you gamble at that casino. Such membership entitles you to offers like free or discounted food, hotel rooms, as well as other services provided by the venue. Slot players insert their membership cards into slot machines, whereas table players show theirs to the dealer.


All gambling aficionados face the same challenge — finding a game that appeals to them and offers a house edge that suits their budget. In general, the simpler the game, the higher the house advantage it implies.

Slot machines represent the simplest, and thus, the most widely played games at any casino. The process is easily comprehensible — push the button, watch the reels spin, win or lose, replay. The fact is that slot machines bring more money to gambling venues in comparison to every other casino game — over 70% of the overall income.

Slots generally imply a house edge of about 10%, but the percentage can vary depending on the casino. To put it simply, for every $100 wagered on slot machines in a casino, they deliver approximately $90 worth of winnings in the long run. However, nobody can predict what can happen in the short run. You are equally likely to win a jackpot or lose the money you have invested.

Regardless of all the pieces of advice you might gather elsewhere, a legitimate strategy applicable to slot machines does not exist. A slot game is a game of chance based entirely on luck, in contrast to games that require particular skills, such as poker and blackjack. The outcome of a slot game is determined by a random number generator (RNG), a computer program that randomly generates numbers. Subsequently, corresponding icons show up on the reels. Once you click on the button to start the game, RNG determines the sequence of symbols you will land.

Before choosing a machine, you ought to check the worth of one credit on its display. Note that it can range between one penny and hundreds of dollars. Certain machines allow players to pick the worth of a credit. However, the general rule suggests that the more a credit is worth, the lower the house edge. Dollar machines deliver higher payouts in comparison to quarter machines, whereas the latter offer higher payouts in comparison to nickel machines.

Choosing a penny machine does not suggest you can wager only a penny on every spin. If a particular game features multiple paylines, you can select several of them and bet more than one credit on each.

Slot games intrigue gambling enthusiasts looking for a pastime that does not imply stress. Such people do not need to concern themselves about making a wrong move or affecting other gamblers in some way. A slot machine represents entertainment and is developed in order to appeal to people and make them play longer. There is a wide range of themed slots — some feature characters from a famous movie or TV show, some are designed after a music band, and some are even modeled to resemble a popular board game. Certain machines are connected, which leads to all the participants sharing a bonus round. Some of them even feature surround-sound chairs to create the effect of the so-called “immersion” gaming.

The following games imply low house advantage:

  • Blackjack, provided that you grasp the concept and comprehend when you should hit or stand.
  • Video Poker, on the condition that you choose a good paytable and learn basic rules, implying which cards you should keep and which ones you should dispose of.
  • Baccarat, along with its “mini” form.
  • Craps, a table game that seems complicated but is actually rather simple.


Blackjack is beyond question the most widely played card game. People who apply the basic strategy are able to lower the house edge to 0.5% or less, thus, making blackjack as close to an even-money game as it can possibly be. The majority of players mistakenly believe that the purpose of this game is obtaining cards that add up to a high number without surpassing 21.

However, the actual goal is to outplay the dealer. Players can always choose between two options — hitting or standing, whereas the dealer has to play according to specific rules that apply only to them — hit upon reaching 16 or a smaller number or stand upon reaching 17 through 21. In case you exceed 21, you “bust” and lose money even if the dealer “busts” as well, since the dealer is the last one to make a move. Therefore, if the dealer has a weak up-card, you are advised to stand on a hand between 12 and 16 instead of attempting to achieve a higher number without surpassing 21.

A player can benefit from a game of blackjack due to the fact that it commonly implies 3:2 payouts. However, certain casinos feature games of blackjack that pay 6:5. You are highly advised against playing them. Such games deliver only $12 for a $10 wager, as opposed to the more common ones that pay $15 for a $10 bet. Given that blackjack is formed approximately once every 21 hands, regardless of the variant, playing the one that pays 6:5 costs you around $6 per hour.

There is a vast selection of books and websites that offer basic blackjack strategy tutorials. The best ones are,,, as well as the following authors: Henry Tamburin, Stanford Wong, and Arnold Snyder.


Casinos frequently offer a vast selection of so-called carnival games that are essentially variations of blackjack and poker. Such games comprise Let It Ride Blackjack Switch, Three Card Poker, and Spanish 21. In general, they are easily comprehensible, and therefore, easy to play.

Poker is another widely popular card game. However, it has a certain feature that distinguishes it from other card games — the house is not your opponent; the other gamblers are. The casino profits from poker by collecting $4 or $5 from every pot.

Everyone intending to visit a casino faces the same question — how much money to take with them. There is no universal answer because the amount of money you will bring depends on your budget and the amount of money you are willing to spend at a casino. Similarly, you always know how much a dinner and a show will cost you, as that depends on your preferences. While some people enjoy dining at chain restaurants and see a matinée, others prefer an expensive restaurant followed by a live musical performance.

In the process of planning a trip to a gambling venue, determine the amount of money you are willing to spend on one night’s entertainment. According to a cynical saying, casino executives own everything you have upon walking through the door — you are just a channel through which the assets pass. Therefore, bring the money you can afford to spend. Under no circumstances should you wager the funds you have set aside for medical expenses, bills, or mortgage. After all, you need to be mentally prepared to endure a loss prior to entering a gambling venue.

Nevertheless, that does not suggest you ought to simply waste your money at long odds. Smart gamblers choose games they revel in, and subsequently, make an effort to learn the strategies applicable to them, thus, lowering the house advantage as much as possible.

In case you happen to be ahead after a few hours of play, remember the advice the dealer from the story gave to the anxious blackjack player — walk away.

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