For many, this topic may seem odd, well versed in gambling they see no need for a guide on how to start gambling in Vegas. For others, the whole idea of first putting down your first bet at a Las Vegas Casino is fraught with fear and confusion. We know many people who have been to Vegas and never dared even stake a Dollar. Not through fear of losing the Dollar but simply through not knowing the basics of how Vegas Gambling works. Our Las Vegas Gambling Guide aims to assist you through those first Baby steps so you can enjoy one Of Las Vegas’s oldest and most popular activities. Welcome to our guide on how to Gamble!
What this guide isn’t is a full and comprehensive strategy guide. The internet is full of sites like these and we are not big gamblers and have nowhere near the knowledge that these pages possess, After all, we are Travel Experts(Aledagdly) not Gambling Experts. But sometimes they can lose sight of what it was like to be a true beginner with little or no memory of what it was like to first step in a casino.
We are also not promoting gambling as a lifestyle or hobby, But Las Vegas and Gambling are so synonymous it’s a real shame to not give it a try when you are in the City. Our guide is to get you started as a true LOW roller just so you can have the maximum fun at the minimum cost. Following our advice is very unlikely to make you rich. It will help you avoid the awkward conversation when you get home about why you didn’t do any gambling even though you stayed in a casino.
First of all, we take a quick look at the types of games available. There are a few Main types of Gambling in Las Vegas and all are quite distinct.
In any Casino in Vegas (or anywhere else for that matter), You will see rows and rows of Bright exciting Slot machines. These are easily the most popular way of gambling methods in Vegas. They account for 70% of a casino’s income. Unlike table games, they require little to no staffing and very little floor space and you can feed an incredible amount of money into them in a very short space of time. So it’s easy to see why the casino’s love them but what makes them so popular with gamers, and should you spend your hard earned money on them?
Probably the main attraction of slot machines is the simplicity. The majority of the process is completely automated and there is no requirement to learn a game or any rules. You simply put your money in and off you go. Combine this with the Endless designs featuring themes and styles that are appealing to many. Game Of Thrones, The Big Bang Theory and the Hangover are popular TV/Film themed Games along with more general games like Wheel of Fortune, Cats. Unicorns, Basically, if something is popular and can look Shiney, Bright and colourful, the chances are there is a Slot machine geared around it. The Bright loud fun designs also attract people like flies to a flame. Not to mention the allure of BIG jackpots, including the staggering Progressive Jackpots running into the $millions of dollars.
Really the manufacturers of the machines have invested millions of dollars into understanding the phycology that makes these attractive. With just the right balance of the alure of big payouts balanced with the need to not payout too much. Every machine is programmed to pay out a certain percentage. So for every $milllion put into the machine it will pay out a set percentage, with whats left the House Profit. Most Vegas Machines are between 75 and 90%. So as you can see these are HUGE earners for the casinos.
Does that make them a ripoff or scam? Is anyone likely to actually win? Well if you look at it as an investment then it’s a very poor idea. As an individual you are quite likely to win, The games are programmed to give out regular small and medium wind to keep players interested and hooked and having fun. So feed $20 into a machine and you are likely to be up at some point in the game. Keep going and your chances of losing goes up but so does the chance of a big win, but remember the chances of big payouts is very slim. If like us you are prone to cashing out when up you can often end the evening in profit, but it’s rarely a lot. We have never won more upwards of twice our budget.
If however, you look at the money spent as the cost of entertainment and the experience of playing the machine is an exciting fun experience, which is the way it is supposed to be, then it’s money well spent. Too many people see gambling as something it isn’t, a way to get rich or make money. If you view it as that you are on a hiding to nothing. If the pure joy of the game is worth it then you are doing it right. If you are not enjoying the game, stop playing, go and see a show. Gambling is not for everyone.
The Bottom line is Slot machines are one of the least sensible investments in a casino but the reality is they are just good fun. And if you sensibly set your evenings budget and stick to it, you are paying for simply having a good time. And who knows. Maybe you will hit the big one?
Placing your first bet
Really playing the slots could not be any simpler. Almost all Machines in Vegas no longer accept coins. So you simply feed in a note and off you go. The hard part is choosing a machine. Machines come in a number of different denominations which can be confusing and not always relevant to the cost of a Spin.
Penny($0.1) – Nickel ($0.5) – Quarter($0.25) – Dollar
The denomination is the price of 1 coin. However, that is far from the cost of a Spin. Some machines have multi lines so it’s one coin per line. Some demand more than one coin PER line. Most are programmable so you can choose how many lines and how many coins per line. So when deciding on a machine look what the minimum play value is not the Coin value! While penny machines appear to be the cheapest they can actually be the most expensive. as the “max” setting can by 100’s of coins per line!
You should look for a machine that has a low max setting, as the best payouts come from playing max. We tend to favour the Quarter machines, With a theme that is appealing to us. This seems to give us the best balance of fun, winning potential and longevity of play, which means more free drinks!
Once you have used the buttons to select the required number of coins per spin and number of lines played (which is important as it may be set to the last player’s preferences and the may have been playing big. Then just hit the spin button. Chances are very little will happen. The reels will spin. they will land and nothing will happen. You are now poorer than 5 seconds ago. Keep Spinning and after a few spin you “should” get a win. Every now and then you may get a bonus such as free spins or enter a bonus game where you can win BIG and are usually quite fun especially on comedy based machines such as big bang and the hangover.
You will have seen in the movies when someone wins and the lights flash and sirens sound and the coins flow from the machine. Well, that is no longer how it works. More realistically If you find yourself in the situation you have played long enough and you still have money in the machine, Maybe even more than you started with this can be considered winning! most people stop playing when their money runs out. So it’s time to cash out. There will be a Cash out button somewhere. Simply hit this instead of the spin button and the machine will print a rather uninspiring ticket, called a TITO With whatever credit you still had in the machine on it. These can either be exchanged for cash at a Chip counter or one of the automated machines dotted about. Or of course, you could put them in another slot machine and try and lose it in there?
Every now and then something incredible happens and the machine you are playing will actually decide you are a winner. The lights will flash and the sirens will sound. But no coins will drop. Instead, you will get a message saying “hand Pay!” Don’t worry you have not won a hand. It simply means you have won so much it needs to be verified by a member of staff. Don’t worry someone will have been alerted and on their way. Time to start thinking about some champagne!
Lastly, there are numerous myths that do the rounds about how to beat slot machines they are all wrong. It’s a pure game of chance. The house wins because over time the odds are in their favour Anything can happen in that next spin and it is completely unrelated to the last.
Table Games are the type of games that spring to mind when most people think of casinos. Played with a live Dealer or Croupier on green felt cloth. These games conjure up romantic images of high rolling villans and James bond sipping his Vodka Martini. When you return from your Vegas trip these are the types of games you will remember rather than just sitting feeding money into a slot.
These games are much more difficult to get into. An understanding of the rules is essential and you also have to overcome the condescending stares of the hardened Gamblers who are not too pleased to have a green player fumbling their way through the game. It can be incredibly intimidating.
It’s all part of the experience and there are ways to learn the games and become a master without spending a penny we will come to that later. Most people who visit Vegas want to Shoot craps, Play Blackjack or Spin the roulette wheel. It’s as Iconic as the empire state building or the Hollywood walk of fame.
Table games offer fewer opportunities to strike it rich, in fact for most bets doubling the bet is the most likely outcome, after losing that is! This makes the games less appealing to some as any winnings are hard fought. The slower pace of the games means you can play for longer as you won’t burn through your bankroll as fast as a slot machine. Minimum bets are far larger though! upwards of $20 in some casinos!
The big three of Tables games are the only games a beginner need consider. While there are plenty more available they are harder to find and harder to master. We say just stick to the big 3:
The most famous Table game using cards. Also known as 21, the game is relatively simple in the basic rules but much more complex if you are to play it expertly, which you will be expected to do at most tables Unless you find a very welcoming beginners table. The rules are well known but still, let’s go through the basics. The Basic rules have you playing against a dealer in turn with multiple other players who are also against the dealer but not against you. The main aim is to acquire as high a score as possible without going over 21.
The Dealer will deal each player 2 cards along with 2 for themselves. Player cards are face up, but the dealer’s cards only the second card is face up. The players then make their plays in turn from right to left. only when a player is finished his turn does the game more to the next player. each player may make multiple “moves” before moving on.
If you get 21 with your first two cards you win automatically. This is achieved with an ace and a 10 (10, Jacks, queen and king all score 10) This is called a Blackjack and the returns are greater than a normal win but the amount depends on the table.
If you do not receive a 21 on your first hand you can make any of a number of moves to improve your hand. Each move has a special hand signal used to indicate your intention to the dealer. You don’t need to use these but its encouraged as it means the cameras can see what your intention is (you did know “they” were watching you right?) watch and learn from your fellow players.
Stand / Stick
The player is happy with the hand and the game moves on
Signal – Wave hand across your cards.
Request another card, Remember your aim is not to go over 21!
Signal – Tap the table once
If the two cards are the same the player can split the hand. Meaning two more cards are drawn, one each placed on the two split cards. You also need to double your bet. You then need to play both hands individually – remember NEVER split two tens, or the whole table and the entire internet will explode in RAGE!
Signal – Place down the extra Chip(s) and make V/Splitting sign with two fingers.
Signal – Sometimes a bet is hand is SO good and the Dealers SO bad you might want to increase your bet. You are only allowed to Double it though and this comes at the cost of receiving one and only one more card.
Signal – Place your bet then Tap the table with one finger
Sometimes the chances of winning are next to nothing and you may want to jack the hand in. If surrendering is allowed which it often isn’t the Dealer will let you, but only after the first 2 cards are drawn and they will only refund half your bet.
Signal – None, ask verbally
You may repeat these steps over and over until you are happy with your hand or you go bust, Over 21, in which case you lose. If everyone loses the dealer doesn’t play their hand Likewise if everyone gets blackjack.
Assuming someone remains 21, once everyone has played the dealer now plays their hand. If they end lower than you, you win, if they are higher, you lose, if they bust, you win. If they are the same it’s a “Push”. meaning you get your bet back as if nothing ever happened.
That’s it, the dealer then just repeats the game. With you placing at least the minimum bet indicating you are in.
Make sense ?…
Simply knowing the rules of how to play is only the first small step, next you have to work out WHY you would do any one of the above steps. While simply playing for fun and guessing your way through can be a giggle, you will find a lot of the other players will be less amused!
A lot of people play by what is known as BlackJack Strategy and it’s often expected you do the same. This basically means the following of set plays depending on which cards you and the dealer are delt. As a total newbie, you are going to have far too much going on to be worrying about tables and which plays you must play. The first time I sat down at a table the stress and pressure meant everything just went blank and despite months of practising the ability to recall any strategy went. Playing whatever I wanted, despite being chastised by the player to my left meant I left the table well up. Playing perfect strategy means minimising your losses playing a bit more randomly means you are more likely to lose but over the short term anything can happen, and you may well be afflicted with Beginners luck as I was. Much to the annoyance of those around.
Still the more confident with the rules and the game the better so we still advise a lot of practice. We use Strategy Trainers that score your plays to check if you are playing right. Get these scores down so you are normally right and you have a chance of doing OK when you hit the tables.
Placing your first bet
First off don’t stress out too much, this is meant to be fun. Find a very low minimum bet table, $5-10. You may need to head to a lower end casino to find this as the BIG hitters are unlikely to have low minimums certainly not at peak times. Before barreling in watch the table a little. If the table looks dead with grumpy men and a miserable dealer, give it a miss, they are unlikely to welcome a fumbling beginner. and remember, this is supposed to be fun.
Once you have found a table with a smiling Dealer and friendly happy players simply ask if it’s OK to join, it will be. You’ll notice everyone has chips but you don’t. No problem the Dealer will change your cash for chips. As the game starts you will notice no one speaks they just place the minimum bet down. Do the same, don’t delay or the dealer may prompt you, we tend to hold the next bet ready, it helps as a distraction too.
And that’s it the dealer will do the rest just remember to do the magic hand signals whenever it’s your play. Playing blackjack is really easy. Playing it well is harder, We will let you know how hard once we have mastered it!
Roulette is popular as on the face of it there is no skill involved and it’s all just the luck of the spin. Quicker profits and bigger wins are also possible and the house edge appears quite small, however, the truth is it’s actually one of the worst games for odds. Anyone unfamiliar with roulette can very quickly learn the game.
The large wheel spins and a ball is released eventually landing on a coloured number. Bets are made before the ball is released by placing chips on the corresponding squares on which you think the ball will land. Numbers run from 0-36. 0 is green and is the house edge any time the ball hits 0 everyone loses. Other than that a $10 bet on any number will return 1/36 odds. Meaning you win $360. The reality is guessing the correct number is difficult 1/37 odds are pretty long. In theory, it will only come up once every 37 spins, in reality, it could take 10,000 spins or 1. That’s the fun of gambling right.
To make the game more appealing there are a number of other shorter bets you can place. These have shorter odds and win more often, but offer smaller payouts. Most common are the 50-50 bets which offer simple 2-1 payouts, $10 wins $20. These are Red/Black, Odd/Even and Low/High(1-18/19-36).
We tend to play the red/black for no real reason than that’s how we like to play.
The Martingale Strategy is often touted as the best but we rarely find this a good way to play. On the Surface, it sounds good but it’s full of holes…well it has one BIG hole. The strategy says you bet low on red or black (or any other 50/50) if you win great. If not then just double your bet keeping the same colour and keep doubling until you win. You will ALWAYS win. Great. Only you won’t, for one the bets add up fast! even on a $1 minimum table (rare) after only 8 losses the bet is up to $128. Lose that and it’s $276 and all this to win a $1.
You probably think 8 spins of the same colour in a row are impossible after all it’s 50/50(ish). It’s not, it happens far more often than you imagine. Table limits will be set to make a losing streak quite likely. You also need a big stack to cover the potential losses. If you are lucky with this technique, and patient you should walk away up. But it’s not very fun. And eventually, you WILL hit a losing streak.
We much prefer the Reverse Martingale Technique, With this technique instead of doubling on your losses, you double when you win. As we said a continuous streak is more common than you like and with this technique you are riding your winning streaks which is far more exciting, and wins are as big as you dare (or as big as the table limit allows). It’s far riskier and can lead to your balance disappearing fast. It is much more fun though and feels like you are actually gambling rather than doing maths.
There are other strategies but we don’t advise these for beginners.
Practice your strategy and here and see how easy it is to get a losing run!
Placing your first bet
Like Blackjack look for friendly or beginner tables. Low table minimums are a must as playing $25 a spin will not last long without a hefty bankroll. Simply ask to join and then we recommend sticking to red or black. Choosing which is the hard part, then simply place your chips (ask the Croupier to exchange if you haven’t got any) on your colour of choice, or instruct the Croupier. We advise Table minimum to extend playing time. The betting will end when the Croupier releases the ball. When it settles you will either have doubled your bet or lost it. Keep going with your chosen strategy.
Somewhere in between a table game and a slot machine. Video Poker is a virtual Poker game where you are simply rewarded for creating certain hands from cards drawn at random by the computer. There are many varieties offering slight variants on the game.
The most basic version is Jacks or better where you must as a minimum find a pair of jacks or higher to win. After the first draw of 5 cards, you can hold any all or none of the cards. The Computer will then draw new cards for all the ones you didn’t hold. This is your final hand if you have any winning hand the computer pays out based on a pay table that should be displayed (don’t play if not). Winning hands include:
Jack or better – any pair of jacks or higher (Queens, Kings, Aces)
Two Pairs – Any Two Pairs such as 2,2,5,5
Three of a Kind – Any three cards such as 7,7,7,
Straight – 5 consecutive cards such as 1 2 3 4 5 etc…
Flush – 5 cards of the same suit such as 1,6,9,10, ace of clubs
Full House – One three of a kind and one pair such as 5,5,9,9,9
Four of a kind – four cards the same such as 3,3,3,3
Straight Flush – 5 consecutive cards all of the same suit such as 3,4,5,6,7 of hearts etc….
Royal Flush – 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace all of the same suit
Placing your first bet
Playing Video Poker could not be easier. Simply feed in some cash and start playing.
Sports Book betting is simply placing bets on the outcomes of live sporting events. Bookmakers will offer odds on just about any imaginable possibility in a game or match. Points scored, first scorer, or just commonly the actual outcome. Almost all mainstream sports are covered. and things get especially exciting during BIG events.
We are not very big fans of Sportsbook Betting. Maybe this stems from being from the UK and having a “Bookie” on every high street and that association with grumpy old men betting their kids inheritance away while drunk. It’s not a very glamorous thing in our country, we also have endless apps and websites if we want to place a bet on a sporting event. Because of this, we have never much bothered with the Sportsbook areas of the casinos. We don’t really have any meaningful advice. The only time we would consider it is if there was a big game (or fight) on we wanted to watch and decided a few bets might make that experience better.
During our next trip we endeavour to build a complete picture of what sportsbook betting in Vegas is really like, but for now, there is a wealth of information out there on tactics and strategy. From a Beginners perspective, sports betting is probably not where we advise beginning unless as stated there is an event on of particular interest.
Live poker is where real players take on each other in head to head poker matches. This is not beginner territory in any way. The game is more about reading body language than anything else a full grasp of the nuances of the game is essential before going near a live match. Anyone who looking to partake in this level of gambling is far more advanced than us, out only advice, if you are reading this article, probably give Live Poker a Miss this time around.
Practice Practice Practice
The best way to get used to playing any type of Las Vegas Gambling game is to practice. We have included links to trainers for all our games and they are all free to play. The Trainers help you perfect strategy and see what works well and what doesn’t. You can see the pitfalls in any of the internets Perfect Strategies. The only exception is Slot Machines. The Slot manufacturers are protective of their designs and intellectual property and don’t like people recreating the games online. But as there is no strategy for slot machines getting the hang of the basic play is all that’a need, only the bonus games may take a little understanding but they are always fun and very intuitive.
Free Video Poker Trainer
Free Blackjack Trainer
Free Roulette Trainer
Free Craps Trainer
Loyalty Schemes And Freebies
One great perk of gambling while in Vegas is the opportunity to bag free stuff as a reward for playing. However, Margins have tightened over the years and things are nowhere near what they used to be. We would imagine anyone reading this will be highly unlikely to break the sort of gambling numbers that would no entitle them to any freebies. In years gone by this might not have been the case but the corporatization of the strip has eroded these perks to almost nothing for anyone but the highest roller.
While this used to be the provision of pit bosses who were authorised to hand out bonuses to whoever they saw fit it’s now the realm of Loyalty schemes. You sign up and receive a card and then use this everytime you play. In return for this, you receive rewards back in the same way you would with any reward card. However, unless you are heading in the $1000’s of dollars the rewards are pretty irrelevant.
The exception to this is the reward scheme for the hotel you plan to stay in. That would be Total rewards for CES (Ceasers) properties or M-Life for MGM Properties. In this case, you can sign up before you leave and use earn rewards on your hotel spend. It’s still pretty limited amount, however.
One big plus of the M-life Reward scheme is the My Vegas Apps and Facebook game. With this, you can earn REAL rewards while playing casino-style games beforehand. It a free game and with a little patience, you can earn some pretty decent rewards such as free shows, free rooms, free buffets or free credit to play in the casino. Free credit is a great way to open your gambling account as it is completely risk-free.
More on MyVegas here
The other Freebie you can get while gambling it the famous Vegas free drinks. However even these are diminishing.
Final Word – Remember the Casino ALWAYS wins…However,
The old adage of the Casino always wins is as true today as it’s ever been. However, it’s not as true as you think it is. If it were they would go out of business. Gambling relies on the player enjoying the activity. A game where you are guaranteed to lose is hardly fun.
The Phrase the casino always wins refers to the House Edge. This means the odds are always slightly in the Casinos favour. This means for every million bets the Casino will end up paying out less than it takes. So if Millions of dollars are out through the casino the profit will be significant.
This, however, has very little effect on the individual gambler. You can quite easily beat the casino the whole model the casinos use guarantee some will win and some will lose. People everyday walk out of casinos with more cash than they took in. Yes over a long enough timeline the casino will win unless you are one of the professionals who know how to manipulate the odds into there favour. But that’s not you and just like the casino’s that requires you to wager thousands of dollars to make a small profit.
The way we recommend casual gamblers who just want to have a bit of fun while in the city to play is to simply set a budget for every day/night you want to play and just view that as a cost of entertainment. If you went to see a show it would cost. You would enjoy it, but you wouldn’t expect to get your money back? It’s the same with playing in the Casino only you might actually come away with more than you started with, it’s even possible to win BIG and leave very rich, this, however, is incredibly unlikely. But doubling your $50 playing money is certainly likely. We have often achieved this, in fact, we very rarely leave vegas down. That, of course, is if you discount the $100’s we spent staying in the hotel and eating and drinking. You see, no matter what the casino always wins one way or another.