A Gentleman’s Guide to Casino Gambling

vegas_vacation_va_WTetBa_PosterThere is a certain etiquette that I believe has been lost in today’s gambling culture that I would like to restore. If you don’t like gambling or casinos then this article is not for you. Gambling is a personal decision and you won’t be judged here if you decide to quit reading. I happen to like gambling and these are a few observations on how I believe people should act while in a casino.

It’s not your living room so dress accordingly

Gone are the days when men wore suits and ladies wore evening dresses in casinos. Thank goodness. I’m not going to that extreme because that seems like a waste of effort to me. But pajamas and sweat pants tell me that you have simply given up on life. They have already invaded our airports; must they poison our casinos too? I’m not asking for much here, just more than half a shirt with sleeves for the men and something that covers your beer gut for the women. I don’t want to have to look at your sagging butt while I lose my shirt at the tables. Sorry, that was horrible.

Yes, it’s rigged

I love when people exclaim in casinos “this place is rigged.” Yes, it is and they tell you so right on the felt. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but in the long term you are going to lose. Steve Wynn, the owner of many casinos in Vegas, told “60 Minutes” that he had never known a professional gambler who made money and that the only way to make money in a casino is to own one. When you lose in streaks it’s not because the casino is picking on you personally, the odds are. They don’t need to install any extra rigging into machines or table games because all they have to do is wait. Over time the odds catch up to the players. No one wants to hear your conspiracy theories because they are about as obvious as saying, “I touched some fire and it was hot,” yep, welcome to fire.

Pay attention to odds

Blackjack_000Once you’ve accepted that the odds aren’t in your favor, make sure that they aren’t less than they should be. Casinos are clever in that they change pays and pay tables in order to increase the house edge without you knowing if you aren’t paying attention. This can be an addendum to the last sections because this is where the “rigging” comes into play. Good examples are blackjack pays and video poker. Every blackjack table tells you what getting a blackjack pays. The best you can find is “3 to 2” and the worst is “6 to 5.” The percentage change is slight but over time, which is what the house has, that slight change in house edge adds up. But the casual gambler may not pick up on this or care to let it ruin their good time. Video poker house edge is measured by what getting a full house or a flush pays per credit bet. In the game “Jacks or Better,” the best payout is 9 for a full house and 6 for a flush or “9/6.” The worst is “6/5.” If you’d like an in depth breakdown of the odds of every casino game everywhere, I’ll refer you to the “Wizard of Odds” website.

Don’t be jealous of people winning

Most people in casinos are losing so there is a tendency to be jealous of other people’s success. I hate being at a table and getting shot dirty looks by players when I win. Isn’t that why of sitting here? I’m not looking for a pat on the back but you really shouldn’t care if I win or lose. I also like winning something on a slot or video poker machine and have someone say, “Oh man, I was just playing that.” So, what? You squeezed all the bad luck out of it and I profited off your misfortune? No, I got randomly lucky. Hooray for me.

Don’t be a gamble watcher

Some people love to just watch people gamble and it’s kind of weird. It’s one thing if it’s someone you know or you are trying to learn a game, but please stop living vicariously through my risked money.

If it’s not your money, you have no right to criticize

The reason I don’t play blackjack is I think it’s boring, but I also don’t like the criticism some players have of my decisions. For example, if you hit something that you shouldn’t and take a card that would have benefitted the next player or caused the dealer to bust, some people take issue. You can express your derision if you want, but how about if one of my decisions benefits your hand, we split the profit? No? Then hush. You are responsible for your bets and I’m responsible for mine. If you chose to play with someone you think is causing you to lose, then that is your mistake even if it is misguided.

Stop blaming the dealer

It is amazing the abuse dealers take sometimes. They want you to win, idiot, so stop blaming them for your losses. They work for the house, but their wages depend mostly on tips, which they typically don’t get unless a player is winning. In fact, most dealers, the good ones anyway, will provide you with good advice on how to play a game in order to maximize your chance of winning. Don’t be afraid to ask them what to do. Obviously people are different and this doesn’t apply to everyone, but it holds true for most.

Tipping

I don’t understand people who don’t tip in casinos. I worked for tips for many years and I understand that some people are allergic to it, but if it is apart of the culture, you should participate. You have to remember that the employees of casinos do not participate in the profits of the house. They get paid a small wage and then largely depend on tips for their living. There isn’t a set formula for tipping or a set percentage because there are so many variables. Dealers don’t expect you to tip if you’re losing. It can also get annoying when every employee expects a tip such as the cashier. I guess if I won a ridiculous amount I may tip one, but I don’t believe you get gratuity for changing my chips into cash. Tipping is up to you, but not doing it is rude and brings about bad karma in a place where you could use all the help you can get.

I know this list won’t eradicate the jerks and chumps in casinos because unfortunately it comes with the territory. But if you take my advice, it will improve your experience and that of others while gambling. The purpose of gambling is to have fun, you win some and you lose some, but don’t ruin everyone’s good time by being a turd.

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88 thoughts on “A Gentleman’s Guide to Casino Gambling

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a casino. I love them! Your tips are right on the money. I researched how to play Craps for a book I was writing. I was so enthused, I told my husband he *had* to take me to a casino so I could play. I *knew* I would win. He just laughed at me. I’m still lamenting the money not won. 😉

  2. Since we don’t have casinos in Hawaii I’ll just have to store up all this good advice for when, and if, I ever go to the Mainland. In the meantime I want to thank you for following my blog of papermudandme.wordpress.com. Hope I can give you material to keep you entertained when you are not at the casino, or trying to keep you New Year’s resolutions. – Yes I read them too. – Thanks again and Aloha – pjs.
    P.S. – Incidentally I’ll be following you to see how well you keep you resolutions.

  3. As a former table games dealer I agree, I definitely think etiquette is lacking in casinos. We weren’t allowed to give tips on maximising winnings to players though, just how to play the game. And I used to get screamed at by players all the time if they were on a losing streak. Especially high-rollers or the rich idiots. Like how is that the dealer ‘s fault? I don’t get why people don’t realise that the house always wins. If not no one would open a casino.

  4. I could have taken the script from my conversations Saturday night at MD Live! and written your post. Everything from the clothing to the karma. I was playing Mississippi Stud. I, like you, don’t like blackjack. I play mostly table games and some video poker. Some at the table were winning, some were losing. Some were breaking even (I consider that winning!). There was one guy at the table who kept hitting big. Betting big and hitting great hands. As I sat there and watched him collect lots and lots of $25 chips and not tip the dealer, I got a little frustrated for her. I probably shouldn’t have opened my mouth, but I did. Rather than come right out and tell the guy he was being an asshole I decided to tell my 3 card poker story at Harrah’s, AC. My hubby and I were playing 3 card with 6 card bonus. Just sat down at the table and lady next to me was bitching and moaning that the dealer didn’t give her any good hands, it was rigged, she was leaving, etc…Well guess what? She hit the million dollar hand. LITERALLY. 6 card Royal of diamonds. Guess what she tipped the dealer after over an hour of review by the eye in the sky? $100. That’s it. $100. After I told that story the guy at my Mississippi Stud table started tipping the dealer!
    Going to Foxwoods next weekend. Wish me Luck!

  5. I am an admitted casino dunderfuck, though I do try not to go out in public wearing sweatpants or pajamas, ever! When they first opened a casino near us, it was free beer for anyone who was gambling. FREE BEER! Holy fuck! I was in college and the casino became my most favoritest place in the world. Life went downhill pretty fast, but what a ride!!!

  6. Great post! I especially like your recommendation to the black jack players. I’m decent at black jack, I’ve studied the “right” and “wrong” moves and even then have been yelled at for not hitting/staying when the next person thought I should have. I don’t like being yelled at. I quickly cowered to the video poker machine where I could lose money in silence and without judgement…next to the dude in the pajamas 🙂

  7. I’m a craps man myself – I stopped playing blackjack precisely for the reason you note above. I hated to play MY hand then get screamed at by the guy next to me because I cost him all his money.

  8. It’s so funny you say this…I went to a casino for the first time a little over a year ago and work a cocktail dress and felt overdressed (but plenty of men gave me their chips to gamble with so I suppose I did something right), my mom told I was supposed to dress nicely though so I was under the impression they had a dress code…………..I stuck with roulette because it was only game the dealer took the time to explain to me and I won a little over $5000 my 2nd roll so I tipped her nicely partly because she was so nice and also because I thought it was nice thing to do…then I stuck to slots until the power went out and flirted with a casino manager to get my money back……there is something to be said about dressing nicely as a female in a casino!

      • two spins it was my 2nd spin I spent $20 in chips and I put them on random #’s honestly….I still really don’t completely understand roulette I thought u just had to hit the # but you can split and hit colors and some mess….and the casino does give you your money back if they can run the program on your machine and have it register a saved “play”…that doesn’t always happen…however that damn storm did gain the casino a s**t ton of money there were some PISSED off people that night

  9. I once won a 5-lb canned ham for impersonating my pet companions on WBZ’s Original Amateur Minute…much ado about nothing…

  10. Enjoyed your post. I’ve never been to a casino and I’m no gambler (only pennies on Kings and Pontoon) but about 30 years ago it was always guaranteed that after a party we would end up getting the cards out. I did pretty well most of the time, winning the rent on 2 occasions, but never lost significantly. Unfortunately, the other participants weren’t really in a position to lose as much as they did, so I drew the line, and we’d only use the ‘house pot’ of pennies. We had some crazy nights though and kept our friends.
    More recently, I went to Bingo in the local village and on my first night walked away with 7 prizes, including the Star Prize of a massive Easter cake and cake stand. No way could the 2 of us eat it all, so I took it to the local Old People’s Home and asked if they’d like it in exchange for two slices for us.
    Not being a drinker either, I shared the wine with the friend I went with. (Hope you don’t think I’m boring!)

  11. Craps is a fun game. I have never played but I have been the dice roller a couple of times. That has it’s perks. Honestly, it’s a tough game to learn…don’t know how anyone understands it. Although trying to learn after 4 or 5 vodka’s might make it challenging…I dunno.

    Great post!

  12. I don’t gamble and you lost me when you got to odds. I do like to gawp at people in casinos though. It’s all part of the people watching game. But as far as I’m concerned, casinos are good for a cheap night’s stay with our RV and breakfast the next day!

  13. Hehe. I enjoyed this post. I only ever play a little roulette for fun and even then only corners or splits. And I’m one of those people the house probably mildly dislikes because I play small and I’m quite disciplined at quitting while I’m ahead. But I recognise all of the above! Oh the pyjama people… I feel so dejected when I see them. And the jealous ones who congratulate you in a sour or over-enthusiastic passive-aggressive way– ever had those? I find then quietly amusing! 🙂

  14. I go in with 100$ and when I lose it I go home. If I win more, I stash the initial investment and increments of 10$ and only gamble with the excess. Oh, and Im chubby, but I respect myself enough to wear real pants, everywhere. I want to scream when I see people, especially fat people who have given up on clothes. If you can still wear people clothes, you have no excuse. I own cocktail dresses, ect from when myself and an ex used to go out to the casino every weekend. Nothing says class like a vintage fur stole, pumps and a gold filtered Nat Sherman Fantasia.

  15. I read somewhere that somebody developed a mathematical model to explain why casinos didn’t need to be rigged. It’s called Gambler’s Ruin and effectively works on the basis that the casino has a helluva lot more money than you and even if there was a 50-50 chance of winning, running through the model the casino’s upper limit (effectively ‘winning’) was so high that the gambler never got there.

    It was applied to the science of extinction of species in the 90s.

    No idea why I know that or why any of that is even remotely relevant. Or interesting.

    But there we go. Enjoyable post – I too deplore the decline in the ability of modern humans to wear clothes.

  16. Growing up in Reno, I witnessed all these atrocities and more. My sister was a dealer for many years and it was amazing how she didn’t punch someone in the gut for blowing smoke in her face, spilling drinks and not tipping.

    Great post. M

  17. This was really entertaining and well-written. I don’t have a ton of experience gambling (and I was losing right off the bat, so even had I known to tip the dealer I still wouldn’t have been able to), but I can definitely relate to much of what you are saying. It’s a nice fancy place, full of shiny decor and tacky flashing lights. At least pretend to dress the part!

    The few times I played blackjack, I always hated people who wanted to coach me on how to play. I don’t know anything about you. You’re a stranger sitting near me. Get off my back.

  18. I LOVE blackjack and agree wholeheartedly with everything you have written. I always look for a fun table and dealer. There’s no worse way to gamble than a quiet table with a burned out dealer who hates the players and hopes they lose. And there’s no more fun way to gamble than a table laughing and collectively cheering for each other with a dealer who’s rooting for you too.
    Here’s hoping we end up at the same blackjack table sometime with lady luck smiling on us.

  19. I’m not a gambler myself; was thoroughly put off gambling when at the age of six my mother picked a horse out at random running in the Grand National and put a pound on it to win – needless to say it romped in at 140 to 1 – that was forty odd years ago so a hell of a lot of money! And my reward? A sodding ice cream! Other than that, I did thoroughly enjoy your post!

  20. How can you not follow a guy that has a title “Just another idiot on the internet..Great” That´s a damn good one liner.
    I agree on most part anyways, about people dressing nice…yep, here in Spain is tradition or better said an important occasion to most people to go to casinos, is not that usual here so people always go on their best clothings . How can you not like Black Jack? That´s my bread and butter! And the tipping….I guess, me too have worked a lot in the restaurant-hotel business for almost six years and I litterally lived out of tips for eating day in and day out. But when it get´s to others if I had a bad day, meaning no good earnings I tend to think twice.

    Anyways, cool interesting blog I found, so thanks for stopping by my crazy un paid blog.

  21. True point about jealousy – what’s the point, we’re all here to win. I know whenever I get in a poker game and a guy has a really good (if not better than mine) hand, I can do nothing but smile, sometimes laugh, and say “nice hand” or “well played”. That’s why it’s called gambling – everyone’s out to see if they can “beat the odds.”

    By the way, thanks for the follow buddy 🙂 If you like beer, be sure to check out my “For The Weekenders: Get Your Beer Fix” post I wrote last week.

    Cheers,

    Rego

  22. I’ve always said, if I had a few hundred dollars to blow, I’d go shopping. At least that is a sure thing! Hahahaha….Great article. Really enjoyed it. Gonna pass this along to my brother who does enjoy going to Vegas! Cheers!

  23. ::Grins:: I had to see what your blog was about and for some reason this immediately caught my eye. I was a dealer and no dealer I have ever met has ever hoped the house would win- not even the ones competitive by nature. I think more people should have attitudes as you do, the negativity seems to only make the karma and the atmosphere worse. I dealt a lot of BlackJack though. My best advice: When someone is being a turd then walk away, don’t encourage it and don’t expect the play to get any better.

  24. A beer drinker and gambler who knows not to wear pajamas in public. I think you might be my long lost brother. 🙂 I play Hold Em, where the odds are slightly better (in my opinion), but it is so expensive to buy in, that I am relegated to playing online for play chips – which completely changes the game. Maybe for my next birthday, I will buy myself a seat at a Hold Em table in the casino.

  25. I love playing blackjack and I do like craps every once in a while. I’m with you on the problem with other blackjack players — it’s annoying as hell to listen to one person at the table berate another about making an incorrect decision. My second biggest peeve is people who are rude to the dealer. The dealer isn’t “against” you. In fact, the dealer would *prefer* that you win, because you’re most likely going to tip better. The casino management isn’t going to penalize the dealer for your winning — there are nine more people coming behind you who are going to lose far more than you just won.

  26. Tbh, I’ve never been to a casino before because I’m underage but I’ll keep your tips in mind for future reference. Haha. Your blog is hilarious. Honest & funny stuff. Btw, thanks for following my blog. I appreciate it. 😀

  27. I have been to Vegas many times (most of them while I was stationed in San Diego–late Eighties.
    Wish this was required reading for anyone before they set foot in any casino. Blackjack is my game, but I am also a bit of a dice degenerate. Love craps. Love the fast-paced action.
    Great post.

  28. Great tips! Last weekend I had a lot of fun learning craps for the first time. It still kills me that people do not tip either. I won about $90 and tipped the table $10. I wanted to call people out on it when they leave the table without tipping. What do you think?

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