Tips from an amateur gambler

I just got back from my first (short) gambling trip, and while I may have a lot to learn, I picked up pretty quickly on a few things so I’d like to share what I’ve learned.

Comp cards – Get one. Almost every major casino (if not all of them) will have  one and they’re free to sign up for. All play will slowly earn you comps like free buffets, discounts at casino restaurants, and eventually stuff like free nights at casino hotels. There’s no reason not to get one of these. Some casinos, like the Island View, will let you play your earned points in a kiosk game that will increase them. You can also use a lot of your points on slot machines.

Slot machines – Don’t bother with them. You’ll almost always throw away more money than you’ll get and at best you generally break even. If you have free slot play, use it, but make sure you count exactly how much you can play before hand and stop once you’ve hit it. Just take your winnings and walk away with your free money. I got $40 slot play for opening a card at the Island View and a chance to win more from a kiosk, which gave me $10 more. I took all $50 slot credit, hit a machine, and played it all out. I won $146 in the process and stepped away as soon as I was out of credit. Now, you may notice that I won almost three times what I started with, but the night before, I did nothing but lose at the Grand’s slots. I didn’t hit a single big payout. Slots are so damned streaky and they’re one of the most rigged things in the casino. Don’t expect to win. I watched my dad and brother throw away at least a couple hundred each on slots.

If you’re going to play, I recommend quarter slots with multiple paylines. Try the ones with five paylines (two diagonal and three horizontal) or use a nine payline machine and set it to five at one credit each. This way, you’ll be paying $1.25 per pull, but you have very high chances to win. It will keep you even for a good long while, but the longer you play, the more you start losing. If you hit a big payout, it’s generally a good idea to stop and move to another machine. Machines generally don’t pay out much back to back. Also, if a machine hasn’t payed out in a while, it may pay out soon, so you can try to watch other people to see if they’re getting anything. I hate to say it, but $105 of that $146 I won was literally two pulls after my brother on the machine he spent $40 credit on and got nothing.

Table games – These are generally pretty safe, as far as card games go. I recommend finding a game with some bonuses and playing it. Good ones are the Texas Hold’em Bonus (not everyone will have this) or Pai Gow Poker (which pretty much everyone has). These games offer another bet you can place for a bonus, which will pay out if you get a certain hand. The Texas Hold’em Bonus will also pay out for certain pocket hands like Ace-Ace or Ace-King suited/off-suited, etc. Hitting one of these will pay out your bonus with a good chunk of money. I recommend playing smaller bonuses and setting bigger bonuses aside. Say you start with $100 at the table and win $50+ on a bonus, set that aside and don’t play it. If you hit at least what you started with in bonuses, you’re breaking even even if you lose everything you were playing with. Also, it may be a good time to walk away when you’re up significantly, even if you’re playing with others. I was playing Flop Poker with my dad and brother and kept playing simply because they were, but I should have colored up early. I was up $200, but because I kept playing with them, I wound up breaking even from the bonuses I set aside. I lost everything I was playing with. Also remember to tip the dealers if you get a good hand/payout. As far as other table games, it’s your call. Roulette is very risky, so I wouldn’t recommend that one.

Oh, and Mississippi Stud is bullshit. You WILL lose your ass at that game. I lost $100 in about 15 minutes. It took my dad and brother significantly longer to lose it, but they still lost all $100 they put in. Playing it at all is one of the biggest gambles in the casino.

Winning is streaky – Doesn’t matter what you’re playing, you’ll go through streaks of winning and losing. If you’re up, know what a good time is to walk away and keep what you have. You don’t want to end up breaking even or, even worse, losing. If a table’s not working for you, it’s generally not a good idea to keep throwing money at it. Just go somewhere else for a while.

Anyway, I know a lot of this is somewhat common knowledge, but I hope that it helps someone who doesn’t know it and was planning on hitting up some gambling places. In order to really make money gambling, you have to put money up and take risks, but remember to be conservative enough in your gambling that you’re not throwing away money on stuff you have no chance of pulling it back from.

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