If your only casino experiences have been disappointing, you’re not alone. These facilities are built up as can’t-miss entertainment venues, where you can live out your poker fantasies, win money at blackjack tables, and maybe even get lucky at a machine or two. But often enough, first- or second-time visitors find the real thing to be a little more awkward. Poker and blackjack tables can be intimidating, slots feel like a waste of time and money, and the overall vibe can quickly become less cheerful than advertised.
So, how do you enjoy yourself at a casino?
It may be that casinos just aren’t for you. In that case, fair enough! There’s pretty much never a need to go to a casino, unless there’s a related bachelor party you just can’t miss. But if you’re keen on having a good casino experience, we have a few tips that might help.
How to Enjoy Yourself at a Casino
1. Start at a Restaurant
One thing that’s pretty consistent in the casino game is that there tend to be good drinking and dining options. Vegas casinos really set the tone in this regard. While the best restaurants at these casinos may be a little more upscale than those at other facilities, they’ve still helped to establish the expectation that when you visit a casino you’ll be able to take a seat at a solid steakhouse or something similar. Our recommendation is to take advantage of these options early in your night. It’s a small thing, but eating first gives you a chance to get the lay of the land. You can walk through the casino floor, take a seat and enjoy a leisurely meal, all while soaking up the general vibe of the venue. It puts you in a contended, comfortable mood to explore the casino in — almost dulling some of the straight-to-gaming hype you might experience otherwise, in a good way.
2. Warm Up at Your Own Game
Here’s the thing: If you haven’t frequented casinos in the past, you probably won’t like slot machines. This is basically the foundation of a demographic problem facing casinos. Young and new visitors don’t like slots, and rarely take the time for them. Our recommendation, if you feel this way, is to simply skip them in favor of other games you might actually like. There’s a sort of unspoken practice some follow of “warming up” at slots before moving on to more involved table games. But if you aren’t interested, don’t force it! Slots are pretty boring! Instead, take a look at video poker machines, craps tables, or other assorted games you might be able to get into a little bit more.
3. Play Poker with Friends
It’s true that poker tables in real casinos can be a little intimidating. The dealers want to move the games along, other players tend to know what they’re doing, and there’s inevitably one slightly disheveled guy taking his gambling very seriously who’s annoyed at the slightest disruption. But there’s an easy solution to all of this, which is to play with friends. Wait for a table to open up with enough seats for you and a few people in your group to sit down together. It changes the dynamic of the table and takes away the pressure so that you can actually enjoy real-life poker (which is quite a lot of fun once you get going).
4. Study Poker (at least a little)
We’re not trying to assign homework here. That kind of takes the fun out of a night out. But there’s still some basic preparation you can do for casino poker that will serve you well without taking up much time. First and foremost, make sure you know how a game of Texas Hold’em progresses (in terms of dealing, decisions, and betting). Then, make sure you’re absolutely clear on poker hand rankings, so that you don’t get mixed up thinking your Three Of A Kind might top the Straight you suspect an opponent is aiming for. These little bits of knowledge will take you about 10 minutes to nail down, but will make your poker experience in a casino much smoother and more enjoyable.
5. Don’t Play Rain Man
You really ought to check out the blackjack tables as well. This is actually where a lot of people have the most fun in casinos these days. As you go about it though, keep one thing in mind: Don’t try to play Rain Man (or The Hangover, for the young ones). By this we mean don’t try to count cards. Yes, it’s something you can actually learn to do at a blackjack table. Yes, it can increase your odds of winning. And no, it’s not technically illegal. But it is difficult, it’s hard to disguise, and it may lead a casino to kick you out even if there are no real consequences. It’s really just not worth trying, and frankly it’s more fun to play the game straight up anyway.
Once again, if casinos just aren’t for you, there’s no issue with skipping them altogether. But if you want to know how to enjoy yourself at a casino, these tips will definitely help.