How to gamble in Vegas casinos

Tips and Tricks on how to gamble at Vegas casinos; ways to increase your winning chances and ways to make sure you don’t lose too much! For part 2, go to the bottom of the page for the link (but you are invited to read part 1 as well as useful introduction).

If you are about to enter a Vegas casino and have never gambled before, or have gambled little, this page can help you to make sure you don’t waste too much money and indeed you can maximize your chances of winning.

If it’s your first time in a Vegas casino, you will have one of the 2 possible experiences:

1 – getting a ‘sense of history’, of the good old glorious Las Vegas days; this if you go to a ‘historical casino’, such as the Main Street Station Casino, for example, or some other off-Strip casinos. Some of them can be seedy but others truly make you step back in time. Main Street Station hotel and casino has such wonderful, historical furniture and furnishings in some areas that you can’t help but imagine that you’ve entered a time machine, all in a very positive way.

2 – being ‘bombarded’ by the smells, sounds and modern effects of the most modern casinos, with the most modern games designed to entice you the moment you step into the casino. If you stay long enough, even if you are strong-willed, you’ll probably end up sitting and playing one of those fancy, fun games. If you are not careful, before you know it you’ve spent one hundred dollars!

There are, admittedly, some casinos which are ‘in-between’, let’s call them average in terms of games and atmosphere; no history as such as no modernizations, even on the Strip, so I invited you to visit a few until you find the one that really works for you. I have written a page on the Best Vegas Casinos, if you wish to read it.

Besides the lights and the sounds, you will be ‘bombarded’ by the ‘scent’, the various flagrances emitted by each casino, all designed to increase your ‘euphoric’ experiences and associate casinos with euphoria. I think that oxygen is also emitted at the same time, I am not sure, but it of course contributes to making players and visitors feel ‘refreshed’ in the environment, one of the reasons why smoke – though awful – does not irritate as much as it would irritate somewhere else.

You will also quickly notice waitresses offering free drinks to all gamblers; before you rush to sit down and play thinking you’ll be making up by ordering all those free alcoholic drinks, consider this: the glass size is really small and you are expected to leave a tip per drink, of course. Some say (I cannot confirm nor deny this from my own experience) the drinks are diluted with water (or similar) so you won’t enjoy the ‘full’ product, so to speak. However, if you order expensive alcoholic drinks it may just be worth it: but be careful, because the last think you really need is be drunk in front of a slot machine or gambling table, since your money will be gone before you even realize what you are doing (some cynics say that getting you drunk and careless with your money is exactly the purpose of any casino).

Soon enough you’ll also be ‘bombarded’ by the exciting sounds, some very loud, of machines which, you’ll think, are giving out the jackpot prize or going through a particularly ‘generous’ bonus round; some even have the letters ‘BIG WIN’ whilst playing really exciting, loud sounds. Of course, some times it is actually the case; but more often than not some machines are just loud and the payouts are nowhere near what one would be led to believe by all the bells and whistles played by the machine. I remember a couple of modern games which, as I was sitting playing, gave me the impression I was winning nice payouts at each spin whilst, in fact, I was not even getting back the money I’d spent for the very same spin! Having said all of this, these machines are absolutely fun.

Before you sit at a slot machine (or at a table), make sure you know what your budget is and your very limit, beyond which you must walk away no matter what the situation is. If you don’t set yourself a limit, you may find yourself spending hundreds of dollars. I remember one night, as a newbie, I lost 700 dollars! It may not be much for some, but for me it was a small fortune and I still remember how heartbroken I felt, as I was walking along the Strip in the early hours of the morning; if it weren’t for my best friend, I would have been in a real crisis. Needless to say, I learnt a lot from that experience and, each time, I have become more and more ‘savvy’ with regards to gambling at Vegas casinos.

Before I go on, I want to highlight something: I used to think that Vegas casinos were amongst the best in the world with regards to payouts. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, anywhere. We often have ‘better luck’ in Reno or other areas than in Vegas lately; what seems to be the case almost everywhere is that the payouts are smaller (and here we’re referring to slot machines) and less frequent. There are occasional big payouts but they are nowhere near as frequent as they used to be a few years ago: in the recent past I could ‘stretch’ 300 dollars all night long, often enough leave with the same money or more than I started with and, to make matters more pleasant, we’d be comped the next day by casino marketing. However, in the last few months, obtaining this ‘good result’ has become more challenging in Vegas; of course you can still win, but you have to be careful.

Make sure that, if you want to gamble, you do it at a casino which is less greedy and fairer with its payout percentage. There is never a way to know for sure, but often off-Strip casinos are better (I always enjoyed playing at Silverton, for example), though the myth of better payouts in downtown Vegas was not reflected in our latest experience; in fact, we have much better payouts at the beautiful Cosmopolitan, right in the middle of the Strip!

For first-timers:

♣ If you want to play at tables, sit around for a while; make sure you know what you are doing first. Watch people at the table first, learn ‘the table’ and see how the dealer works, especially if you want to play roulette. When you have decided that you want to play, take a sit, give the dealer an X amount of money and get chips for that money (when you are done playing you will just return the chips you have to the cashier and he/she will give you the corresponding amount in cash). Bet small until you get the hang of things no matter what you do. I think you should bet small the first night that you play at the table. They say one has the beginner’s luck on his/her side, but I would opt for caution.

♣ If you decide to play the slot machines, walk around the casino and see what your options are. I would suggest that you start with small denomination penny slots, and bet small, such as 9×1 or, if you can afford it, 20 to 30 cents x 1 (if you play any higher, your money will disappear more quickly than you think); enjoy yourself, pace yourself, see how the game works and keep betting small until you get the hang of things. Stay away from 1 dollar slot machines or higher until you know really well what you are doing, which is probably some other time, not on your first trip. To this day I don’t play dollar slots; my partner occasionally plays 50c or 25c slots and, because of that, he occasionally wins a much bigger amount than I do with my penny slots (1c), but betting ‘lower’ allows you to enjoy gambling for much longer and, very important for me, allows you to receive plenty of VIP invitations or ‘comped’ rooms offers!

Nowadays almost all Vegas casinos (and certainly the ones in the main tourist areas) use the voucher system, which is great: you insert your money into any machine and, if you stop playing (or if you decide to change machine for any reason), you’ll press ‘cash out’ and you’ll be given a voucher for the exact amount of money you have left, which you can use with the next machine or exchange for cash at the cashiers’. It’s really easy: I cannot tell you enough how irritating it is when you have to call for assistance every time you press the ‘cash out’ button at a slot machine! In some casinos outside of Vegas you still have to do this, and it’s absolutely ridiculous. And, only a few years ago, they still have the ‘coin’ system where you would go around with a huge bucket to collect all the coins given when you pressed ‘cash out’: ridiculous, but believe me, it was only a few years ago that many casinos in downtown Vegas still used that pathetic system!

Of course you can only use that voucher within the one casino you are in; you cannot use it in any other casino. Pretty obvious, but it had to be said anyway…

Before you start playing at any casino, make sure you sign up for the Players’ Card at Casino Marketing (or Customer Service), which is usually open until 11pm or even 2am, depending on which casino you are in; doing this will ensure that you can get lots of free stuff in Vegas . Which Vegas Strip resorts give you more ‘free stuff’ for your gambling?  Find out on the updated page titled Best Rewards for Gambling in Vegas’.

Now that you know the basics, if you wish to know more on how to gamble to win in Las Vegas casinos, go to part 2: How to Win in Vegas – Tips.

We have also written a page on ‘loose slots’, which is something every gambler wants to know about, as well as better-paying casinos in terms of gambling odds and which Vegas Strip resorts give you more ‘free stuff’ for your gambling, on the page titled ‘Best Rewards for Gambling in Vegas’.