Are you curious to know how to play casino games without feeling like a loser? Well, fortunately for you, I’ve walked down that path already. Many times. This is my way of exonerating myself by offering players around the world some useful, first-hand advice.
Now, I may not possess arcane gambling wisdom, but if there’s something my failures have taught me, it’s that greed will get you nowhere. So we’ll be keepin it real and down to earth—nothing but sincere insight and useful tips on how to play staple casino games like a boss.
Things You Need To Know Before You Start
Imagine you finally entered a brick-and-mortar casino or signed up in an online casino. You got an itch to try your luck and dream big of hitting that jackpot so you can retire early on some remote tropical island.
Hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but that’s not how stuff works around here. On one hand, yes, gambling can be a helluva rush when things shake out in your favor. Still, there are some things you need to jot down before you even consider messing with your budget.
Rule #1 – Finding A Suitable Casino
The first order of business is to find yourself a casino that fits the bill through and through. I never realized the implications behind this decision until I got played for my money. Put another way: scam casinos are on the prowl, especially on the internet. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep your eyes peeled and ears to the ground.
Players should also opt to find a safe online casino that boasts a pleasant gaming environment. Think graphics, music, ambiance, player interface, the whole shebang. It’s psychological, in a way. It helps maintain a calm state of mind, which is more likely to eliminate any rash or irrational decision-making while playing a casino game.
Rule #2 – The House Always Wins
Although I am fairly certain you know this for a fact, I won’t hesitate to repeat myself: the casino you’re gambling in will always have an edge.
That’s the price we pay to ride the wave of chance, my rollers. And even if you do manage to come out as a winner, your success pales in comparison to the thousands of gamblers who played a losing hand against the house.
Remember: casinos don’t require luck to bring home the bacon. It doesn’t really matter if you prefer slot casino games, video poker, baccarat, Texas hold ’em, table games, or any other casino game. They just need players like you and me to keep the wheel spinning.
Rule #3 – Gamble With What You’re Ready To Lose
Contrary to popular belief, gambling is not a lucrative way to make a living. It is (or at least should be) suited strictly for entertainment purposes.
So before you go strutting across the casino floor, try and decide on how much money you can comfortably afford to play with (read: lose forever). Under no circumstances should you take out more money to get back what you’ve lost. You DON’T want to go down that rabbit hole, guv.
Gambling isn’t meant to rescue people who are down on their luck. And speaking of luck…
The Simplest Card Game: How To Play Blackjack
I’ve had people walk up to me and say: “But, Lilly, I really, really want to score big!”
To that, I always respond with: “You and me both.”
However, if you want to play a casino game where odds are stacked more in your favor, then you might wanna consider visiting a blackjack table. That is not to say that this is the easiest casino game available. Oh, no. It just means that players are a bit luckier compared to, let’s say, sitting at a roulette table.
Essentially, the goal of this card game is to score a combined numerical value of 21. Your hand value must be greater than the dealer’s, and if you go over 21—you’re bust.
If both you and the dealer go bust, the dealer wins! Etch that into your brain as if it were a precious childhood memory. Another plot twist: the dealer will be able to see all of your cards, whereas you won’t be able to see theirs.
I’ve heard an argument that you can make a fortune by counting cards in a single card deck, much like Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain Man. While it does sound compellingly delicious to do so, there’s a catch: you have to be both a memory genius and an awesome player in order for this strategy to work in the long run.
Interestingly enough, most state laws do not explicitly forbid people to count cards. But the casino is almost certainly a private property, which makes you the guest. And boy, lemme tell ya, they do not take kindly to card counting…
Hitting Hard And Hitting Soft
There are two kinds of hands in blackjack: soft and hard. Soft hand includes an ace counted as 11. Pair it with a 6, and you got yourself a soft 17. On the other hand, a hard hand of 17 can consist of a 9, a 7, and an ace counted as 1.
The reason why this is so important is that you don’t play soft and hard hands the same way.
Let’s say you were dealt a 10 and a 7. That’s a hard 17 and you should always stand and withhold from drawing more cards. Now, imagine you are holding an ace and a 6, that’s a soft 17, meaning that you should never stand.
Depending on the casino rules and the number of decks involved, a dealer will always stand on a hard 17 or more. In some casinos, when a casino dealer hits a soft 17 or even 16, this bit of information usually gets pointed out on the table.
I could literally dedicate an entire article to this particular casino game with all its do’s and don’ts. But since we need to cover all other staple casino games, here’s a quick tip rundown. Please note that this is not written in stone, though.
When To Double Down During A Single Deck Game?
- Double down your bet on 11 against a dealer’s ace.
- Double down your bet on soft 19 against the dealer’s 6.
- Double down your bet on soft 18 against the dealer’s 2.
When To Double Down During A Double Deck Game?
- Double down on soft 14 against 4.
- Double down on soft 18 against 2.
- Double down on soft 19 against 6.
When To Double Down With 4, 6, or 8 Decks?
- Double down on 11 against an ace.
- Double down on soft 17 against 2.
Other Useful Advice
- Do not play like a dealer. It might seem tempting, but in this card game, you are worlds apart.
- Do not double your bet after you lose a hand. This is the so-called “Martingale System”, and to quote my favorite Star Wars character – “It’s a trap!”
- Do not be timid. Sometimes you must draw even if there is a possibility to bust. It depends on the version of the game and the dealer’s hand.
- If surrender is allowed in a single deck game, drop hard 15 against an ace, and hard 17 against an ace.
- If surrender is allowed in a double deck game, drop hard 15 against the dealer’s ace.
- In a game with 4, 6, or 8 decks where surrendering is allowed, drop hard 15 against an ace, hard 17 against an ace, and a pair of 8’s against the dealer’s ace.
- Avoid playing blackjack with a 6:5 payout ratio! This gives the house a ridiculous advantage against you. Preferably sit at tables that offer a 3:2 payout ratio instead.
Casino Gambling 101: How To Play Roulette
Casino card games are fine and dandy, but this right here is an all-time favorite. No other casino game is as synonymous with casino gambling as roulette—a definite must for more “serious” players. Unfortunately, the house has even more edge with roulette, although a lot depends on the type of roulette you are playing as well.
My biggest advice is to go and do some practice first! There’s a ton of free-to-play roulettes online, so do your homework before you wager in real money.
And for the love of God, do not try to fix, hack, or “predict” the roulette wheel. It’s bizarre to think that idea can be fruitful.
Place Your Chips
The best way to win is to focus on how to get an advantage as a player! That means “eyes on the chances, not the rewards themselves”. Focus on the outside bets, not the inside ones, although they offer bigger rewards. Trust me, going small is the way to, Bro. At least in the early stages.
You should place most of your bets on odds/even, red/black, and high/low, because that way you get the best odds for winning.
Choose The Right Type Of Roulette
My hot take is this: pick the European roulette. American roulette is literally boarding on the U.S.S. Disaster because the wheel has a double zero slot. It can crush your dreams from the get-go.
European roulette doesn’t have a double zero, so there’s one way less to screw up your plans and tactics.
“La Partage” & “En Prison” Rules
These French words for “Sharing” and “Prison” are super important. I suggest always playing by one of these two rules, and here is why.
If a player places an even bet, let’s say on red, and the ball stops on a zero, he or she has two choices:
- Reclaim half of the bet and lose the other half.
- Leave the bet on the table (“in prison”) for the next “all or nothing” spin.
If it’s a zero again, or a black, the player loses the money. But if it’s red, the player will return the money.
“La Partage “ is a similar thing, in the sense that zero will split the bet in two: one half goes back to the player, the other goes to the croupier.
Spun, Not Stirred
I feel obligated to mention the beginner’s favorite, also known as the James Bond strategy. While it does offer players a relatively solid chance at winning, it’s an extremely expensive tactic. It’s best used by either very experienced or very rich players.
It’s simple, really. Place the bets like this and pray to your God that when the wheel stops, the ball sits on 13 and higher, including 0.
- 1 on the zero
- 14 on the 19-36 box
- 5 on the 13-18 box
I don’t recommend it right off the bat, as long as you act responsibly and maturely.
How To Play Casino Games: Slot Machines
It’s no secret that I am the queen of slots in my slotdom of casino games. When I think of casino gambling, it’s not card games I imagine. I see pictures and numbers spinning like crazy. That’s how I behave when there’s no wine and chocolate in my house.
Let’s start with some good things about this piece of classic casino entertainment.
Slot games are as simple as ABC. Rules are practically nonexistent: you spin the wheel, and prizes, bonuses, and free spins come out. Or don’t.
They improve every day and are quite mobile-friendly nowadays. New and interesting casino games emerge all the time and players can easily find their favorite slot. It takes no skill whatsoever, meaning it all boils down to pure luck.
Fellow slot machine players, If you are new to this domain of mine, let me show you what you should look out for when deciding on a slot game:
- An awesome theme. This is what keeps your brain occupied and willing to ooze hormones of happiness. Go for the ones you find engaging.
- Bonuses. A good slot machine will have a nice variety of bonuses and rewards. Think: multipliers, re-spins, free spins, scatters, and wilds.
- Minimum and maximum bet. Games that offer max bet are keepers. In terms of rewarding, you just have to pick max bet slots because you can rarely hit the jackpot without this feature.
- Return to player percentage (RTP). This is HUGE! The average RTP for casino slots is 96%, so obviously aim for the higher ones. But, some casino slots with lower RTP could be diamonds in the rough, if they increase your RTP as you play. Make sure to google around which slots offer the highest RTP, should you have trouble finding that information from the casino itself.
- Jackpots. Creme de la creme, so tempting yet so unattaining. My advice is to play both enormous, life-changing jackpots and those that offer smaller amounts of money. Why? Statistically, it’s more likely to be struck by lightning than winning a jackpot with seven or eight digits.
- Special features. The more, the merrier. Find the ones that best suit your gambling style and personal preferences.
There are tens of thousands of slot casino games in the world and every decent casino offers from a couple of hundred to a couple of thousand slots. And one more thing, do not fall into the pit of superstition. Stay cool, have a good time, and remember: they are totally random. Prayer, voodoo, and magic rituals likely won’t yield any results.
How To Play A Poker Game
Poker is usually a five card game between friends and enemies alike. But before you start, it is customary to set the house ground rules – most importantly minimum bet, maximum bet, and a pot limit. This applies to normal poker as well as Texas Hold’ em.
The Rules Of The Game
A game of poker can be played with one or two decks of cards, each counting 52 cards. Usually, the rules dictate there are no jokers in the deck, although there are cases where two are included in the deck.
Obviously, poker games are played with two players MINIMUM.
Now, this is important: poker is a game that hugely depends on bluffing, so playing poker without some sort of gambling chip or assets is straight-up ridiculous. You don’t even have to use real money, any gambling chips or even Monopoly money will do the trick.
There are two types of poker: Stud poker and Draw poker.
In Stud poker, players are dealt 5 cards (or seven in certain game variants). After assessing the strength of their hands, players place their bets accordingly. If betting requirements are met, the strongest hand wins the pot.
In Draw poker, each player is dealt 5 cards and a round of betting ensues. The players may attempt to improve their hand by trading as many as 3 of their own cards for the 3 cards from the deck.
There are no community cards – the face-up cards all players can use – in standard poker. All cards are technically hole cards, with “hole card” being every face-down card in the game.
Each hand has a rank, which is compared against the ranks of other hands participating in the showdown. A player with the strongest hand wins the pot. Here’s the list of all potential poker hands, starting the strongest to the weakest:
- Five Of A Kind: In order to get five of a kind you need to play poker with both jokers in the deck, which is very rare. A combination of any 4 cards of the same value, plus the joker, will get you a five of a kind. For example: A♥ A♦ A♣ A♠ Jkr
- Royal Flush: In most cases, this will be the toughest combo to beat. Legendary Royal Flush is what you get when you collect cards from 10 to an Ace, all of them of the same suit. For example: Q♥ J♥ 10♥ 9♥ 8♥
- Straight Flush: Royal Flush’s little brother is made out of 5 consecutive cards, all of a single suit. For example: 6♠ 5♠ 4♠ 3♠ 2♠
- Four Of A Kind: A.k.a quads, this is a very strong hand that consists of four cards of the same value. For example: 7♥ 7♦ 7♠ 7♣
- Full House: A full house is what you get when you hold three cards of the same value, plus two cards of the same value as well. For example: K♣ K♠ K♦ 8♠ 8♦
- Flush: This is simple, to get a flush you need all of your five cards to be of the same suit, and not necessarily in consecutive order. For example: K♦ J♦ 9♦ 6♦ 4♦
- Straight: Just like a flush, but reversed. Players need five consecutive cards, regardless of their suit. For example: 4♠ 5♥ 6♠ 7♥ 8♣.
- Three Of A Kind: Peace of cake, you need three cards of the same value. The Aces are the strongest, 2’s are the weakest.
- Two Pairs: A set of pairs, each of them consisting of two cards of the same value. For example: J♥ J♣ 5♣ 5♠. You guessed it, if two of them exist, the player with the highest pair will win. If both players have the same pair value, for instance, two kings, the player with the stronger remaining pair will take the money.
- One Pair: The weakest combo in a poker game. It’s made of two cards of the same value.
- High Card: This is what happens when two players usually try to out-bluff one another with no combos to show. In this case, the winner will be the player with the highest card in his or her hand.
The betting round goes like this: after all the cards are dealt, each player has four options starting to the left of the dealer.
- Option 1: Raise
In case you are not bluffing and have a strong hand, go for the raise. That way, you are forcing other players to increase their wager if they wish to continue with their hand. But be very careful! If you raise your bet, other players may call on your wager AND raise you in return, forcing you to do the same.
- Option 2: Call
After a player raises the bet, other players may decide to call that bet by placing the requested amount of money on the table. Or, they can simply…
- Option 3: Fold
A move that separates boys from men. If you suspect that your hand will bring you nothing but misery, just fold. Granted, you will not win any money, you will also lose the money you already wagered, but you will not lose any more cash in that hand.
- Option 4: Check
Sometimes all of the players have crappy hands or missing one card to form a strong combo, or some of them are simply bluffing. So if no one has increased the wager required to continue, a.k.a. “raised the stake”, a player may stand pat by checking. To “check” on your turn means that you refuse to raise the bet, have no bets to call on, but you don’t want to fold your hand in hope some better cards turn up.
Rounds of betting are repeated every time new cards are dealt to players. The betting round is activated by the player to the left, and final betting occurs when the dealer plays the last handout or unveils the last community card in Texas Hold em.
Betting rounds are by far the best and the most exciting part of poker. Unfortunately, many players seem to forget that this is also the most dangerous part of the game. Be aware of the rules, place your bets carefully and be prepared for betting rounds riddled with bluffs and occasional strong poker hands.
If you feel especially ballsy, you can place a blind bet or raise without even looking into your hand, but that’s an exception, one that depends on the house rules.
Counting And Reading
The player who can precisely count the cards in the game and who can read other players’ unconscious signs will win 99% of the time. Period.
This is a game of skill AND luck. In that particular order. So do not give away your signs! If you have a winning hand, stay cool. Don’t raise the bets like a maniac, chances are your opponents will see through you.
Try to maintain a “poker face” at all times! Act like a player on sedatives – calm and steady, no matter the face cards in front of you, the hole cards on the table, or player bets on the pile.
Be like that guy in Lady Gaga’s song, combined with a popular TV show.
Be a talking dead!
The last man or woman standing on the casino floor will be the person with the most secretive betting pattern, facial expression, behavior, gesticulation, and manner of speech. If you give away your signs, you’re probably busted. There’s no amount of money in the world that can help you, and no Lady Luck forgiving enough to match your carelessness.
As for the counting, by all means, try to do it in a friendly game. Keep track of all cards that circulate the hand and try to figure out what’s left in the game for the other players to use.
There is no specific law that forbids counting cards. However, if you are in a privately owned casino, or at a privately hosted poker game, they will not look kindly upon your attempt to count them. In fact, serious injuries may occur when it comes to your wallet, emotional state, and not to mention – body. The best-case scenario: you will be thrown out and banned for life.
This is why casinos and gambling hosts pour you drinks like it’s the end of the world – they want you incapable of hiding your signs and forgetful enough to prevent the possible card counting.
Needless to say, do not drink and use drugs if you plan to play for real money.
How To Play Texas Hold’Em
This awesome variant of poker is probably the most popular. Texas Hold’em is a poker-based game with some rules being bent, and others introduced. In short, it is a seven-card poker, but only five cards are used to make a combo, like in a regular game.
Community Cards And A Round Of Betting
Each player, starting with the player to the left of the button or a dealer, will be dealt two face-down cards a.k.a. hole cards or pocket cards. The first two cards are checked in utmost secrecy as the betting round begins.
Then, the dealer deals three community cards face up. In Hold’em, each and every poker player can use those cards in conjunction with the cards in his or her hands, trying to make the strongest possible combination.
These three community cards are called The Flop. After they are revealed, another round of betting commences and players may bet like in every poker game: raise the bet, call the bet (or re-raise, if they want to), check the pot if no bets were made, or fold the hand and wait for a better one.
Don’t be afraid to fold trashy hands. Hands come and go, just wait for the right one.
A player can dismiss his own cards and play with all of the board cards, or community cards, but this is a very rare spectacle to behold. It’s referred to as “playing the board.”
Usually, there are two blinds in Texas Hold’em game, but playing with just one blind isn’t that uncommon either. A big blind in Hold’ em is a mandatory bet paid by the player two seats to the left of the dealer, or the dealer button. The player one seat to the left of the button pays a small blind – usually half the big blind’s size.
The purpose of the blind is to induce player participation and betting by forcing players to have a monetary stake in the game. As the game progresses, the blind will periodically increase in order to compensate for the larger amount of Texas Hold’ em chips.
The big blind is usually the same amount as the minimum bet. Just be careful with the blind increase. If you do it too often, it will drastically decrease the starting stack of your Hold’ em chips.
After The Flop
After the dealer burns a card and deals three community cards called the flop, another Texas Hold’em betting round starts. The player to the left checks his or her hand and decides whether to bet or check. Once a bet has been made and the pot enrichened, each Texas player can raise, call or fold his or her hand.
Now, there are three face-up cards next to the pot, and two in the player’s hand, each of them being a secret, hole card. One player could be hitting a straight flush already, while another player is all empty. It greatly depends on what every face-up card, or community card, brings to the cards you are holding in your hand.
Next up, the Texas Hold’ em dealer burns another card and adds another card on the table. In the Texas Hold’em rules the fourth card is called the Turn Card, or fourth street.
The Turn is naturally followed by another third round of betting. Each player must repeat the betting procedure and, unless stated otherwise, the size of bets has usually doubled its proposed limits.
This is the card that will make or break your Texas Hold’em games. This is the card movies were made about, games are remembered, and the World Series of poker clings onto.
The dealer burns another card and deals the fifth and the last card on the table. This last card is called The River, or appropriately – the fifth street.
Every player is trying to make the best combo out of five cards, using the two in his or her hand, and five cards next to the pot. This is the moment where this, at a first glance innocuous game, starts to grow vicious fangs that can and will bite you if you are reckless and short-tempered.
Every person at the table is trying to guess what the opponents’ hole cards are. It can be nerve-wracking!
The final round of betting begins, just as same as before. And then, the moment we have been all waiting for – The Showdown.
Using the best five-card combination, which consists of each player’s hand and community cards, players will reveal their hands. The last raiser, or bettor, will show cards first.
And that’s it, folks! The strongest hand wins, and the game continues in circles.
How To Play Craps
Now, you probably know this already, but Craps is insanely cool and contagious to play. Not only that, they require little to no effort with a kiss from Lady Luck.
All you need are two ordinary, six-sided dice.
When you approach the table game, look at the croupier’s marker. If it’s black with the word “off” on it, you can start the game. If it’s white, displaying the word “on”, the game is in progress so you’ll have to wait a little while.
I am assuming we are in the casino, so don’t spoil the fantasy. Place the cash on the table, take the chips, place them in front of you, and let them roll!
Betting And Rolling
When you place the chips on The Pass Line, you are betting on the person who is throwing the dice. If a person wins – HOORAY, we all win. If a person loses, well, you know the drill.
Let’s say the person wins. He or she continues to throw them again and again.
If a first throw is a total sum of 7 or 11, and you bet the Pass Line, we all win big time. But if a roll is 2, 3, or 12 combined, and you bet the Pass Line – the money’s gone, baby.
If the player in his or her first roll gets a sum of 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10, those are called the Point Numbers. The dealer will take the marker, turn it upside down, and place it on the given number.
For this article, let’s say the player rolled 6. The marker is then placed on 6 and a player keeps rolling the dice until he or she gets a 6. If a player rolls a 6 before a 7 – we all win!
Another craps wager is called Taking Odds. Casinos vary but usually, it’s 2 times, 3 times, or 5 times the money wagered.
The next bet is The Come bet, placed right in the middle of the table. It’s the same deal as with the Pass Line, but this time you’re betting AFTER the first roll. If the next one is 7 or 11 – you win!
Don’t Pass Bar is the opposite of the Pass Line. If a player rolls a 2 or a 3 – you win, and if a player throws a 12 – it’s a tie and you get to keep your money. On the other hand, if it’s let’s say a 10, then you are betting that another 10 will come before a 7.
The most popular way to play craps is called Place Bets. You place chips on 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, and hope your luck will follow the dance of the dice.
Another fun wager is The Field. You place chips on 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12. If you guess correctly, you win even money, except on 2 and 12 which pay double the sum. Lastly, there are the Proposition bets, and boy do they pay big. They are one-roll-bets and you have to guess pretty hard how the dice will roll. Double numbers, sevens, elevens, or craps. It’s pretty damn hard, but multipliers range from 5 (roll of 7) to a whopping 30 (snake exes, double sixes).
Shout-Out To Baccarat
“Never tell me the odds.” – Han Solo
If you still prefer casino games with higher chances of winning, my honorary mention goes to baccarat. All casinos host it, it’s one of the most popular games in the world. I mention baccarat because of the misconception that it’s meant rich and fancy folks only. The reality is quite the opposite.
Nowadays, you can play baccarat for as low as $1 wager. As long as you bet on the banker, you will be facing a 1,06% house advantage only. That is generous for a card game.
Some other options include the player bet and tie wager and they feature 1,24% and 14,36 house edges respectively.
If you’re feeling particularly lucky, go and hit the player wager. But under no circumstances should you opt for the tie wager. Better transfer that money directly to me then—I’ll spend it more carefully.