Section: Advice > Gaming Tips

Surviving the Casino Experience
by Maryann Guberman

Like the tired old jokes about blondes, the standard lines among recreational gamblers never seem to change. "I just come to the casino a couple of times a year to visit my money." "See these chandeliers? I paid for them."

These kind of truisms stem from the reality that in virtually every game, the "house," that fabulously ornate, garish, jingle-jangling adult playground known as the casino, has the edge. Despite that edge, some people do win, and these winners fall into four categories: the person who makes one wager only, wins, and leaves, never to return again; the individual who scores a jackpot of such a sizeable dollar amount that it would take a lifetime to gamble the money back; the professional gambler who fearlessly endures the emotionally-draining ups and downs of the few games that give him an edge; and the truly lucky punter who happens to be accompanied by Lady Luck on most of his or her casino adventures.

The main interest for casino players is (or should be) to have some fun, soak up an unusual environment, and take a shot at a score. Most are not professional gamblers; they're not even interested in joining the ranks. Similarly, hardly any casino patron will walk in the front door, place a bet, win, and walk out. Unfortunately, Lady Luck doesn't spread herself too thin, and finally, there aren't enough giant jackpots in the world to put everyone into the category of life-time winner.

But none of the above examples preclude players from following some simple advice that not only will make the casino experience more enjoyable but also will help put them in a position to be in the right place at the right time, ready to win when the cards are right. Here then are ten simple tips to point you in the right direction.

1. Plan ahead. You wouldn't go to Disneyland without taking enough money to get beyond the entrance, would you? OK, it's mundane to think about "budgeting" and gambling in the same breath. But it's a necessary part of the deal, so grit your teeth and do it before you go one step further. Divide the amount of money you're willing to risk by the number of days you will be risking it. Make sure you set aside enough for meals and transportation, especially the trip back home. If you lose your daily allotment, call it quits. The tables will be there the next day.
2. Use only recreational money. If you haven't saved vacation money, don't take the vacation.
3. Don't play above your bankroll. Pretend you are going to have a really rotten streak, losing 50 bets in a row. (It doesn't matter what game.) Then make sure the limits you are playing will allow you to make those 51 wagers.
4. Study in advance. Learn the basic house rules for the games you're interested in before you play. That way, you can avoid losing money by making uninformed errors. If possible, get a book that explains some of the intricate parts of getting the best of each game.
5. Stay alert. Get plenty of rest before you start (because you'll probably get very little once your trip starts) and stay away from alcohol while you play. A rested, sober individual is less likely to fritter away money than a tired, slightly tipsy one.
6. Don't chase. If you're losing, don't try to make up your losses by betting more money. Stay on a steady path until you get ahead, then take stock. If you have increased your bankroll substantially, by all means, raise the stakes.
7. Put some winnings aside. In conjunction with raising the stakes when you're ahead, take a little profit first.
8. Stay away from your credit card and don't go near the ATM. Just as you can't tell when you're going to catch lightening in a bottle, you can't tell when a losing streak is going to end. Getting cash advances and taking money out of your bank account is the same as increasing the stakes when you're losing. Plus, it puts you in the position of using money you didn't plan to use at exhorbitant lending rates.
9. Take advantage of any and all comps. If you can earn free rooms, meals, shows, even something as small and inconsequential as a souvenir keychain, do it. In fact, inquire before you plan about extra "perks" that the casino offers to patrons so you can use them.
10. Enter the arena with a positive attitude. Be happy when youdo win. You'll have some pleasant memories to go along with the extra cash, perhaps enough (or more) to pay for the entire experience.

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