Gambling Survival Guide for Las Vegas
Gamble, gamble, gamble! It would seem silly for us to write a ton of guides for Vegas locals and NOT touch on the world of gambling. This town revolves around and only exists because of the casinos and gambling. Otherwise, we would just be some random po’ dunk desert town with nothing fun to do.
What we’ve found from our interaction with Las Vegas locals is that there are a lot of people that live here that aren’t big gamblers who don’t really know much about the casinos, gambling, and how it all works. They know it’s the way casinos make money and that’s about it. This may be because you’re new to town.
If you’re a first-time gambler, someone just curious about how it all works, or brand new to town and looking to get into the action, this guide is written for you! We’re going to walk you through some tips and tricks to make your gambling and casino experience that much better.
This is also an AWESOME guide to send to friends and family that are visiting our city. Yes, it's written mainly for you Las Vegas locals but the tips and strategies are perfect for those that are new to the city and those just visiting. It should help keep tourist and locals alike safe and in the know in regards to the gambling experience in Vegas.
Without further ado, let’s dive into the action.
Joining Player’s Clubs
Each casino in town bends over backward to try and get their hands on your personal information. It’s not in a creepy stalker sort of fashion, but in a dying to market to you fashion. They will do everything they can to get you to give up your email address and name. How do they do this? Player’s Clubs.
What is a Player’s Club?
A player’s club is a free to join “club” that the casino has available for you. Ever joined the mailing list at your favorite store to get some discounts? It’s pretty much the exact same thing but with a fancier name. When you join the club, you’ll give the casino basic information about you that they will program into their system. They’ll usually give you a card with your name on it to use for a whole host of things.
Why Should I Join?
Most people are smart enough to realize that access to even their most basic information is worth money. You don’t just give your name and email to some random billion-dollar company to be nice. There has to be a reason for you to give it up. That reason here is perks.
The casino will usually have a lot of different perks that you can get just for signing up. For example, if you join the player’s club at the Stations Casinos, you get discounted pricing on the buffet. At other places, you might get a free gift or free slot play. You may get a coupon book filled with fun stuff for you to use.
The card is also used to track any gambling you do. When you sit down at a table or slot machine, you put your card in or hand it to the dealer, and they will log you into the system. This allows the casino to track your play. They do this for several reasons.
First, for their own benefit, it allows them to know who the big-time players are and make sure they are taking care of them. Second, for your benefit, it allows you to collect perks and bonuses for your play. When you hit certain playing thresholds as tracked by your card, it will alert the casino, and they will issue you rewards and bonuses.
In the old days, the pit boss would watch your play and issue the rewards. Now, everything is tracked digitally and through the player’s club system. If you’re going to be gambling, you 100% want to join the club. It’s free, and the only “spam” they send you is coupons and free stuff which really doesn’t fall into the spam category in our book.
Remember, you can join these clubs at every casino you go to so don’t hesitate to do so. If the casino is owned by the same company, you won’t be able to, but every big casino group has their own player’s club that you should definitely look into joining especially if you are going to be doing any amount of gambling.
Choosing a Casino
Before you can join a player’s club and start having fun gambling, you have to pick a casino to play at. If you’ve lived here for more than a day, you know that not all casinos are created equally. Not only do they all have a different theme and feel, but they have significant differences when it comes to the gambling experience.
Each table or game in the casino will have minimum and maximum amounts that you can or have to bet in order to play. While the maximums are enforced, we’re going to go ahead and assume that unless you’re a big baller that you are more concerned with the table minimums. A table minimum is the lowest amount that you are allowed to wager and still be able to play.
For example, if you are at a $5 minimum blackjack table, you have to bet $5 per hand or else you won’t be allowed to play. You are free to bet a lot more than that, but the minimum for each hand is $5. This is important to know because you don’t want to try and sit at a table that requires you to place bets way higher than you are comfortable with.
Here’s the scoop when it comes to limits. The bigger the casino is (not in terms of size but in prestige/nice factor. Think Venetian versus Casino Royale), the higher the limits are going to be. The nicer casinos are going to typically have higher table limits than some of the smaller/grungier places in town.
Also, the day of the week and time you choose to play will play a big role. The off-peak times like mid-day or weekdays will have lower limits than you might see on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll notice in each casino at each game that there are plaques posted that have the limits. These plaques are either digital or able to slide off and be changed.
This is so the casino can change the limits based on the demand. The busier the casino is, the higher they are going to have the limits to make sure their bigger players are able to play. It’s greed, but we understand it from a business standpoint.
The takeaway here is that you need to find a casino that fits your bankroll budget. If you want to play really low limits, your best bet is to head downtown or check out some of the smaller properties on the strip. Some casinos will even advertise that they have lower limits on their billboards or websites. If experience is more important than limits, then, by all means, check out the big boy and girl casinos on the strip.
Each casino is going to offer your most popular games like blackjack, roulette, and craps. The more obscure games, though, may only be offered at the bigger casino with a more diverse selection. You’ll need to check online, call, or just walk into the casinos to find the ones that offer the games you want to play.
This becomes especially important for slot players. The game selections are going to vary based on what casino you go to greatly. If you have a favorite game that you love to play, you’re going to be severely disappointed if you end up at a casino that doesn’t have your game. A little pre-planning and research can go a long way to enhancing your experience here.
Most casinos will allow you to call and ask if they have the game you are looking for. The good news too is that if you walk into a casino and they don’t have your game, you can always walk right next store to another casino and see if they have it there (huge perk of living in Vegas). Honestly, though, the quick phone calls are the best method if you have your heart set on a specific game.
We touched on this a bit earlier, but we wanted to cover it in full. Yes, it’s a no-brainer for some of you that have lived here for ages, but our new residents might not understand this. Each casino on and off the strip has its own theme. We aren’t talking like slightly different like “This casino is blue and this one is red!” but completely different feels.
They’re so different that we always tell our friends that come into town to allot the first day to walking through all of the casinos and enjoying the different themes and architecture. You’ve got places like the Venetian with its Italian “Venice” feel or the Luxor which is literally an Egyptian pyramid. Ok, it’s an American pyramid if we’re getting picky, but you know what we mean 🙂
These looks and feels aren’t just on the outside of the casinos but carry through their gaming floors which means they will have a big impact on your gambling experience. Luckily, making your selection here is simple. Find the casino that makes you feel the best, and you have the most fun in. If you want to gamble and feel like you’re in Italy, awesome. If you want to gamble like you have King Tut looking over your shoulder, also awesome. It all comes down to personal preference.
Watch the Sauce
Heyyy errrybody…whosssseE readeryyYY to GAMmborl!!! You may know what we’re talking about now when we say the sauce. Getting drunk and having drinks can be fun but it can be a dangerous game when it comes to drinking and gambling.
Why? Alcohol has a tendency to make people do things that they normally wouldn’t. At the casino, this can mean betting higher amounts than you want, playing for longer periods than you want to, or even playing games wildly and much more erratically than you’d ever want to.
The casinos feed you free drinks on purpose to help you have a good time and relax but also to take more chances than you might not normally take. Why? Because it makes them more money.
We’re not going to tell you how to live your lives or how to behave, but we just want you to be aware that you may end up with a lot lighter wallet than you want if you drink too much while playing.
Understand the Games
For the love of all things holy, PLEASE promise us that you won’t ever play a casino game that you don’t fully understand. This is the number one silliest and easiest corrected mistakes that new gamblers make. The casino is always going to have the edge but there is no reason that you should give them a bigger edge based on ignorance or laziness.
Learning the games it not hard and really does not take long as long as you learn from a good source. They make the games easy to understand on purpose so they can get more people playing quicker. The best advice we can give you is to learn the games and the nuances BEFORE you go to the casino. Sometimes they will have people there willing to teach you but you never know if you’re getting good instruction and they’re bound to leave important things out.
Take advantage of the fact that every game is explained out in detail online. If you need some direction on where to look, here are some links to some of the most popular casino games for you to learn. It doesn’t take long to learn and can save you a TON of money at the tables.
We've scoured the web for you and found the best free guides available that teach you the basic games as well as some of the more complex ones. We HIGHLY recommend taking a few minutes and jumping over to these guides before your next trip to the casino.
Know Your Limits
You've probably seen this on at least one gambling poster or in the lobby of a casino somewhere before. A cry to make sure that you don't let your gambling get out of hand and start wagering more than you should. While you may roll your eyes at that information, you may be surprised to learn how easy it is to get caught up in the action and start betting with money you shouldn't be.
Here's the scoop. Gambling is meant to be a form of entertainment. Unless you are playing a skill game like poker or sports betting, the house is always going to have an edge. They're always going to win in the long run so it's not a sustainable way to make a living. For those of you playing poker or sports betting, you still have to be careful not to let things get out of hand.
Just because a game is beatable does not necessarily mean that you are capable of beating it. We've seen plenty of people come and go in this town who thought they could hack it as a pro poker player or sports bettor only to find that things were much tougher than they thought. Don't think you are excluded from this tip just because you are playing a skill game.
For those of you playing recreational games where the house has the edge like blackjack, roulette, craps, slots, etc., you have to remember that the game is meant to be fun. No matter how well you play, you can't beat the house unless you are cheating or doing something that will get you thrown out of the casino.
Don't bet money that you cannot afford to lose. Set a gambling budget and stick to it. If you're worried about your ability to do that, you probably shouldn't be gambling or need to put some extra safeguards in place. This could be only bringing enough to play with you to the casino or leaving your debit card at home. In reality, though, if you struggle with stopping you probably shouldn't be playing in the first place. We don't say this to be buzz kills but just because we want to protect you and make sure you survive this city.