If this isn’t enough to convince you to try table games, I don’t know what is. You don’t even have to abandon slots if you love them — but when you need a break from the monotony of slots, trying a table game instead of continuing on a slot binge will save you money.
Learning any table game in depth could take a while — 30 minutes to a few hours, depending on the game. But the secret is, learning just the basics is enough to give you way better odds than you’d get on a slot machine. So let’s proceed to the gambling lessons — our handy crash course on casino games.
Print Out this Page
Print out this page and take it with you to the casino. The casino won’t care. It’s much easier to use this page as a cheat sheet rather than trying to memorize everything.
Every table has a minimum bet, indicated by a sign on the table (usually $5 for blackjack). Make sure to read the sign so you don’t buy in at a $25 table when you meant to be at a $5 table. (If you make a mistake and buy in at the wrong table, you don’t have to play there, you can just take your chips to another table, but it can still be embarrassing if everyone sees you picked the wrong table.)
Put your cash on the table, right in front of you, between two betting circles (or in craps, outside the great big box). Don’t hand your money to the dealer; they can’t take it directly from your hand. When you put it on the table, don’t put it inside a marked circle or on any writing, or the dealer may think you want to bet the cash and start dealing! The dealer will finish the hand (s)he’s dealing before looking at your money, so be patient — if your money’s on the table, they’ll get to it.
Dealers don’t make change. Any money you put on the table will be turned into chips. Then again, you don’t have to bet all your chips. When you’re done, you take whatever chips you have left to the cashier booth to cash them in.
Red chips are worth $5 and green chips are $25. The $1 situs poker online chips are either silver or white. Red and green chips are sometimes called “nickels” or “quarters”, respectively. The dealer may ask “How do you want that?”, meaning do you want all red, or some red and green, etc. Whatever you get, always get at least five silver for tipping the dealer and the cocktail waitress. More on tipping later.
Use Your Slot Card
Yep, you can use your slot card on table games. Just place it on the table with your money. The dealer will give it to a floor supervisor, who will write down the number on the card and then give it back to you. Your play won’t show up as points the next time you put your card into a machine, but you can still get free meals once you’ve played long enough. (Ask a floor supervisor how long you need to play to get a meal.) Free goodies you get from the casino are called comps. (More on comps.)
Make a bet by putting one or more chips in the betting circle or other marked betting area. If you’re betting different color chips, the larger denomination chips go on bottom.
Don’t touch your bet (chips) once you’ve placed it! Some people try to cheat the casino by decreasing their bet (removing chips) when they’ve lost a hand, or adding chips when they’ve won a hand. Because of this, the casinos don’t want your hands near your chips once your bet is placed, and the dealers enforce the no-touching rule very seriously.
When you’re finished playing, push your chips forward and ask the dealer to “color up”, which means to turn your stack of low-denomination chips into a few high denomination chips. That way you have fewer chips to carry over to the cashier cage to cash them in. Just make sure you don’t push your chips into a betting circle, otherwise the dealer might think you want to bet all your chips!
How much to bet
When you’re new at any game, always play the table minimum, usually $5. If you could afford to play quarter slots, you can easy afford to bet $5 a hand at a table. A $500 bankroll is usually sufficient for a weekend of play (15 hours) at most table games.
Getting Help from the Dealer
Don’t be afraid to ask the dealer for help, especially if you don’t understand some of the instructions listed here. For example, you might see that the blackjack strategy below tells you to split two 8’s, and you have two 8’s but you have no idea how to split them. Just ask, “How do I split these?”, and the dealer will tell you how.
Be sure you can tell the difference when the dealer tells you that you can’t do something vs. that you shouldn’t do something. If the dealer says you can’t, well, that’s the rules, and you can’t. But if the dealer advises against something just because they think it’s a bad bet (like splitting 8’s), then remain firm that you want to make your play. Believe it or not, most dealers don’t know the complete and proper strategies for the games they’re dealing, and the other players are no better.
Like waiters, dealers generally make minimum wage and work for tips. I generally tip out $5 per hour I play ($1 at a time throughout the hour). A tip for a dealer is called a toke. You can offer your tip directly to the dealer, or you can place a bet for the dealer. I often ask which they prefer, but almost all dealers go for the bet rather than taking the toke directly. Betting for the dealer is a good way to establish rapport with the dealer, and in games like blackjack when you’re betting against the dealer’s hand, this reminds you that your opponent is really the casino, not the dealer herself. Betting for the dealer is done differently in different games, so just ask the dealer at your game, “How do I place a bet for you?”
Tipping, of course, is optional, and some players don’t tip at all. But remember that most dealers, like waiters, make minimum wage and are really working for tips. (And at the El Cortez, dealers averaged only $21/day in tips in 2003, according to The Dealer’s News.) Also, the IRS takes 28% out of their tip pool right away. I don’t tip unfriendly or unhelpful dealers, but I’ll tip even an average dealer $5/hr. (On the other hand, most U.S. casinos require all dealers to pool their tips together.) Don’t worry about losing money from tipping — $5/hr. is way less than you’d lose on slots.
The cocktail waitress will come around periodically to take your order for free drinks. An adequate tip is a dollar every two drinks.