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The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Enjoying Casinos in Las Vegas

By Kach Umandap March 30th, 2016 Posted in Travel Blog One Comment

Jonathan and I are not gamblers, mostly because neither of us really understand it, enjoy it, or even have the time for it amongst all of our travels and adventures. However, when we decided to check out Las Vegas for the first time, we knew that to get a true sense of what the city is all about, we would have to step inside some of its most iconic casinos and find out for ourselves!

We know that a lot of travel bloggers aren’t keen on writing articles related to this, as if they’re afraid of being seen to promote gambling, but the same could be said for going on a wine or brewery tour! With gambling, just as with drinking, what’s really important is to do it responsibly, which is why we wanted to create this first-timer’s guide to casinos, to help people enjoy casinos responsibly!

Casino Guide and Limo Ride in Las Vegas

Often referred to as the entertainment capital of the world, the City of Las Vegas is best known for mega casino resorts, 24-hour entertainment, and world-famous live shows, almost all of which can be found along the Las Vegas Strip.

The city itself is relatively young, even by US standards – it was established in 1905 and only incorporated as a city in 1911. But thanks to Vegas’ extra tolerant approach to adult entertainment, in particular gambling, the city quickly grew into the entertainment capital of the country, attracting people from all over the world in search of bright lights, excitement, and most of all, money.

Quite simply, gambling (or gaming) is what Las Vegas is most-famous for – Casinos! There are 75 legitimate casinos in Las Vegas, with 43 of them located on the Las Vegas Strip itself, where most of the action is. If casino games are your thing, there are Vegas casino surveys online that aid you in finding which casino has a particular game variation, their limits (like $5 tables), and which one pays the fairest to players. 

Jonathan and the slot machine in Golden Nugget Hotel - Casino Guide for Beginners in Las Vegas

While there are more and more non-gaming activities being introduced into the Las Vegas experience every year – from helicopter rides over the strip, to indoor trampolines and even driving bull-dozers around a giant adult playground – a visit to Las Vegas would not be complete without at least trying the casino experience for yourself.

So how exactly does a complete beginner, a novice just like us, get the most out of their first-time casino experience, without throwing all of their money away, or sitting at the bar because they’re too scared to sit down at a table and place a bet?

Here it is, our complete beginner’s guide to enjoying casinos in Las Vegas!

1. Don’t be afraid!

Casinos can be intimidating places, full of flashing lights, well-dressed staff, security guards, cameras, and lots and lots of rules. But the biggest fallacy of all casinos all over the world is that they look like they’re full of people who know exactly what they’re doing. Well, guess what? They’re not! Many of the people playing games in Las Vegas casinos have absolutely no idea what they are doing, just like you!

Also, most casinos and the people inside of them are nothing like the movies portray them to be – secretive, serious places where men in suits silently place expert bets, glaring at anyone who distracts them. Not at all, you could sit down at almost any table in a casino and strike up a conversation over a game of Blackjack, even asking for advice on how to play the game! Dispelling these common casino myths is your first and easiest hurdle in enjoying your first casino experience in Las Vegas.

Jonathan and the slot machine in Golden Nugget Hotel - Casino Guide for Beginners in Las Vegas

2. Learn about the games before you play

As with everything in life, it’s the lack of knowledge that causes us to be scared – the fear of the unknown. Every game in a casino is made up of rules, which can be learned and understood with a little research and practice. You can even learn the most basic rules of a game, allowing you to play for fun without knowing everything.

Take Blackjack for example – the basic rule of the game is for the value of your cards to total 21. The dealer deals you two cards, then based on the total value of those two cards, you decide whether or not you want another card to try to reach 21. If the dealer gets closer than you to 21, or your cards total over 21, then you lose. Simple!

Jonathan learning how to play black jack in Golden Nugget Hotel, Las Vegas

There are a few ways you could learn about the games before playing them:

1.Read up online before you even start your vacation or venture into a casino.

The internet is full of guides written by experts and non-experts, just for people like us! They come with all kinds of handy diagrams, explanations in plain English, and even video tutorials.

2. Free Casino Gaming Lessons

Most casinos are very keen to help you learn how to play the games in their casinos – of course, they are, they make their money when we lose it playing their games! The great thing about this is that casinos often offer free lessons for a variety of casino games, including Blackjack, Roulette, and different types of Poker. These beginner lessons are most likely to be in the morning but check with your hotel or the casino to find out. Another benefit of attending the free lessons is that you’ll meet a few other people in the same boat as you, have a laugh and a joke about it and place some friendly bets together in a pretend gambling situation, which will hopefully put you at ease and give you a little extra confidence about playing.

Jonathan learning how to play black jack in Golden Nugget Hotel, Las Vegas

3. Practice

Reading about the games and being told about them is one thing, but practice makes perfect. You can practice amongst friends on the kitchen table over a couple of beers, or if you really want to get your feet wet without actually entering a real casino, you could play online casino. Whichever way you choose to practice, you’ll feel a lot more confident and feel much more relaxed. Don’t get too carried away with that confidence though, remember that you are a beginner, you do have a budget and your casino experience is just one small part of your Las Vegas vacation!

3. Set your limits and stick to them

Let’s face it, you’re not a professional gambler and you’re probably didn’t re-mortgage your house to raise funds for your first Las Vegas gambling experience! What you should do is seek out the games with the lowest spend per bet, which means you can place more bets for the same budget. On your first visit to Las Vegas, or to any casino, you’re here for the experience, not to try to ‘win big.’

The key to this is to check the ‘table minimum’ before sitting down to play. The table minimum is the smallest bet you can place for each round of the game, which is normally posted clearly on a sign on or next to the table. The lower the table minimum, the less you bet per round, the longer you can extend your first casino experience without blowing your budget.

Black Jack in Golden Nugget - Casino Guide for Beginners in Las Vegas

4. Enjoy Free Drinks and Snacks!

That’s right, you heard it – free drinks and snacks for as long as you’re putting small change into a slot machine, or placing bets at a table! In fact, if you play, drink and eat wisely, then you could have a great time and spend less than you would in a bar or a club! Waiters and waitresses will come to you to take your order and it is customary to tip a dollar or two per drink. In fact, not tipping will make it unlikely that they will come back to serve you again – servers in Las Vegas work for tips and they work long hard hours, so what’s fair is fair.

with the lovely servers in Jonathan and the slot machine in Golden Nugget Hotel - Casino Guide for Beginners in Las Vegas

5. Learn the Unwritten Rules, or ‘Casino Etiquette’

Just like any other situation, learning the basic social customs and interactions will ensure that you stay on good terms with the dealer and other players and prevent you from being told off by any staff members, which would obviously spoil the experience for you.

Tipping the dealer is a very important custom in casinos, even more so than in restaurants, and some players even consider it good luck. A basic guideline is at least $5 per hour, or half your minimum bet every hour. Tip with chips, not with cash. Other simple etiquettes are basic social laws that previously existed in everyday life, like ‘no phones at the table’.

SM Monkey - Section Dividers 1600 px

There you have it – a simple beginners’ guide to simple beginners’ gambling in Las Vegas casinos! Follow these easy steps to get the most out of your first Las Vegas casino experience.

1. Don’t be Afraid!

2. Learn about the games before you play

  • Read up online before you even start your vacation or venture into a casino.
  • Grab the Free Casino Gaming Lessons
  • Practice (play online)

3. Set your limits and stick to them

4. Enjoy the Free Drinks and Snacks!

5. Learn the Unwritten Rules, or ‘Casino Etiquette’

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Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.