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Best tips and casinos for first time gambler?

First trip to Vegas, and I have some money set aside to gamble. I'm fairly new to gambling, so what's a good overall strategy for a first timer? Best casino's and games to play? Any tips to help my luck?


13 Answers

top answer by
Steven from Winston Salem

Well, I've been going to Vegas (and gambling) for over 25 years, so I know something about this. :)  The first thing to do, as you seem to have done, is to set aside a daily allowance just for gambling (and DO NOT TAP INTO MORE).  As indicated below, almost all casino's have daily "lessons" that teach you the basics of each game, and they do a decent job.  To get a good feel for the game, I would HIGHLY suggest going to downtown and trying the casino's there.  Why? The have MUCH MUCH lower minimum bets (and you get the same thrill as winning) than anywhere on the strip (that I know of).  Here are some of my favorite games:

-- Pai Gow Poker : If you like poker, this is a cool version.  You are playing against the banker (almost always the house), and it's a straight up head-to-head poker hand battle (where in the rare case the banker get's ties) so the house edge is very small.  You can easily play "poker" for hours and not be up or down too much.  There are various side bets, but those are huge house advantages (where they make most of the money).  Some places offer 0% commission on wins (they have even larger house advantages on the side bets to make up for it) but if they don't then only when you win do you pay the house 5%.  It's a lot of fun! 

-- Craps : This is "social" gambling game.  When a table gets hot, the action is fast and fun.  Don't be intimidated, especially downtown where you can play the basic bet for only $5 (house advantage is like 5% on PASS/COME bets).  Play only the basic bets (Pass Line/Come bets with some "odds" behind) and avoid the odd/weird side bets (huge house advantage).  If the table is "busy" and people look like they are having fun, play the "DO" line (Pass/Come). If the table looks dead (but not empty) and people look like zombies, do what I do for fun and play the "DON'T" pass.  You'll get a ton of mean looks (stay at one end of the table! LOL) but I bet you'll win more.  If the table starts getting "hot" then you can switch to the "COME" line again . 

-- Poker : Stay away from this unless you really know what you are doing, especially NO LIMIT Holdem.  If you must, play limit holdem at like a $1/$2 type table. 

-- BlackJack: The queen of the table games.  Make sure to download an app to understand the concept of basic strategy.  It will help, but unless you are lucky you can win/lose a lot here fast. The idea of card counting to make a big advantage is nearly impossible except for very very experienced teams of players, etc. (See the movies).  But you can have some fun.  Downtown tables are $5/hand most days.  Maybe $10 on weekends, nights. 

-- Slots: Strangely, addictive sometimes.  There ARE strategies for the games because they can be controlled (not by us!) and tinkered as to the actual average payout rate.  Some machines are actually set to payout back higher than others.  Generally, the higher the $ the higher the payout, but even in a bank of $1 slots (for example) each slot machine can (and is) set to payout different amounts.  Why?  Psychology.  Casino's know that many many people play 2 slots side by side.  So they set one lower.  The key is to try to find the "magic" ones. In no case will a slot payout a POSITIVE flow of course, but just higher than others. In the "old" days they would actually have signed on banks of slots indicating the average payout for that bank, and it used be up to 98.5%! Meaning the AVERAGE slot for the whole bank would give that back, some giving more, some less. Generally, end of aisles and high visibility areas would pay out more to generate more excitement, but it changes all the time.

Most importantly, view this as entertainment!  And don't go beyond your pre-planned gambling limit. 

Have fun!

7 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Spencer from Los Angeles

Steven has some great tips. As far as casinos go, ARIA Resort & Casino is fun but feels less like the old Vegas casinos that leave a bit to be desired. Feels less like a casino and more like a resort, but still cool. If you're new, a couple good places to start, as Steven mentioned, is Blackjack and Pai Gow. Blackjack you can lose money a LOT quicker, where as Pai Gow is a nice game to sit down for a while, take your time, take it all in, and have fun without losing so much money at one time. The slots are a complete waste in my opinion.

Just remember, the house really does always win :).

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. ARIA Resort & Casino (hotel)
4 thanks

answered by
Raif from Bethesda, Maryland

I won't bother repeating all the good advice that is already on this thread, but I'll try offering some new stuff. ALWAYS sign up for a players card, no matter where you go. Also, always put the card into the machine or present it to the dealer before playing. Depending on the casino, as you accrue some play on your card, some will give you some of your losses back, free spins on wheels, random prizes, free buffets, free hotel nights etc.

As for the best hotel, as others have said, it really depends on your budget and what you're looking to get out of the experience. Sometimes it's fun just to drink for free (no matter where you go, as long as you're gambling, drinks are free) so you can sit at one of the many bars, play low limit video poker and get wasted. The MGM Grand Las Vegas used to have a really fun game called quarter horses where these plastic horses raced around a wooden track and you'd bet on them but only in increments of 25c up to a max of $5 per horse. You'd be surprised how into it everyone gets. I'm not sure if it's still there. If you have some time to kill and are looking to get a lot of mileage out of your gambling budget, I'd go for low limit blackjack or craps at some of the downtown casinos others have suggested. If you want a chance at a big pay off, go for the slots or video poker. Video poker actually has the best odds in the casino if you play it right, but it takes some studying and a whole lot of playing in order for the variance to even out. In the short run, you're probably going to either lose your budget or make a lot.

In general, the downtown and off strip casinos are going to be a little more run down, a lot more smoky, but a lot more desperate to try to capture your gambling dollars with some pretty good promos. Depending on your tolerance for the first two, the third may make it worthwhile. No matter where you go, don't pass up just walking around the Wynn Hotel Las Vegas, the ARIA Resort & Casino, the Bellagio Hotel, The Cosmopolitan, and/or The Venetian even if you don't end up gambling at any of these classy places. They're beautiful, have millions of dollars worth of art in them, and attract the young and beautiful clientele (especially on club nights).

Last but not least, luck is luck. You can't help it. Don't fall for any tips guaranteed to beat the casinos or optimal gambling strategies or any of that stuff. The house always wins in the long run, so treat it as entertainment. That said, by using a players card and getting your free stuff, drinking your free drinks, and choosing your games wisely, you can reduce the house edge to pretty minimal.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. MGM Grand Las Vegas (hotel)
  2. Wynn Hotel Las Vegas (hotel)
  3. ARIA Resort & Casino (hotel)
  4. Bellagio Hotel (hotel)
  5. The Cosmopolitan (hotel)
  6. The Venetian (hotel)
4 thanks

answered by
AJ from United States

Both of the answers here so far have been great...I'd just add that you should give thought about what you want out of your gambling experience.  You can either "tip-toe in on the cheap" as Josh suggests in his last comment if what you want to do is spend the most amount of time gambling but not the most amount of money.  As a bonus, you typically get a feel of what gambling in "old Las Vegas" might have been like.

However, if you want to indulge in your James Bond/Oceans 11 fantasies, then yes, big strip options like the Wynn Hotel Las Vegas, Bellagio Hotel and so on would be the way to go.  

If you're aiming for more young, hip, but not outlandishly pricy, I've had fun times at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

If you're into sports betting ARIA Resort & Casino has a comfy Sportsbook.

As for the games themselves, play a game you already know how to play or play one that you just really want to play.  I find that Blackjack makes a great intro game since most are already familiar with how to play.  Just be aware of some of the key differences in Vegas style play vs home play. 

I'll also reiterate what Josh says since it's a good bit of advice:  any game where you don't know the rules or basic strategy is a horrible one to play, as there are many newer games that are specifically engineered to maximize the house's take.

The best way to help your luck is to not get in over your head.  Set a limit and stick to it...hell, even set a limit to how much you can win.  There's nothing like the high of just punching through your "goal" willfully stopping and leaving Las Vegas feeling like you were a part of the MIT blackjack team.  And much more commonly, there's nothing like the low of realizing that you've over extended yourself and now you have to figure out how to explain to your self/wife/child how you managed to lose so much.

And if you do lose your bankroll...for the rest of the trip just walk around, see the sights, have a bloody mary at the Peppermill Restaurant while by the fire, hit up a buffet and really "get your money's worth."  Basically, really figure out why you're in Vegas in the first place...and then just go and do it!

4 thanks

answered first by
Peter from Munich

I have been to Vegas a couple times but never gambled. The only tip i can give you is, try some of the free pulls on slot machines. Like at the Binion's. The odds of winnig are low, but hey its free. But on the other side, putting money in a machine is no gambling for me. Gambling is real gambling against the casino with other people. Another tip: Make sure you know the official rules before you start gambling. This helps you to avoid losing money because of mistakes you could make. I dont know how familiar you are with all the diffrent games. Other than that, set yourself a limit and if you lose it, well its gone, but better as loosing money without any overview what you really lost.

When you play at the casinos, sign up for their players card. That keeps track of what you spent and earns you maybe some freebies on the other side, if you spend a lot of money.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Binion's (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Seth from Tamarac, Florida

Take the $500 you budgeted to spend and put $400 into your savings for your next trip and take $100 and play some tables.

2 thanks

answered by
Janelle from Charleston

Tip #1: If you're talking about card games or roulette, go with someone who is experienced and knows what they're doing.  Let the other person gamble, and stand behind them and watch and learn.  You can also go online and google each game and visit sites that give strategy tips.  Some of the larger casinos also offer classes for beginners.  Don't join in until you're familiar with the basic rules and strategies of the game. 

Tip #2: Set aside a small fund and don't go over it.  When you've used it up it's time to stop for the day and hit the pool, go out to shop or eat, or go see a show.

Tip #3: Don't drink too much and don't do any judgment impairing drugs.  They lower your inhibitions and make you more reckless than you'd be when sober.  The drinks may be free, but that's no reason to drink irresponsibly.

Tip #4: Like Cameron Stark below says, befriend the dealers and ask them for strategy advice, and tip them well.

Tip #5: Remember that the odds are tremendously against you, and YOU WILL LOSE.  Let that be part of the fun and part of the experience, and use it as an excuse not to go overboard.

I've only been to LV twice and stayed at Caesars Palace both times.  It's an older resort, but it's been recently renovated and is a very good mid-upper range option.  No need to waste money on the Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Wynn or Four Seasons when less expensive hotels like Caesars, The Mirage, Paris Las Vegas and The Venetian are just as nice. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Caesars Palace (hotel)
  2. The Mirage (hotel)
  3. Paris Las Vegas (hotel)
  4. The Venetian (hotel)
1 thanks

answered by
Cameron from Salt Lake City

I have had a "rating" at a strip casino hotel, when I gambled a lot, which afforded me suite upgrades, tickets to shows, meals, etc. It also required me to sit for three to four hours a day at a table, playing $50-100 a hand. That being said, I would never try to learn to gamble on the strip, with one exception - their free lessons during the day. My family has a tradition that kids when they turn 21 we do a Vegas trip with them, so 20-30 aunts, uncles, cousins and the birthday boy/girl converge for a weekend. We always play downtown Vegas. 

The dealers downtown are almost always friendly and willing to help give tips - remember they work for the Casino, but they make tips off the players. They don't make any more if the house wins, so they want to see players win, because they'll get thrown a tip here and there when players are hot. Keep it in mind when you have a friendly dealer. 

If you've never been to Vegas, walking the strip is a must, because it is so much larger than life and ridiculous. Others have recommended hotels and casinos for various reasons and they're all great recommends. But in the end, a hotel room in Vegas is a place to lay your head, so unless you're trying to impress someone with the room, or deciding to go extravagant (it is Vegas, after all), an off-strip hotel is usually just as comfortable as one on the strip and Uber or a taxi is a few dollars away from the strip. Everyone has their preferred casino. I can't play Mandalay Bay, because I never win, yet I have a friend who only plays there, because it's the only place he wins. Another friend of mine loves Treasure Island. I love the Venetian, because I met one of the executives while playing the tables there when they first opened. Some of my friends feel as though the Bellagio is the place to play. When it comes down to it, play where you're comfortable. It makes gambling more fun and easier to stomach when you lose, and more enjoyable when you win. 

Have fun, enjoy more than tables while in Vegas and good luck!

1 thanks

answered by
Jacqui from London

Hi Neil, 

Don't be afraid to ask others about the rules of the games before you play! 

But also don't think that you have to play - there is plenty to do in Las Vegas than just gambling:


1 thanks

answered by
Kara from England

I thought the The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was the most laid back and modern casino. This is where as a newbie i gambled is say blackjack and the slot machines was best as easy enough to win while not having to much knowledge on how to play and you can win big.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (hotel)
1 thanks

answered by

A good strategy would be to not lose money to easily. So how do you do that? Stay away from all games where you play directly against the house. The casino has a substantial mathematical edge over you in those games. I personally only play no limit texas hold'em cash games (don't like the tournament format). In Poker you don't play against the house, you play against other players which means that you'll often play against more or less intoxicated people who simply want to have a good time and have no real clue about the game. Look for full ring (9-10 people) $1/$2 tables. You won't play too many hands per hour and can't lose your shirt. I personally have a rule that I only reload twice per night, should I hit a bad day.

My favorite casino is the Bellagio Hotel, which is in the middle of the strip.

If you want to prepare yourself for the game (and you should), there are many good books. I like the "Harrington on cash games" series. If you are more into training by doing, you can sign up for a site like cardrunners, deucescracked or testyourpoker.

Hope that helps for a first direction...

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Bellagio Hotel (hotel)
1 thanks

answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

If it is a blackjack table, then you can buy at little card at the souvenir stores that tells you the odds. If it is a 5$ table, then l take a $20 and buy 4 chips. Then l play with that. 

There are good players that offer lessons. At the MGM Grand Las Vegas they have tournaments at 10 AM and later. If you play in the Texas Hold Em it is fun and you learn to play the fun way. The casinos offer lessons and classes and will help you.  

With the players card, if you use it in the slots, then play a lot at the casino hotel you stay in. Ask the Casino Host if they can comp your room stay for game play🎩🎱🍀

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. MGM Grand Las Vegas (hotel)
1 thanks

answered by
Drew from Ojai

You might want to start off at an off-the-strip casino that’s smaller, less intimidating, and where the odds are a little more in your favor. El Cortez Hotel & Casino is a good one to start with. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. El Cortez Hotel & Casino (hotel)
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