When’s the Best Time to Gamble in a Casino?

By in Casino & Gaming on
6 Minute Read
Row of Casino Slot Machines, Woman Holding Up Watch

Whenever I hear people ask about the best time to play in a casino, I usually question what they want from the experience. If you don’t want any distractions, then don’t hang around the casino at 9 PM on a Saturday night.

When you’re traveling abroad, the best thing you can do is hook up with someone who knows the area well. They’ll show you the best restaurants, parks, and streets. Sometimes, you may even meet the right people in a casino.

Among my favorite tips for visiting casinos I’ve never been in before is to ask the employees which games they think people enjoy the most. It’s not like you’re asking for inside information on how to beat the slots.

If for some reason they refuse to answer, there may be a few locals who spend more time than most in the casino. These are the folks who randomly comment to each other about “how heavy the crowd is tonight.”

These types of players tell you some of the most helpful things. You may look across a sea of slot machines and wonder which ones players prefer. The local patrons definitely know. They also know the best time to visit the casino.

Savvy travelers have been asking for advice on travel sites for several years. The trick is to know what you want from your experience.

Card Players Have Different Needs From Slot Gamers

Some of my friends play poker. In fact, I have one friend who used to play poker games every single weekend. He had favorite tables at different casinos. He knew when and where to go for a good game of poker.

The trick for him was to decide what mood he was in. Did he want a challenging game? Did he want a better chance of winning easy money?

Guy Holding Up Spread of Poker Cards with Casino Chips on Table, Row of Casino Slot Machines

Poker rooms may keep only one table open during the off-peak hours.  You’re most likely to sit down with the local pros during those hours. If you want a challenging game, they’re the players most likely to oblige you.

If you want to go up against tourists who know less about the game than they think, their favorite times align with the crowd. You’ll have to grab your seat early and wait. You are the hunter, and they are your prey.

Blackjack tables are different. If I want a table to myself, I’ll visit in the mid-afternoon. While there are no guarantees, my chances of playing 1-on-1 against the dealer are better.

Timing the Crowd Is Important for Every Game

Each casino’s crowd moves in at a slightly different time. I think it has something to do with how far people need to drive to get there. One casino gets crowded at 8 PM on a Saturday night. Another casino draws a big crowd at 7:30 PM.

If you have a favorite table or game, you’ll definitely want to beat the crowd. That means arriving an hour or so earlier than you expect everyone else to show up.


If you can’t get there early, then plan on visiting after 11 PM on a weekend. I usually don’t have to wait long for a spot when people start going home.

My wife has several favorite slot games and tries to be flexible because there are always certain games that draw a crowd. If a game she wants to play is like that, she’ll play another game somewhere else.

On the other hand, a friend of mine only plays blackjack when there’s a crowd. He wants to enjoy the environment and insists the casino feels fake when it’s empty.

The best time to gamble in casino is entirely dependent on what you’re looking for out of your gambling experience.

Call Ahead and Ask When the Restaurants Are Less Crowded

Timing the crowd is not always about when your favorite games or tables are available. Some large casinos have thousands of slots and a good selection of table games. They can usually accommodate most evening crowds.

Friends Gathered by Restaurant Table Eating, Make a Reservation Icon

But try getting a seat at a busy restaurant when you’re hungry and need a break from gameplay. If you can make a reservation, do so. Otherwise, plan your evening around your hunger.

We’ve found ourselves standing in line for a popular buffet for longer than 30 minutes. That’s a nice break from playing games and it’s relaxing. But if you’re really hungry, plan your meal ahead and anticipate crowds.

In the past, I’ve ordered takeout from a restaurant within the casino. The longest time I’ve ever had to wait was an hour. Because this has happened a handful of times, my wife brings a couple of candy bars in case we get hungry. Other times, I’ve dropped everything to grab a sandwich before the crowd grew too big.

Sometimes, the best time to gamble in a casino works in conjunction with popular mealtimes. And you can always play around with that schedule.

Ask When the Next Show Starts

An old-timer taught me this trick. We were standing around in a Vegas casino one night. The games we wanted were all full.

My wife said something about picking the wrong casino. At that moment, a couple of guys walking by stopped and told us to wait about 20 minutes. The crowd would thin out for the next show.

They had been coming to Vegas for years. They knew all the ins and outs. We never thought about waiting for people to go see a show.

While not every casino has a show, a lot of them do.

If you want to know whether the crowd will move into an auditorium or an event that’s scheduled for the night, call ahead and find out.

A lot of people go there for the shows, and they only game for a little while before the event.

Visit a Casino During Bad Weather

If there’s a raging tornado ripping up the landscape, get to your basement. If it’s raining outside or there’s an inch of snow on the ground, you could potentially have a good time at a local casino.

As long as you can get there safely, gaming during inclement weather almost guarantees a smaller crowd. There will be other people like you who want to get out and do something.

Outside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Casino, Snowflake, Thermometer

The most ridiculous time my wife and I gambled during bad weather was in a big snowstorm in the northwest. We were staying at a hotel and walked into the casino without stepping outside. The evening was a bit drab because so few people were there but we were safe and had fun. We also got to eat at the restaurant when we wanted to.

While you can’t always plan ahead for these things, it’s a good idea to look at the weather if you’re planning a weekend trip. You may need to change your plans if you were going to do outdoor activities or drive around town.

Schedule Around Tournament Days

If you love tournaments, then check the casino’s website to see when they hold them. If you hate playing when a tournament is going on, then check the casino’s websites to make sure there isn’t one.

Either way, if tournaments take games and tables out of circulation, you should be aware of that. And if you’re visiting another city, look at the casino’s schedule of events.

Tournaments draw crowds and they also draw better card players. The bigger, more well-known tournaments draw huge crowds and the best card players.

If you don’t know whether you like tournament days, plan a visit to a casino during one of its busiest tournaments. See for yourself if you like the experience. Just be prepared to wait for a seat at your favorite games, especially for casino poker tournaments!


Every casino has a personality. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. The crowd, the games, the layout, and the decor all contribute to that personality.

Just like you and I changing moods, the casino goes through different phases throughout the day. The busiest times can be the most exciting or most frustrating.

How do you find the best time to gamble at a casino? You’ll have to visit several times. You can ask people when they like to gamble but they all truly have their own preferences.

What do you like to do when you’re in a casino? Knowing what you want and when that is most likely available is the best way to choose the optimal time to gamble. Play on your schedule as much as you can, and you’ll definitely have more fun that way.

But it helps to be open to unexpected good times, too.

Michael Stevens

Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...

View all posts by Michael Stevens
Email the author at: [email protected]