Gambling can be an enjoyable and rewarding hobby for players who have a lot of practice and know what they’re doing. But it’s often the case that new players lose so much when they first walk into a casino that they end up walking away broke, jaded, and unwilling to come back.
That’s why I always recommend you practice well before you step foot into a casino. If you don’t spend time practicing and figuring out how the most common games work, you’re going to be in for a bad session.
With that being said, how much you should practice can differ from person to person and from game to game. Instead of breaking things down by game, I’m going to give you some strategies for practicing that can be tailored to your playstyle.
How Much You Need to Practice Really Depends on You
I can’t stress this enough, everyone is different. Now, I’m sure you’ve been hearing this all your life. And my goal here is not to tell you something you don’t know, but rather to tell you that you need to take this into account when you’re gambling.
Because of the nature of gambling and casino games in general, there are going to be some people who pick it up right away. There’s a reason you hear about child prodigies in games like poker and chess. Some people can simply learn the rules and have it make absolute, perfect sense to them right away. Because of the nature of games themselves (they’re extremely limited by the rules and are generally math-oriented), certain people who think a certain way are likely going to pick up on them immediately.
So, you might be one of those people who sits down at a poker table and starts winning right away. You might be the gal who goes to play blackjack and learns they’re a whiz. The point is that you probably won’t know until you sit down and try.
Now, with that being said, there’s definitely such thing as beginner’s luck… And you have to play long enough and give yourself enough time to figure out if you’re just getting lucky or if you’re actually a whiz kid.
Well, what does that mean? I would say you need to play the game of your choice at least 10 times before you figure out if you’re a secret genius at the game. So if you’re playing poker, you’ll want to sit down at 10 different games, for example. If you’re playing roulette, maybe you’ll want to play 10 different times for an hour at a time (playing for an extended period then stopping).
Now, if during those different experiences you find that you’re kicking butt and taking names, then it may be the case that you’re one of those people who has an instinct for the game. And believe me, it’s more common than you might think.
But if you go through this initial phase and find out that you’re not a whiz kid, then it’s time to move on to my next tip.
Play Often Enough That You Never Have to Think About the Rules
Listen, casinos are money-making machines. Their entire reason for existence is to take your money. They’re not there to be your friend, they’re there to make a profit. They’re designed to ensure that you lose, even if what you lose is very small. For everyone who learns games well and figures out how to reduce the house edge, there’s going to be a huge number of people who walk into the casino a little too drunk, lose all their money, and laugh it off.
If your goal is not to be one of these fellas and to actually walk away with cash in your pocket, then you need to practice, at the very least, until you have the rules down so clearly that there’s no question of skill entering into the equation.
What does that mean? It means that you’re not losing because you made a mistake. You’re not playing poorly. You understand how the hands work in the card games, for example, the order of play, the order of betting, the rules of betting, and you know this so well that you don’t even have to think about it.
Now, there are some games in casinos that involve a lot more chance, like roulette, and for those games, you’re going to reach this point of proficiency a lot quicker. You’re going to find yourself easily able to get all the rules down and keep playing. For other games that kind of fall in between, like craps, your mileage may vary.
I can tell you that what ends up costing most new players (in terms of literal dollars) is a misunderstanding of the rules. They sit down at the poker table and forget the order of betting and get kicked out of a hand they would have won, or cause everyone to fold when they were holding a full house. You see, some people who sit down at blackjack don’t understand when they need to split their hands and when they need to double their bets.
All this leads to a loss of money over time. The main way in which the casinos make their money is through small losses over time and large losses every now and then on the weekends. You don’t want to be the kind of player who loses, and you don’t want to lose more over time than you need to. So, you should learn the rules well enough to make sure the amount you lose over time is as low as possible.
What does this mean? Well, for every game in a casino, the house has a statistical edge. For example, if you’re playing blackjack, the house edge is usually around 2%. This means that, on average, you lose $2 for every $100 you spend.
Now, that might not seem like a lot, especially if you’re playing slowly, but it adds up. And it’s essentially the cost you pay to play.
However, if you have a good blackjack strategy and really know what you’re doing, you can cut the house edge down to half of a percent or possibly even lower. Some games allow you to nearly eliminate the house edge completely.
What that does for you is give you more chances to come out on top. The best advice you’ll ever hear about gambling is to quit while you’re ahead. You need to quit while you’re ahead because the house is going to get that money from you over the long run.
If you keep playing, you are guaranteed to lose. House edges only come into play in statistically significant numbers, like thousands of people playing hundreds of thousands of hands in blackjack, for example. Over the short term, you have the advantage because you can end up with a large amount out of the pure randomness of playing.
And if you win that large amount, you’re either really lucky, or you understand the rules of the game and playing well enough to know how to use those rules to your advantage.
So, once you know the rules, are you good to just go out and play? Sure. But there’s more you ought to think about.
Take Advantage of Free Gambling Lessons at Casinos
Okay, so let’s say you’ve done your homework. You’ve practiced all your casino games of choice online, you really feel like you know what you’re doing, and the rules are clear, but you still haven’t made it into the casino yet.
Before you go in, why not take advantage of the free gambling lessons that most casinos offer first?
The reason you should do this is because most games have a hidden set of rules that have nothing to do with the game itself. Those rules include the etiquette required at the table. And when you take the free gambling lessons that most big casinos offer (usually for free at predetermined times), they’ll teach you the etiquette of playing on top of the actual rules themselves.
If you truly want to be successful when you finally sit down at a table to play, you need to have a very clear understanding of the social situation you’re walking into. A few things that can really mess with your concentration is making a social mistake, breaking etiquette, and getting other players upset with you. This can bring your emotions back into play (when you were trying to keep emotions out of it), and it can cause significant problems with your strategy.
Getting distracted in this way because there’s a set of rules that everyone seems to know but you is no fun and can cost you big time at the tables. Take the necessary time to sit down at these free gambling lessons and specifically ask about the etiquette for your game of choice. You’ll be glad you did.
Gambling is different for everyone, and not everyone is going to take to it right away. Take your time, learn the rules, polish your play until you’ve got some strategies in place, learn the etiquette of each game, and you should be prepared to sit down at the tables.
Is there anything I left out here? Let me know in the comments.
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. ...
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