How to Feel Like a Pro in a Casino (Even If It’s Your First Time)

There’s only so many times you can watch your favorite gambling movies before the urge to gamble becomes too much to bear. So, you finally decide to break the seal and head to your casino of choice. There’s only one problem: You’re entirely unfamiliar with what a casino is like and what you should expect.

The moment you walk into a casino for the first time is an incredible experience. The entire atmosphere can be somewhat overwhelming for first-time gamblers due to the plethora of games most casinos feature. If you’re like me, you might feel anxious about what to do in a casino once you walk through the front doors.

That feeling of anxiety is understandable and is a commonality amongst most new gamblers. To make sure you’re prepared for your first gambling trip, it’s essential to keep a few things in mind. Here are seven tips to help you feel like a pro at a casino, even if it’s your first time.

1 ‒ Dress the Part

Dress well, play well. The dress code at casinos can vary, but most allow gamblers to wear any type of clothing as long as it’s in good taste. My first time gambling, I threw on a tank top, basketball shorts, and flip flops. Imagine the looks I got at a blackjack table full of grumpy old gamblers. If looks could kill.

I’m not saying you have to throw on a tuxedo just to go gamble, but it never hurts to dress to impress. My typical outfit of choice is usually a nice pair of jeans, boots, and a collared shirt. This ensemble provides comfort and a little bit of style.

If you’re going on a gambling trip to places like Vegas, Atlantic City, or Reno, consider dressing up, especially if you’re going to play at a nicer casino. If you look the part, you will feel more comfortable at the tables and feel like you belong.

2 ‒ Come Prepared

The most common mistake among inexperienced gamblers is a lack of preparation. You might think that playing a few hands of blackjack on your phone during the drive to the casino will prepare you for what’s ahead. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Every table game has rules, regulations, and etiquette that must be followed to both win money and not disillusion yourself from the other players. If you take the time to read up on these rules, you will feel more confident in your decision-making abilities and put your anxiety at ease.

Some of the only games that require limited preparation are slots, and I doubt you want to spend your entire trip parked in front of a machine. Most table games have simple rules to follow, while the strategy can be more complicated. Table games are the most exciting part of the casino experience and are certainly worth your time understanding the gameplay and etiquette.

3 ‒ Stick to Your Budget

The best gamblers will set an amount that they feel comfortable losing before they start gambling. This budget, known as your bankroll, doesn’t have to be a certain amount but should not give you discomfort if you lose it. Walking into a casino knowing that you could potentially lose your bankroll is a veteran move that every young gambler should make.

Casinos exist to make money, and you will be at a slight disadvantage at any table where you choose to sit down. If things go poorly and you lose, setting an amount will indicate when it is time to head home.

I’ve been known to visit an ATM at a casino after blowing through my bankroll and let me be the first to tell you, it never goes well. Playing catch up and chasing losses leads to more losses and the deterioration of your confidence going forward.

Even veteran gamblers have made the walk of shame from the table to the ATM and back. It’s part of the game. But if you establish good habits early, you will be less tempted to blow past your set amount and potentially spiral out of control.

4 ‒ Take Care of the Dealer

There are dozens of stereotypes in the gambling community, but the worst is the gambler who heckles the dealer. I’ve seen my fair share of horror stories sitting around blackjack tables, and most involve a belligerent player who takes all of his frustration out on the dealer. If you’re new to casinos and don’t want to let on to your inexperience, never let your anger out on dealers.

Dealers have virtually no control over the results of any game in a casino, yet certain gamblers find it appropriate to blame them for their misfortune. Almost every dealer I have encountered is kind and professional, yet I seem to always come across someone who treats them with zero class. Dealers are just employees trying to make a living in a work environment that requires a fair amount of skill and mental ability.

If you want to get off on the right foot with a dealer, which all new gamblers should aspire to do, make sure you are tipping them generously. Dealers make meager hourly wages and earn most of their money off of tips. By tipping the dealer, you demonstrate your appreciation for their work and establish rapport, which is crucial for new gamblers.

5 ‒ Don’t Abuse Table Service

When I was younger, I always aspired to look as cool as Daniel Craig, sipping a cocktail and playing poker in Casino Royale. After I turned 21, I was finally able to take advantage of free drinks at the casino and do my best impression of James Bond. Instead of classily sipping a cocktail while playing blackjack, I drank too much and lost all of my money.

This anecdote, albeit predictable given my naivete, serves an important purpose. Professional gamblers do not overdrink. If they choose to partake in a beverage while playing poker, it’s usually coffee or water. You might happen across the occasional seasoned vet who nurses a whiskey for an hour, but for the most part, they abstain.

Drinking while gambling is fun, and if you are going to the casino to have a good time with your friends, go ahead and take advantage of the free drinks. The profit comes after hours and hours of diligence and technically sound playing, and alcohol only serves to cloud your judgment.

6 ‒ Surround Yourself With Successful Gamblers

On the subject of gambling friends, few things feel better than going on a heater with your buddies sitting next to you at the table. Bringing friends along for the first few times at a casino goes a long way to provide comfortability and help you get loose. If you’re lucky, you have some friends who are smart gamblers with some experience.

A strong network of fellow gamblers can help instill good habits during the early stages of your gambling career. Unfortunately, friends who consistently lose money at the casino can pose significant problems for your pursuit of profitable trips.

Speaking from experience, my best friend from college is older than me and gambles regularly but rarely wins money. After a few hands of blackjack with him, it became painfully obvious why he was losing money. He plays against the book and uses betting systems, insisting that he can gain an edge on the casino. Playing poker with your friends is a blast, but if they consistently lose money, consider limiting your communal poker playing to a weekly poker night at a friend’s house.

7 ‒ Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously

To this point, I’ve offered advice that might contradict this point. If you watch the greats play, you’ll notice that the most successful poker players can handle losses maturely and poke fun at themselves if things don’t go their way. There’s a reason these folks can make a living off poker.

You should go to a casino to have fun, and no one likes to be at a table with crotchety gamblers. Until you can develop the skills and strategies that are necessary to turn a profit, always remember that you came to enjoy yourself. Once you start losing money and stop having fun, there’s no point in gambling.


Mistakes are unavoidable if you’re new to gambling, but if you follow these tips, you should be able to limit them effectively. Preparation and due diligence are essential to successfully navigating your first trip to the casino. As long as you prepare to play the right way, no one can fault you for potential mishaps.

Remember to have a plan in place that involves an amount you’re comfortable with losing and a basic strategy for the games you want to play. Finally, make sure you enjoy yourself. There’s nothing quite like gambling at a casino for the first time, so be sure to make the most of your experience.

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 since early 2016.

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