New to Gambling? Why You Don’t Need to Be Afraid
The gambling world is intimidating to beginners because of all the different games, etiquette, and strategy.
Add in the fact that casinos have an edge in almost every game, and it’s easy to see why new players can fear gambling.
The truth is that you don’t need to be afraid of anything as a new gambler. In fact, you can learn rules and strategy for most games pretty quickly.
Keep reading as I cover all the reasons why starting out in gambling is a cinch. I’ll also discuss a few pitfalls that you should avoid in order to start gambling like a pro immediately.
You Can Learn Casino Game Rules in a Matter of Minutes
One roadblock to playing casino games is that you need to know the rules first. This is especially unnerving with regard to table games, because you have to deal with peer pressure on top of learning.
The good news, though, is that you can quickly pick up rules for most casino games. And in some cases you only have to learn a few bets to get started.
Baccarat is a perfect example because you merely need to know three different bets. These are wagering on the banker hand, the player hand, or on both hands tying.
You can always learn how baccarat’s scoring system works later. But this isn’t crucial with regard to playing the game in the beginning.
Craps is another game where you can quickly get started by learning a few bets. As long as you know how pass line and don’t pass line wagers work, you can stick with these bets until you feel like learning the rest.
Roulette is yet one more example, because you can put your chips down on even-money wagers like high/low and red/black to start with. You can then expand your betting range as you gain more confidence with the game.
Of course, there are always slot and video poker machines for players who want to jump into simple games. Machine-based gambling is rather self explanatory, and there’s no peer pressure to deal with because you can learn at your own pace.
Basic Strategy Isn’t Hard to Learn
Many gamblers start playing games without learning any strategy. And one big reason is because they’d rather rely on luck over having to learn complicated strategy.
But that’s just the thing, because it’s easy to learn strategy for many casino games. This is especially the case when you only have to know the right bets.
Here are few examples of casino games with the easiest strategy:
- Baccarat – Make the banker bet every time.
- Craps – Make a pass line or don’t pass line bet, backed with an odds wager (no house edge).
- Roulette – Choose the best game, which is French roulette (1.35% house edge) or European roulette (2.70%).
- Slot machines – Look for games with high payback.
But what about more complicated games like blackjack or video poker? The truth is that you can even simplify complex game like these.
Blackjack strategy can be quickly learned through a strategy chart. All you need to do is google the term “blackjack strategy chart” to find these resources.
You then choose the specific chart that matches your game’s set of rules (e.g. Atlantic City or Vegas Strip rules).
From here, all you need to do is follow the strategy chart, which shows you what to do based on your score and the dealer’s up-card.
You can also find strategy charts for certain video poker games like Bonus Poker and Jacks or Better. Video poker charts rank hands in terms of importance, and you merely scan down the chart to find what hand you should keep.
One more point worth adding here is that casino gambling strategy is available all over the internet. This means that you can quickly find what you’re looking for in a matter of minutes.
Most Casino Games Don’t Have a High House Edge
While it’s true that the casino holds an advantage over gamblers, the good news is that their edge isn’t very high. This is especially the case if you pick the right games.
Here’s a list of popular casino games along with their house advantage:
- Video poker = 0.27% house edge (Ugly Ducks Deuces Wild)
- Blackjack = 0.5% to 2.8% (varies based on table rules)
- Baccarat = 1.06% (banker bet)
- French roulette = 1.35%
- Craps = 1.36% (don’t pass line bet)
- European roulette = 2.70%
- Let It Ride = 3.51%
- Caribbean stud = 5.22%
- American roulette = 5.26%
- Keno = 10% to 40% (varies by payouts)
Several of these games have a house edge under 3%. This means that the average player can expect to win back $97 or more for every $100 they bet.
With such a thin margin, it’s very common to experience winning sessions.
The key is that you need to use the right strategy to lower the house edge. As long as you do this, then you have a strong chance to win in any given session.
You Can Last for a While in Many Casino Games
Many new gamblers have fears that their bankroll will quickly vanish. But the truth is that your bankroll will actually last quite a while in most games.
You can do some math to figure out how far your money will go in different games. Let’s look at an example using blackjack:
- Your bankroll is $800.
- The house edge is 1%.
- You’re betting $10 per hand.
- The table is seeing 80 hands an hour.
- 80 x 10 = $800 in hourly bets.
- 800 x 0.01 = $8 in theoretical losses per hour.
- Your bankroll will theoretically last for 100 hours (800/8).
Here’s another example using baccarat:
- Your bankroll is $1,000.
- The house edge is 1.06%.
- You’re betting $10 per hand.
- The table is seeing 200 hands an hour.
- 200 x 10 = $2,000 in hourly bets.
- 2,000 x 0.0106 = $21.20 in theoretical losses per hour.
- Your bankroll will theoretically last for 47.17 hours (1,000/21.2).
Slots is one game where many beginners get confused about how quickly their bankroll disappears. But you can even figure out how long your money will last in these games by using a general formula.
Here’s how this works:
- The average player loses 250 units per hour on slots.
- Assume a player is betting $0.25 per spin.
- 225 x 0.25 =$56.25 in losses per hour.
Obviously this is a lot of money to lose. But slots players also perform between 600 and 800 spins per hour.
Volatility also affects the high hourly losses. Slot machines don’t pay too often per payline because they need to account for the jackpot and other large prizes.
Many Casinos Offer Lower Stakes
The size of the gambling stakes you deal with depend upon the casino. For example, a huge Las Vegas resort like The Venetian will have higher stakes than a smaller regional casino.
But generally speaking, most casinos offer stakes that allow anybody to play.
This is especially the case in bigger casino destinations like Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. These places have more options, making it more likely that you’ll find low-stakes games.
It’s possible to find $3 or $5 table minimum bets in bigger gambling destinations.
If your area doesn’t offer low to mid stakes, you can head to online casinos. Depending on the site, you can play table games for $1 and slot machines for as low as $0.01 per spin.
Etiquette Isn’t Hard to Pick Up
One of the scariest parts of playing table games for the first time is the etiquette. After all, it’s embarrassing to offend other players and/or the dealer by doing something stupid.
But this is yet another area where it doesn’t take much time to learn.
One of the biggest etiquette rules is to not touch your cards in blackjack or mini baccarat. The dealer handles the cards in these games, and they want to prevent potential cheating (e.g. card marking or card swapping).
If you touch your cards, the dealer will simply warn you the first couple of times. But it’s still embarrassing to have the dealer chide you for touching cards.
In some circumstances, etiquette involves respecting other players’ superstitions. Craps is a great example because this game is filled with superstitions, including the following:
- Don’t say 7 – When you’re betting with the shooter (e.g. pass line and come bets), a 7 causes you to lose when a point number is established. Fellow players would rather you not utter this number at the table.
- Avoid contact with a hot shooter – Every pass line and come bettor roots for a hot shooter. And it’s considered bad luck to touch a hot shooter in any way because it can disrupt their rhythm.
- Don’t toss the dice off the table – You need to roll the dice with enough force to hit the back wall. But don’t fling them so wildly that they fly off the table, because this is bad luck.
- Avoid being a “don’t” bettor – No rule prevents you from making don’t pass line and don’t come bets. But you should stick with pass line and come wagers if you want to cheer with fellow players during wins.
- Keep your hands away from the table felt– A roll is nullified if the rolling dice hit your hands. What’s worse is that other players will think that you’ve brought bad luck to the table.
The good news is that it doesn’t take long to learn how to fit in with the crowd, even with a game like craps.
You Can Practice Casino Games Online
If you still have reservations about gambling, then you can ease these fears by practicing with online casino games. This is the perfect way to learn the rules and strategy for casino games before you set foot in a brick-and-mortar casino.
The reason is because you don’t have to worry about peer pressure from other players. Instead, you can play at your own pace and learn the games.
Best of all is that you don’t have to spend any money to play at internet casinos. All you need to do is create an account and start playing on your smartphone, tablet, or PC.
What You Need to Watch out for as a New Gambler
Bad Rules and Games
Earlier, I listed the different house edges for popular casino games. But you also have to watch out for bad variations of each game.
Baccarat, blackjack, craps, and video poker are all examples of games that can have lower-paying variations.
Blackjack is a good example because the house edge can vary anywhere from 0.30% to 2.82% based on the table rules.
The worst rule in blackjack is 6:5 payouts for natural blackjacks. This increases the house edge by 1.40% when compared to 3:2 payouts.
You can easily see what size of payout is offered by looking at the center of the table, where this rule is printed.
Another rule that’s written in the center of the table is whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17. You want the dealer to stand, because this lowers the house edge by 0.20%.
You should also watch a game before buying in to see if you’re allowed to double down on any total. Doubling down on any two cards lowers the house edge by 0.25% when compared to only doubling down on 9 through 11.
Baccarat games take 5% commission from winning banker hand bets so they can keep a 1.06% house edge. This is why some players are attracted to no-commission baccarat under the false assumption that it offers a better chance to win.
But the catch is that you only win half your bet when the banker hand wins with a 6. This increases the house edge on the banker hand to 1.46%.
Crapless craps is another example of a casino game that seems favorable, because you can’t lose pass line bets on the come out roll.
2, 3, and 12, which normally cause you to lose a pass line wager on the come out, are instead point numbers in crapless craps. The catch is that 11, which normally helps you win, also becomes a point number.
This doesn’t seem like a big difference, because you’re only sacrificing one guaranteed winner to make three losing numbers become points. However, these changes actually increase the pass line bet house edge from 1.41% to 5.38%.
Oftentimes it’s best to stick with classic versions of casino games so that you don’t get burned by a high house edge.
High Rate of Speed
Playing casino games with a low house edge is a great way to boost your odds of winning. But you also have to be concerned about how fast the game is with regard to bankroll management.
The reason is because the more rounds you play, the more you’ll be exposed to the house edge. This is especially impactful when you want your bankroll to last more than a few hours.
Mini baccarat is a deceiving game because it has a low house edge, yet also plays extremely quick. A fast dealer can deal over 200 hands per hour on a shorthanded table.
Let’s look at how this affects theoretical losses:
- The house edge is 1.06%.
- You’re betting $25 per hand.
- The table is seeing 200 hands an hour.
- 200 x 25 = $5,000 in hourly bets.
- 5,000 x 0.0106 = $53.00 in theoretical losses per hour.
- If the table were only seeing 100 hands, you’d lose $26.60 an hour.
I already covered how the average player loses 300 bets per hour on slot machines. This is another situation where you need to be aware of how the play rate affects your bankroll.
Card counting, daily fantasy sports (DFS), poker, and sports betting are attractive because you have the potential to win long-term profits. But these games are also dangerous because beginners face a much bigger disadvantage in comparison to house-banked casino games.
This is because you’re competing against human opponents, instead of a static house edge.
The benefit to this is that there’s no limit to your winnings. But the drawback is that bad players can face anywhere from a 10% to 30% disadvantage based on their (lack of) skill.
I’m certainly not saying that you should avoid difficult skill-based games if this is what interests you. But no new player should go into these games with a naive mindset.
Thanks to the internet, gamblers have shared strategies and collectively become much better at tough games. This means you need to dedicate a sizable amount of time to improving your skills before winning long-term profits.
Skill-based gambling is really rewarding if you can accept this challenge. But if you’re just looking for a few thrills and entertainment, then I suggest staying with house-banked games.
The biggest bankroll management mistake that gamblers make involves chasing losses, where they bet more in an attempt to win back previous losses.
Some gamblers do this because they believe that they’re “due” to start winning. Others simply chase losses because they’re frustrated and not thinking clearly.
In either case, it’s not a great idea to obsess about winning back losses. After all, casinos have an edge and you are more likely to lose than win.
If you’re going to chase losses, then do so with a controlled negative progression system like the Labouchere. This betting strategy involves creating a string of numbers that add up to your desired profit.
You determine your bet sizes by adding up the first and last number in the string.
If you win, you cross off the numbers and move on to the next bet. When you lose, add the bet to the end of your string.
The goal is to complete the sequence and return to your minimum bet afterward. Here’s an example of how the Labouchere works:
- Your number sequence is: 1 3 5 5 6 5.
- Your first bet is $6 (1 + 5).
- You lose, and your new string becomes: 1 3 5 5 6 5 6.
- Your next bet is $7 (1 + 6).
- You win, and your new string becomes: 3 5 5 6 5.
- Your next bet is $8 (3 + 5).
- You win, and your new sequence becomes: 5 5 6.
The Labouchere is only one example of a negative progression system. But I like this one because it gives you a chance to win back losses without going overboard.
You can’t just sit down to any casino game and expect to maximize your chances of winning. But on the other hand, you don’t need a Ph.D in gambling to be successful.
In fact, you can do well in most casino games simply by doing a little research. Even complex games like blackjack can be conquered with a helpful tool like a strategy chart.
If you still have reservations about going to a brick-and-mortar casino, then I strongly suggest that you practice with some online games. This at least removes the worry about learning how to play and use correct strategy.
Once you get your first few gambling sessions out of the way, then you shouldn’t have any trouble feeling comfortable in future casino sessions.