The 7 Best Casino Games for Beginners (And Why They’re Great)
Every year, millions of people plan their first trip to a casino. Casinos around the US offer a wide variety of entertainment such as concerts, comedy shows, live stunt events, magic shows, sporting events, amusement rides and a whole host of other attractions.
But the main attraction for casinos is, of course, gambling. From my point of view, there are few things that will get my adrenaline pumping than placing a bet, winning and watching the winnings grow with each bet. To that same extent, there is nothing more heartbreaking than watching a pile of winnings dwindle into a pile of empty dreams with a big loss.
For the first time visitor, a casino can be overwhelming. There are a great many games you can play and they all have different rules. Even games that most are familiar with before walking through the door like poker have several variations that have different rules and odds. It can all be confusing and even overwhelming.
But luckily it is not all that hard to understand. It does take time and you will have to put in some effort to study the games. But gambling is one of the few things in life that even if you lose, you can have fun.
It is important to stress that if you are new to gambling, do not make large bets on anything. You will be playing with real money. And unlike games with friends, there are no do-overs. Also, if you spend all of your money quickly, you won’t have the fun on learning the ins and outs of the games.
Some see casinos as a way to make a quick buck. Quite frankly, this is very unlikely. In all honesty, you will go home with a lot less money than you started with.
But if you play the right games and play prudently, you will go home with a lot more knowledge on how to play better for the next outing to the casino.
Part of your planning for your first casino trip is to decide what games to play. When deciding on what games to play, it is best to gravitate to games that are friendly to beginners or games that you may have played with friends at home and already have an understanding of the basics.
But even games that you may not be fully aware of may be a good game for a beginner such as yourself to try.
I remember my first trip to a casino was to the Horseshoe Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana about 20 years ago. A friend of mine took me there on our way to New Orleans. We made an immediate trip to the blackjack tables.
Blackjack is a pretty well-known quantity to even the most novice of players. I know as a kid, we didn’t even call it blackjack, we called it 21. The goal was right there in the name of the game.
Blackjack is played with a standard poker deck. In most cases, classic blackjack is played with a multi-deck, but the range is anywhere from a single deck up to 8. The more decks favor the house. Most real money blackjack sites use 8 decks.
In blackjack, each player is dealt 2 cards face down. The dealer is dealt 2 cards, one face up, and one face down. After the cards are dealt, you have a few options:
- Hit (receive another card)
- Stand (receive no more cards and end the turn)
- Double Down (double the bet, receive one more card and end the turn)
- Surrender (give up half the bet and quit)
- Split (separate paired cards where you are dealt a second card for each card to create 2 new unique hands)
The goal is to get a 21 in a few cards as possible. When you get a 21 with only 2 cards, it is called a “natural”.
Blackjack is one of the best games to start with because of the player vs. dealer aspect of the game. You do not have to strategize against a group of experienced players to win. If you go during slow periods (in our case in Bossier City, we started playing at 3 am) the dealer can and will take the time to walk you through the game and let you know all of your options.
And as far as the possibility of winning, most casinos only have a house edge of about 1% making it among one of the best games to play if you are looking to walk away with some cash.
Another great game for beginners is craps. Admittedly, it can be an intimidating game for the uninitiated. But when you strip down all of the different types of bets and formalities, it is simply a game of dice.
In craps, the game starts with “Pass Line” bet. When all bets have been placed, you will take the dice and roll them. This is known as the “Come Out” roll.
If you roll a 7 or 11, you win automatically. If you roll a 2, 3 or 12, you lose. All other totals will require you to roll again. If you have to roll again, you must roll the same number again, this is called the “point”. You will continue to roll until you hit the point. However, if you roll a 7 before hitting the point, you lose.
As with blackjack, the dealer is there to help you, but the best times to learn are during slow periods.
For the beginner, Roulette can be a very simple way to win. If you stick to just betting on reds or blacks, you have almost a 50-50 chance of winning. It’s almost 50-50 because there is the possibility of the color green winning, which is the 0 or 00 positions on the wheel.
For the most part, betting is simple for roulette, although there are more complicated bets for more experienced players it comes down to pick a color and bet on it or pick a number and bet on it. The dealer drops the ball on the spinning roulette wheel and if the ball lands on the option you chose, you win.
4- Video Poker
Video poker is one of the more popular choices in any casino. Most people already know the basics of poker. For example, the ranks of each hand are:
- Royal Flush – ace, a king, a queen, a jack and a 10, all of matching
- Straight Flush – 5 cards in consecutive order all of the same suit.
- 4 of a Kind – 4 cards of the same rank.
- Full House – 3 cards of matching rank and 2 cards of another matching rank.
- Flush – 5 cards of the same suit.
- Straight – 5 cards in order, but have different suits.
- 3 of a Kind – 3 cards of the same rank.
- 2 Pair – 2 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank.
- Pair – 2 cards of the same rank.
With video poker, after you put your money in and press the buttons, the machine does the rest. You’ll have to decide after the deal which cards to hold and which to discard. After you make the decision, the machine compares your hand to the pay table and lets you know if you have won.
While popular, video poker is not always the best game to play if you want to make a lot of money. But, for ease of play and universal familiarity, it is definitely a game that attracts beginners.
5- Slot Machines
No casino patron, whether new or experienced, can resist the urge to spin the slots at least once. And why not? Slots are quite simple to play.
When you play a slot machine, the goal is to match up like characters or icons, usually fruit or numbers.
Most slot machines have 3 or 5 reels, although occasionally you will see more. The more reels on the machine, the more paylines they are likely to have.
A payline is the imaginary line that the machine uses to determine if your icons match. The standard paylines are straight or diagonal, but machines with a lot of paylines have unique patterns as created by the manufacturer of the machine. All paylines are marked on the machine so you can see how they determine the winner.
It is important to note that while there may be multiple paylines available on a machine, you must choose to bet on that payline to win. Most machines have a “Max Bet” button to ensure all lines are included, but be aware, for machines that have 20 paylines, for example, you are betting the same amount on each one. It can be an expensive proposition.
Much like video poker, slot machines may be easy to use, but you may go home with a lighter wallet.
If you have played poker with friends at home, then poker at a casino might be a good fit for you. In a casino setting, poker is generally played in a separate room and they may have dozens of different variations for you to play.
Among the more common poker variants, Texas Hold ‘Em is the most common to find in a casino.
In Texas Hold ‘Em, each player is dealt 2 cards, face down. You can look at the cards you are dealt and place your first bet of fold based on what you have.
The dealer then deals 3 community cards out in the center of the table face-up. This is known as “the flop”. You can use these 3 cards in combination with the 2 cards you are were dealt initially to make your hand. This starts the 2nd round of betting.
The dealer then deals “the turn” which is the 4th card face up for all players to use. Another round of betting follows.
The final community card is dealt. This is known as “the river”. A final round of betting follows the river and a winner is determined based on the highest combination of the initial deal and the community cards.
Other types of poker variations you may find at a casino include Omaha, 5 card draw, 5 card stud, 7 card stud, Chinese poker and many more. It is best to learn these variations before you play. There are many resources on the internet, such as YouTube videos where you can learn and watch actual gameplay.
Baccarat is a game that seems intimidating at first, but as you play, you can see it’s quite easy. While in most games you are betting on your own hand, in baccarat, this is not necessarily the case. You have 3 outcomes in which to bet:
- The Banker’s hand
- The Player’s hand
- A Tie
One of the harder mindsets to understand is that the hands dealt are called the player and the banker, but these names are just that, names. The banker is not really the casino and the player is not really you.
In Baccarat, each card has a specific value. The cards 2 to 9 are worth face value. 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings have a value of 0. An ace is worth 1 point. The hand that wins is the one closest to 9.
The possibility exists for you to get more than a total of 9. But unlike another game we discussed earlier, blackjack, a hand that exceeds 9 does not lose. In these cases, only the last number of the total is used. For example, if you have a 7 and a 9, that totals 16. The 1 from the 16 is dropped and the card hand total is 6.
This is another game that is best to research a bit before playing. And remember, along with online resources, casino dealers are there to help you, so going during a slow time is a great way to get some extra help.
The first trip to a casino should be fun. Take in the sites and attractions and try your hand at winning some money.
As a newbie to the casino scene, don’t walk in with the mindset you are going to walk out a millionaire (unless you are a millionaire already). Because in all likelihood, you will leave with less money than you started with. But that happens on any vacation.
It is important to remember that casinos are part of the hospitality industry. They are there to help you. Whether it is the dealer that helps you understand the game, the waitress that brings you the complimentary drinks or the concierge that helps you find your way around or gets you tickets to that great concert later in the evening, they are all there to help. (But keep in mind, asking a dealer for help understanding a game and asking advice on a hand are 2 different things. You should never ask a dealer for advice on how to play a hand.) And if they don’t know the answers, they will find the person who does, so ask. (But keep in mind, asking a dealer for help understanding a game and asking advice on a hand are 2 different things. You should never ask a dealer for advice on how to play a hand.)
And don’t forget to tip the dealers that are helpful, even if you are losing. They generally don’t make much and work long hours, so rewarding them for great service is only right.