The Oklahoma casino gambling scene has gone nuts in the last decade or two. You can find over 130 different casinos in the state, with over 75,000 slot machines. Table games are growing in popularity throughout the state, too, with over 650 table games available.
Recently, in fact, the state legalized dice games and roulette games. Blackjack has been a staple of Oklahoma casinos for quite a while, too.
And if you’re a poker player, there are plenty of live poker tables in the state, too — 200+.
In other words, if you live in or near Oklahoma, you have no shortage of casino gambling to choose from.
But the question is this:
How do you get the most out of Oklahoma casino gambling trips?
This post lists the top ten casino gambling tips that are specific to the needs of people who are going to gamble on casino games in Oklahoma.
Since there are more slot machines than any other kind of game in Oklahoma casinos, most of the advice in this post focuses on gambling machines.
I do have a lot to say about the table games in Oklahoma, too — especially as they relate to the antes that the casinos charge to play.
Let’s get started.
1 – Avoid the Slot Machines If You Can Help It
The house edge for the slot machines in Oklahoma is probably higher than any other game they offer — except maybe keno. States with Native American casinos — states like Oklahoma, in other words — don’t require the casinos to release information about the payback percentages of their machines.
We do know, though, that casinos in Nevada average in the close to 90% payback percentage if they’re in a location other than the Strip. In fact, some of the slot machines at the airport are said to have a payback percentage of 75% or so.
That means the house edge on those games is between 10% and 25%.
If the slot machines in the airport have such low payback percentages in a state where they’re required to report those numbers, doesn’t it makes sense that casinos in a state where they don’t have to report that would have a higher house edge?
I’ve seen at least one post speculate that the payback percentage for these games is between 75% and 85%. I think whoever wrote that post is being too generous.
I’d be surprised if the house edge on any of the slot machines in Oklahoma is lower than 20%.
They just stand to make too much money, and they have an almost hostage audience, since they’re the only game in town for many people.
If you can avoid the slot machines with their lousy odds, you can gamble your money on games where the house edge is more forgiving.
You might even be able to spend some time at the poker table, where you can actually get an edge of your own by playing better than the other players.
2 – Be Careful of the Slots Clubs in the Casinos
I have a friend who hits Choctaw Casino almost every weekend. He only lives 30 minutes away, and he spends at least one of his two days off at the casino each week. He’s a member of the players’ club there, and he told me last week that he was trying to climb to the top of the VIP ladder.
Here’s how the slots club works, by the way.
You get points based on how much money you put into action. If you play slots for $1 per spin at 600 hands per hour, you’ve put $600 into action per hour. Your points are based on that amount of wagering.
Those points get converted into rebates and comps. Those comps improve as you climb the VIP ladder, which you do by wagering more.
But here’s how gambling works.
The more money you put into action, the more money the house wins from you. If you’re playing a game with a 20% house edge, you expect to lose $120 for every $600 you wager.
It costs you money in the form of losses to climb that VIP ladder.
And it costs you far more money in losses than you stand to gain in value from your VIP status, no matter how good their program is.
Yes, you should belong to the slots club, and yes, you should always play with your card inserted.
What you want to avoid is putting money into action you wouldn’t otherwise spend just so that you can get more points on your players’ club card.
3 – Try Playing With the House’s Money
Most gamblers who talk about playing with the house’s money are confused. They think that if they’ve won, the money in front of them is the house’s money. The idea is that you can take your initial stake out of action and only gamble with the winnings that you had in front of you.
There are a couple of things wrong with this line of thinking.
For one thing, any money that’s in front of you at the casino is your money, not the casino’s. Once you’ve won it, that’s your money.
For another thing, many times, you’ll sit down and lose your initial stake and be behind the entire gaming session. In those sessions, it’s literally impossible to play “with the house’s money.”
But what I’m talking about here is literally playing with nothing but the house’s money.
At many — if not most — Oklahoma casinos, the casino will give you a certain amount of free money to play with. The only catch is that you must gamble all of it at least once before cashing out.
This is like signing up for a no-deposit online casino bonus with a 1x wagering requirement. That’s unheard of in an online casino, and for good reason.
But what if you hit every one of Oklahoma’s 135 casinos, and they each gave you an average of $20 in free money to play with?
You then make $20 in wagers, and when you’ve hit the wagering requirement, you quit, regardless of how much money you have in front of you.
Keep in mind that you didn’t have to buy in at all. You’re just using the free money the casino gave you.
Even if you only have $1 left after gambling the $20, that’s ALL profit.
If you average $10 in winnings at each casino, you’ll have over $1,000.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you should gamble with your winnings once you’ve hit your wagering limit. That’s how you lose money.
Just hit your wagering requirement, cash out your free money, and move on.
If you’re a committed low roller, you’ll understand how attractive this strategy is.
4 – Watch Out for the Ante on Those Table Games
Remember how I suggested that the house edge for the slot machines was higher than you should accept from a gambling game?
The house edge on the table games isn’t much better — thanks to the ante that the casinos charge.
In fact, it’s not even really an ante. That’s a term borrowed from poker to describe a forced bet.
The ante on table games like blackjack, craps, and roulette in Oklahoma casinos isn’t a wager. It’s just a fee that they charge you for playing the game. The price varies based on the game, but look at what happens to the house edge of the game.
If you’re playing blackjack for $5 per hand, and the house edge is 1%, your expected loss is $0.05 per hand.
But you’re GUARANTEED a loss of 50 cents per hand on top of that 5 cents, so you’re actually losing (on average) 55 cents per hand.
Since you’re looking at $5 per hand, that’s a house edge of 11%.
You can reduce that by betting more per hand, but it still causes your house edge to skyrocket.
If you bet $10 per hand instead of $5 per hand, you’d expect to lose 10 cents per hand because of the house edge and another 50 cents because of the so-called ante. That’s 60 cents per hand, or 6%.
But be careful, because once your bet gets over a specific amount, the ante goes up, too. For example, if you’re in a casino where the ante is 50 cents per hand up to $100, and then goes up to $1, you’d be a lot better off betting $90 than betting $100 per hand.
5 – You Should Still Tip the Dealer Occasionally
I’ve never understood gamblers in any locale who didn’t want to tip the dealer. After all, these people are working hard for their money. Why wouldn’t you want to help them accomplish their goals in life?
I’ve gambled in Oklahoma casinos and never tipped. I’ve also gambled and tipped generously.
In my experience, tipping generously results in a much better time at the casino than not tipping at all.
You don’t have to give the dealers all your money.
Just place a bet for them occasionally.
6 – Visit the Two Biggest Casinos in Oklahoma (Even If It Means You Have to Travel a Distance)
The WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, is one of the biggest casinos in the world. If you’ve never seen it, you should, just because of the scope of it. It’s enormous, with over half a million square feet of gaming space. They also boast of over 7,000 slot machines in their casino.
That might not sound impressive, but think about this.
You have over 130 casinos in Oklahoma and over 75,000 slot machines.
The WinStar, by itself, accounts for almost 10% of the slot machines in the entire state.
Also, Kirby’s is a great steakhouse. You owe it to yourself to have a meal there.
Choctaw Casino is the second-biggest casino in the state, but it only has 300,000 square foot of gaming space and half as many slot machines as the WinStar. Still, it’s impressive, and depending on where you live, it might be much closer to travel to.
7 – Practice the Games Online Before You Go
Did you know that you can try the casino games at the WinStar Casino online before traveling to the casino?
Their free games site offers you the opportunity to practice their games and get comfortable with them before traveling to the casino in person.
They categorize the playable games as follows:
I should warn you that the games on the site often load slowly, so don’t be too disappointed if you have trouble playing the games there.
You can find plenty of online casinos which offer free, playable games for you to practice on. Many of the online casinos we promote on this site offer free games. You can practice your blackjack game just as easily at one of those sites as you can on the WinStar’s official site.
And you won’t have to deal with the excessive load times.
8 – Try the Poker Rooms
I try to steer my readers toward playing poker as often as possible because I like to credit my readers for having above-average intelligence. The great thing about poker is that if you can play with more skill than the other players at the table, you can play with an advantage.
Think about it this way.
If you’re sitting at a table with ten players who are exactly the same skill level as you, then you’ll eventually lose all your money.
The poker room charges a 5% rake on every hand. Since you’d be losing as much as the other players at the table, you’d be gradually going broke.
If you’re twice as good as the other players at the table, you could expect to profit over time — and in fact, you’d expect to profit enough that the 5% rake wouldn’t cause you to lose money.
In the long run, you’d be facing a positive expectation situation, so you’d be more likely to win.
On top of that, the WinStar hosts a lot of poker tournaments. If you’re a skilled player, you can compete for life-changing jackpots and have a better than average chance of winning them.
From a purely mathematical and expected value standpoint, the poker games at Oklahoma casinos are almost always a better deal than the casino games.
The only thing you have to do is be a better than average player.
9 – Leave Your Debit Card at Home
Everyone thinks that they’re immune to the sights and sounds of the casino, but that reminds me of a principle I learned a few years ago about brainwashing.
Being familiar with the techniques used to brainwash people does NOT make you immune to brainwashing. You can be brainwashed just like anyone else.
I’m not suggesting that the casinos brainwash their patrons, but they do have subtle and effective means of manipulating gamblers into losing more money than they plan for.
One of the ways you can prevent this from happening to you is to only take cash to the casino. Leave your debit card and your checkbook at home.
The casino games at Oklahoma casinos have a mathematical advantage that you can’t beat.
You might come home a winner in the short run once in a while, but you can’t count on that. The best way to avoid losing money to the casino that you didn’t mean to is to only take the cash with you that you can afford to lose.
Even if you only live 15 minutes away, leave the debit card at home.
Driving just those 15 minutes to get your debit card can give you enough time to come back to your senses.
10 – Consider Some of the MANY Other Activities Oklahoma Has to Offer
If you love history, museums, nature, and parks, Oklahoma has much more to offer you than just casino games. You should take advantage of these offerings. I understand that some people only want to visit Oklahoma to gamble, but you should consider broadening your horizons for one reason more than any other.
Since the casinos have a mathematical edge, the more time you spend playing the games, the more money you can plan to lose. Every minute you spend engaged in some activity there besides gambling is money in your pocket.
The best museum in the state to visit is Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum in Oklahoma City. You can visit for as little as $18, and it’s worth every penny.
If you love nature, the most beautiful place to visit is Beavers Bend Resort Park in Broken Bow. It’s far calmer and more serene there than you can imagine. If you’ve spent time at Turner Falls, which is beautiful, you’ll understand that not all the parks in Oklahoma are peaceful.
And those two suggestions barely scratch the surface of what’s available in the state. Check out any legitimate travel guide for more ideas of things you can do to distract yourself from gambling.
Some of the advice for Oklahoma gamblers that I’ve given holds true for gamblers anywhere, but I’ve tried to tailor the advice specifically to people visiting Oklahoma. Some aspects of gambling in the state are different than other places.
For example, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the slot machines in Oklahoma offer the same payout percentages and odds as the slot machines in Vegas. After all, they look exactly the same.
Being aware that the house edge on slots in Las Vegas is much higher is half the battle.
Joining the slots club is a good idea, but don’t overdo it trying to rise in the ranks of the club. Definitely take advantage of the free money the casinos offer people, especially if you’re a committed low roller.
Don’t take your ATM card to the casino. Just take cash that you’re willing to lose. It’s far easier to get sucked into a self-destructive spiral than you might think.
Practice the free games online before playing in person.
And PLEASE don’t forget to give poker (real poker) a chance. You have a much better chance of going home a winner from the poker room than you do anywhere else in the casino.
And don’t forget some of the other sights in the state. The museums and parks in Oklahoma are wonderfully affordable.
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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