Gambling is a fun, and sometimes profitable, activity, but it can also be intimidating for newcomers. The fear of losing and the prospect of winning big are tangled together in an indecisive mass—and if you go to a casino, the auditory and visual onslaught of bells, whistles, and lights certainly won’t help. Fortunately, we have come up with seven lucky tips new gamblers can follow to stay smart and come out on top.
Top Tips for Beginner Gamblers
1. Make a Budget and Stick to It
No matter how frequently you intend to gamble, don’t go in without knowing what you’re willing to spend. If your betting budget is on a “per-week” or “per-month” basis, break it down further into a “per-visit” setup. When establishing your bankroll, keep in mind how much you’re willing to lose and what you want to get out of your gambling. A bigger bankroll means you can play longer, bet larger, and potentially win more, while a smaller one will minimize losses, but won’t let you play for as long.
Further, set aside part of your budget for individual games. This doesn’t mean you need to divvy up every dollar, but it will help to establish some limits on, say, how much you’re willing to bet on an individual hand of cards or roll of the dice. A good rule of thumb is to never bet more than half of what you’re willing to lose. If your loss tolerance is $100.00 for instance, then don’t bet more than $50.00 at a time.
The importance of keeping track of your wins and losses can’t be understated, either, and is an integral part of any gambling budget. Always know how much you’ve lost, and won, and record your rates across multiple sessions. You may finish today with an extra $50.00, but that won’t mean much if you were out $75.00 the week before.
2. Establish Win and Loss Tolerances
In a casino, the only machine in the player’s odds is the ATM. Losing is inevitable and will be frequent. The important part is how you manage your losses.
The easiest way to do this is to make your bankroll the limit—and pocket your winnings instead of betting with them. If you go in with $100.00, then stop when you’ve lost $100.00 and leave with your leftover winnings. However, a win limit is important as well. One of the hardest things to do in gambling is to stop when you’re on a winning streak, but it’s an important skill for even the occasional gambler. Set yourself a hard limit on winnings, like one-and-a-half or twice your initial bankroll, and then stop once you meet it.
If you want to use your winnings to gamble, establish a system for doing so. One option, for instance, is to add up your pocketed winnings once the initial bankroll is gone. If you’ve won more than you’ve spent but wish to continue playing, only spend half of the difference. For example, let’s say your bankroll is $100.00. If after spending your bankroll you discover that you’ve won $130.00 and want to keep going, use $15.00 for your new bankroll. That way you’ll always be able to walk away a little over!
3. Know the Game
Don’t enter into a game “blind”—you need to know more than just the rules and a handful of terminology. Every game has different odds and a house edge—the house’s profit margin on a given type of bet. Look at the main bet of a game. The pass line bet at craps, or the ante in three-card poker, usually have the lowest house edge and therefore the best odds for the player. Games also come with bonus bets that have a significantly higher edge and, therefore, much worse odds for the player.
Do some research into what you want to play beforehand. It doesn’t need to be extensive research—you’re trying to have fun, not write an essay after all! But have an understanding of the rules of the game, and the safest ways to bet, before you begin.
4. Take Breaks and Watch the Time
Casinos lack clocks and windows as a way to keep players from realizing how long they’ve been gambling. Use your phone or watch to keep track of the time and be sure to take regular breaks. Get away from the noise and lights of the casino floor and stretch your legs, get a drink or snack, and assess your winnings and losses. It’s easy to lose track of time and money when gambling, so regular breaks can help you stay focused.
5. Don’t Drink
Casinos love to offer alcohol, sometimes even for free. While it’s a nice amenity, drinking while gambling has a lot of downsides. First, being buzzed makes it harder to strategize during games, like poker or blackjack. Second, it reduces inhibition and self-control. You may be good at sticking to your budget when sober, but there’s no guarantee you will after a few drinks. It is best to abstain.
6. Get Points
Many casinos, especially larger ones, have a players club or a reward system. Sign up before you start and you can enjoy benefits and freebies as you play. The rewards can range from food to extra money to free hotel stays and show tickets. You likely won’t earn enough for the big-ticket items anytime soon, but there’s no reason not to start accumulating.
7. Find the Right Casino
Casinos vary in size, amenities, games, services, and most importantly, affordability. High-end casinos have a lot to offer, but they ask for a lot in return in the form of higher minimum bets and more high-limit slot machines. You should always be able to bet the amount that you want and are comfortable with. If the casino says you need to go higher, find somewhere else.
Bonus Tip: Have Fun!
A bonus tip for the beginners: a game of chance is still a game, so having fun is important. If gambling is stressing you out or you’re not having fun, step back and reassess. Try a different game, take a break and come back later, or just leave altogether.
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