For those who have never played a table game before, this section is for you. It will benefit everybody if you know the basics of gambling protocol before you sit down for the first time. Few things are more annoying than a beginner at a table who doesn’t know what to do and has to be told everything several times by the dealer. Before your first time at a table game ask if your casino offers gaming instructions. At specific times of the day many casinos will give a tour of all the major games, explaining the rules and how to play. Some casinos offer a designated table where people can play with play chips to get their feet wet. If none of these options are available, then I would suggest watching a game from behind for a few minutes before sitting down. Notice the procedure and when you sit down try not to disrupt it. Following are some pointers which you can learn now or learn the hard way:
Rules of Casino Etiquette
No matter what age bracket you are in or what casino game is your personal favorite, there are some basic rules of casino etiquette you should follow. While you will not increase the likelihood of winning money during your casino visit if you follow these rules, adhering to them will greatly improve the odds that you and the people around you will have fun while you are on the floor.
Whether you are in a casino for the first time or you have visited every casino in the United States several times over, it is not appropriate to deliberately violate the rules of gambling etiquette. Just as it is with the law, ignorance of the generally accepted code of casino etiquette is not an excuse for misbehaving in a casino environment. Fortunately, following gambling etiquette simply requires you to employ some basic common sense and manners, which means it is generally easy to remain in compliance with both the spoken and unspoken rules of etiquette.
If you inadvertently violate the code of casino etiquette, merely acknowledging your misstep and taking responsibility for it by apologizing is usually enough for others to forgive and forget. Everyone else visiting the casino where you are playing is there to have fun, just like you are, so casino visitors are typically quick to forgive in most circumstances. If you make the conscious choice to violate the rules of casino etiquette, particularly if you do so after repeated warnings, you may dampen the mood of other gamblers, which can negatively impact your level of enjoyment and theirs. If your behavior is too offensive, the property’s staff may require you to leave the casino floor and potentially bar you from returning to the casino.
One of the specific casino etiquette rules you should pay attention to even before you head onto the floor for the first time is to become familiar with the casino’s dress code. If you are dressed inappropriately, a casino can turn you away at the door or ask you to leave the property. What may be inappropriate clothing at one establishment might be acceptable at another. The best way to avoid having to return home or to your room to change is to inquire about a casino’s dress code in advance.
Additional specific rules of gambling etiquette include the following:
- Be Patient: No matter how eager you are to take a seat at a particular table or in front of a certain slot or video poker machine, it is not okay for you to jostle other players or nudge them to the side. Be patient and wait your turn to take a seat at a table or in front of a machine. If you are unsure about the intentions of the people around you, ask them if they are going to take the seat you want and react accordingly by either letting someone else sit down or sitting down yourself if no one else in the vicinity has plans to play.
If you are playing at a table where multiple players have won money, wait patiently for your share of the pot. Dealers pay winning hands in a specific order, so you must refrain from reaching for chips prematurely or demanding payment out of sequence.
- Be Mindful of Other Players: When you are at a gaming table, you have to be mindful of your tablemates. If you are going to have a beverage, use the cup holders at the table to prevent you or another player from spilling your drink and stopping play. If you are going to order food, order something that is non-greasy to avoid staining the cards or making the chips in play feel greasy. If you eat something that leaves a noticeable taste in your mouth, have a mint before you address your tablemates or dealer.
- Leave Your Electronics in Your Room: While you may be tempted to take your cell phone with you, you should avoid using it or any other electronic device while action is taking place at your table. If you have to take a call, step away from the table until your conversation is over.
If you are going to use your smartphone to take pictures in a casino, be sure to ask where it is okay for you to do so before you start. Some casinos do not allow any pictures on the casino floor, whereas others are fine with you taking pictures when you are away from the tables.
- Know the Rules: Whether you are enjoying your inaugural visit to a casino or you are trying a new game for the first time, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of the game before you take a seat at a table. You can learn how to play casino games by playing them with play money online, reading about the games you want to play and studying the rules, taking a casino tour and playing a few games for free or simply watching the action at a table transpire for a while.
While it is obvious that reading about a game is radically different from actually playing it, some new casino visitors mistake playing online as being similar to playing in a brick-and-mortar casino. Although both experiences are designed to be fun, gambling in a casino is drastically different from playing casino games on the Internet.
If you play blackjack online, for instance, you simply have to click a button for your next play to be made electronically. When you play live, you have to use hand motions to inform the dealer about what your next move is going to be. Verbally communicating what you want to do next is insufficient for play to continue. With differences like these in mind, you must be knowledgeable about how to play a game in a live setting instead of a virtual one before you take a seat at a table.
Depending on where you are playing, the casino may hand out cards that provide hints at how to play a certain game better. For example, some establishments give out “cheat sheets” that tell you when it is generally advisable to hit or stand in blackjack, among other pointers. Take advantage of these tools if they are available, even if you are a seasoned grinder.
- Handle Your Cards Properly: If you play card games, how the dealer deals the cards will determine how you should handle them. If the cards are dealt face-up, you should avoid touching them. If the cards are dealt face-down instead, you should only use one hand to handle your cards. You should also avoid leaning back from the table with your cards in your hand to avoid the appearance of impropriety.
- Buy In Between Hands: When you take a seat at a table, wait until the hand, spin or throw of the dice that is ongoing to conclude before you attempt to buy into the game. Attempting to buy into a game while action is occurring may distract the dealer, interrupt the flow of the game and frustrate both your tablemates and croupier. You should also wait for play to come to a halt prior to attempting to cash out for the same reasons.
When you buy into a game, refrain from handing your money to your dealer directly. Lay your money in front of you so that a croupier can count it accurately and easily under the watchful eye of the camera overseeing the play.
- Keep Your Hands to Yourself: It is never okay for you to handle another player’s chips, even if they ask you to. While it is not nearly as offensive as touching another player’s chips, it is inappropriate for you to ask someone else, including your croupier, to watch your chip stack when you need to step away from the table to take a call or use the restroom.
Refrain from touching the chips you bet after you place your wager. Do not add to the chips you have wagered or try to remove any from the stack you bet. If you want to place a wager on a subsequent action in the same round of play, such as doubling down, place the chips you want to bet next to the ones you already have in play.
- Know the Stakes: It is impossible for you to bet properly without knowing the minimum and maximum stakes at your table. If you have to ask about the stakes repeatedly, you run the risk of slowing down the rhythm of play and annoying your tablemates. Know what the stakes are before you sit down to play and bet accordingly throughout your session.
- Maintain Your Composure: Suffering a bad beat is an unfortunate part of gambling, no matter what game you play. If you are busted, maintain your composure at all times. Everyone has been in your position, and they not only do not want to hear you complain about your unlucky fate, they also do not want to be blamed for it. Do not yell at your dealer or other players when you lose, no matter how much money you had in the pot or how close you may have been to taking the pot down. Just as you should not overreact when you lose a big pot, you should not celebrate when someone at your table goes bust, even if the person is not your favorite competitor.
- Avoid Playing Under the Influence: If you are under the influence of alcohol or a prescription medication that affects how you play, you are probably negatively influencing the level of enjoyment that other players at your table are having. Do not drink to excess and avoid taking medication that may impair your thinking or ability to control yourself during your time on the casino floor.
- Refrain From Giving Unsolicited Advice: While it is okay for you to ask your dealer or other players at your table for advice in some instances, it is not okay for you to offer advice that is not specifically requested from you. It is equally unacceptable for you to criticize the way another person played a hand, spin or throw of the dice.
The one exception to this rule sometimes occurs in poker. Since you play against the other people at your table instead of the house in poker, it can sometimes be advantageous for you to attempt to put another player on tilt by suggesting the person may have played a previous hand differently. Unless you are an experienced player or a professional, you should use extreme caution when using this tactic, because you may have to deal with more than just one individual pushing back at you. Your entire table may decide to lash back, particularly if the other person is a regular or popular among your tablemates.
- Tip Your Dealer and Server: One of the most fundamental rules of gambling for beginners is to get in the habit of tipping your dealer and server. You can tip $1.00 — $5.00 every few hands as you play (possibly more depending on the stakes). Alternatively, you can give up to 10 percent of your net winnings to your dealer at the end of a playing session. Even if you lose money overall, you should still tip your dealer based on the level of service the individual provided while you were at his or her table. If you order drinks while you play, you should tip your server a minimum of $1.00 per drink.
- Manage Your Bankroll Appropriately: An even more fundamental rule of gambling for beginners and veterans alike is to manage your bankroll properly. Gambling in a casino is supposed to be an enjoyable experience, not a stressful one. Only wager money you can afford to lose. When you have gone through the money you have budgeted for gambling, find something else to do. Never borrow money to continue gambling unless you are a high roller and have a mutually beneficial arrangement with the casino you are visiting.