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Table Games! They’re Not as Difficult as You Might Think
Casinos can be a fun destination to plan your vacation around, or even provide a fun break in your week as a small adventure. No matter what brings you there, most casual casino-goers stick to the slot machines. Why? Tabletop games can be intimidating, and the casual casino patron may believe the games to be more difficult than they actually are.
If you are planning a visit to a casino, and want to venture past the sea of slot machines, here is a rundown of the most popular table games, as well as some lingo and table etiquette to keep in mind during your first time.
And remember! Casinos are there for YOUR entertainment. The dealers and crew members at the table are there to help, as well as to ensure that the game goes smoothly. They want to encourage you to play, and it never hurts to ask questions!
Craps is the most objectively intimidating table game on the floor. The first time I set foot in a casino, my dad gave me the low-down on the etiquette and superstitions that are heavily prevalent at the craps table, and honestly, I was afraid to even stand 5 feet away in fear of ruining someone’s streak.
The game may seem difficult and fast-paced, which may discourage new players. But even pros had to start somewhere, and going into your first game with a bit of knowledge about the game can make all the difference.
The game involves a shooter, those betting on the shooter, and those betting against the shooter. Those betting on the shooter will place their bets on the “pass line.” Those betting against will place their bets on the “don’t pass line.” For reference as I talk about the actual game play, Google a picture of a craps table so you can familiarize yourself with the layout and what each section means.
The shooter picks two dice from a bunch, and places their bet on the pass/don’t pass line. Following that, the other players place their own bets on the pass/don’t pass line. Again, placing a bet on the pass line means that you are betting on the shooter’s roll, and the don’t pass line means that you are betting against it.
After bets are placed, the shooter rolls their dice. The first roll is referred to as the come out roll. This is where the game can start to seem a little bit hectic. If the roll is a 7 or 11, the pass wins. If the come out is a 2, 3, or 12, it is referred to as ‘craps’ and the don’t pass wins.
If the come out is 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10, that number becomes the ‘point’. The object now is to bet on whether or not you think a 7 will be rolled before the point. If the shooter rolls the point before they roll a 7, the shooter and everyone on the pass wins. If a 7 is rolled before the point is rolled, the don’t Pass wins.
There is much more to this game play, but those are the basics, and hopefully will encourage you to jump in on a game the next time you are at a casino.
Of all the gambling superstitions, the ones surrounding the craps table are probably the most closely followed and believed. Whether you are a superstitious gambler, or you are just a little stitious, keep these in mind when walking up to the craps table. As always, be mindful and respectful of these superstitions during game play.
- “It” – No, craps players are not referring to the Stephen King novel when they say they don’t want “it” to show. Saying the number 7 at the craps table is considered extremely unlucky. Some players will even refer to the number 7 as “the devil.”
- Don’t touch the shooter when they are on a streak or after a good roll.
- The dice should not touch anyone else’s hands on a roll.
- Again, be mindful of where your hands are. Some tables’ crews will remind players of this before a roll, shouting “watch your hands.”
And remember, with any game you play, be humble about your wins and losses. No one likes a gloater or a whiner.
The gameplay of roulette is easy, but be aware that depending on where you are in the world, the rules and lingo might vary slightly. I will be explaining the game in terms of the North American roulette rules.
The game is based on the bets that you make. Here are the most common:
- Straight up – Placing a bet on a single number
- Two-number split – Betting on two numbers
- Street bet – Betting on three numbers
- Square bet – Betting on four numbers
- Five numbers – Betting on five numbers
- Line bet – Betting on six numbers
- Dozen bet – Betting on the first twelve, middle twelve or last twelve numbers
- Even/Odd bet – Betting that the number will be even or odd
- High/Low bet – Betting on either the first or last 18 numbers
- Red/Black bet – Betting on the color of the number, and not a specific number
After a bet is placed, the wheel is spun, and the player either collects or pays.
Something to remember in roulette especially, is that previous outcomes do not determine future ones. If there are three spins of red numbers, it doesn’t mean that the next will definitely be red or definitely be black.
That being said, there are obviously bets that will give you greater odds of winning. For instance, a line bet will give you greater odds than a straight up bet. Just because your odds are greater, doesn’t mean that you are definitely going to win on your numbers, only that your odds are better.
The human brain has a tendency to find patterns in groups of data, even if those patterns don’t really exist. Roulette is a game of chance and luck, and it’s important to remember that each roll is separate from the roll before, and is not in any way an influence to any rolls after. Don’t get caught up in the Gambler’s Fallacy!
Also known as ‘21’, blackjack is a relatively straight-forward card game that you may have played before, and it is strongly based in luck of the draw.
Cards are given values, 2-10 being worth their face value, Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10, and Aces can be used as either 1 or 11.
The first thing to do is use your chips to place your bet. Most tables will have a minimum and maximum bet, so be aware of what those bets are before you sit down. After bets are placed, the dealer gives each player two cards, and deals two cards to himself.
The aim of the game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer does, without going over, which is sometimes referred to as “busting.”
For those who have never played, your cards will be dealt face down, but the dealer’s are face up.
If you, say, get a 3 and a 2 on your first deal, you can say “hit” on your turn and the dealer will give you another card to add to your current total. When you are happy with your hand, you can stay or stand, which means that you will not receive any new cards.
You can double down, or double your original bet, and you will receive one more card after doing so. That double bet is in place regardless of your new total with the new card. Some casinos only allow you to double down if your first hand totaled 10 or 11, so be aware of your casino’s rules on this. After you announce your double down, you may be required to flip your cards before you receive the next one.
You can also split your hand if the first two cards you are dealt are the same. If you split, you can place the same bet as your original, and split your hand to two separate hands. If you are dealt, for example, a pair of 6’s on your first hand, you can place another bet of equal amount to your first, and continue playing with two separate hands. If one of your two hands busts, you can continue to play with the other.
Poker is one of the quintessential table games that you may find on a casino floor. Some casinos even have a separate room that contains only poker tables, so be aware that you may need to do some looking around if that is the game that you have chosen to play.
After you take a seat at your chosen table, feel free to let the dealer know that this is your first time playing. Again, they are there to facilitate a smooth and comfortable experience for all of the patrons, and will help you get the hang of how it all works.
Having said that, be sure to have some concept of how the game works before sitting down. The dealers may nudge you along, but it’s important to be informed before you start playing to ensure that the game goes as smoothly as possible for the other players at your table.
Because there are a few different types of poker, make sure you know which type you want to play before walking up. The most popular types are Texas hold‘em, Seven or Five Card Stud, and Omaha.
As with any game, do a little research on the basic rules of your chosen poker type, maybe practice a hand or two at home, and know that any trepidation you may feel about taking your interest in the game to a casino is all in your head! The game is exactly the same as what you may have played at home, the only differences are the bets and the setting.
Regardless of the game, a perception of difficulty comes from not knowing anything about how the game works. Armed with even a little bit of knowledge, you may find yourself more apt to jump in and try things for yourself. If you want something straightforward with high stakes, start with roulette. If you’re ready to challenge yourself, try your luck at the blackjack table.
Remember, these are GAMES. They are there for fun and entertainment, with the possibility of padding your pockets a little, and if you want to learn something, don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back.
The first game of poker that I ever played (without actual monetary bets, of course) was when I was 12 or 13 at a family friend’s house during a summer barbecue. A group of high school boys taught me the rules of Texas hold‘em, and after a few rounds of observation, I won on my very first hand.
Spontaneity and the willingness to open yourself up to new experiences make life fun!