An Overview of Casino Etiquette

Many casinos are historic establishments and as such, come with their own set of rules and guidelines. While these will be second nature to regular attendees, for newcomers, they can initially seem daunting. Ensure that your debut in the world of gambling is a resounding success by following this overview of casino etiquette.

1. Don't Drink Too Much

James Bond might knock back martinis at a poker table with debonair nonchalance, but unless you've also got the alcohol tolerance of a fictional super-spy, it's best to pace yourself. While there's a long-standing myth that casino employees will encourage customers to drink and so gamble more recklessly, most reputable establishments prefer customers to stay sober enough to handle the rollercoaster ride of jackpots and losses. Sipping a few cocktails can enhance your experience; but if you're out to down pints, head to a bar instead.

2. Know the Rules

Every player remembers their first time in a casino and should be correspondingly sympathetic towards novices – but a little knowledge goes a long way. While slots are fairly self-explanatory, it's best to avoid the Craps table unless you're confident that you understand the rules of the game. While some players may take pity on a novice and offer help if asked, you shouldn't be reliant on this best-case scenario. If you want to hone your skills before joining a real game, many casinos offer free lessons in the day time. Alternatively, you'll find plenty of online resources offering step-by-step coaching through the more complex games. By the time you sit at the table, you should be prepared to play with the training wheels off.

3. Don't Ask the Dealer for Advice

Yes, they work there and yes, they are professionals, but no dealer in the world wants to take responsibility for a player's luck. Consider your request from their perspective: it may sound harmless enough to ask what their recommendation would be with your hand, but if you follow their tip and lose, the dealer has no way to predict whether you'll take it calmly and rationally, or become belligerent. Two notable exceptions are Pai Gow and Pai Gow Poker, in which it's common practice to check in with the dealer on the 'House Way'.

4. Tip

Use your discretion to establish the exact amount, but always tip your dealers, waiting staff and parking attendant. Most of the casino staff will earn minimum wage and rely on tips to bolster their earnings. Be courteous and professional with all the staff and do be generous if you're winning. Even if you're losing, it's not your dealer's fault. If they've made an effort to bolster your mood and improve your experience, the best way to thank them is with a reasonable tip.

5. Put the Tech Away

In a world in which smartphones rarely leave their owners' hands, casinos play by more old-fashioned rules. It's considered extremely disrespectful to be glued to your electronic gadgets when at the table – not to mention that it's likely to have a detrimental effect on your game. Take a brief hiatus from modern technology and keep your focus on the matter at hand; your wallet will thank you for it.

6. Learn the Hand Signals

In Blackjack, it's not enough to know the verbal commands; you'll need to supplement these with hand signals. These are relatively simple but vary depending on whether the cards have been dealt face up or face down. When the cards are face up, you tap the table for 'hit' and wave your hand over the table for 'stick'. For 'double', place your matching bet next to your original bet and hold up one finger; for 'split' use the same action with two fingers. If the cards are face down, use your cards to scrape the table for 'hit' and slide your cards underneath your bet (with one hand) for 'stick'. Laying your cards face up on the table and placing an additional bet next to your original one indicates 'double'; placing the bet next to one of the cards instead indicates 'split'.

7. Be Gracious in Defeat

While it's perfectly reasonable to feel hard done by after a heavy loss or run of bad luck, it's also an inevitable part of life as a gambler. Accusations of a rigged game or cheating dealer are extremely unlikely to be accurate, and no amount of grumbling will alter the result. Even non-verbal reactions such as throwing away the cards or storming away from the table will show you up as a bad loser and unwelcome guest at the casino. Thank and tip the dealer, excuse yourself from the table, and burn up your frustration on a long walk instead.

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