The Psychology of Casinos

The Psychology of CasinosCasinos want your money, but more than that—they want your time, because time is money.

People walk away with casino winnings all the time, but the thing is, for every person who walks out with $1000 in their pocket, another twenty people lose $100 . . . so the casino is always profiting enough to cushion its winners, as long as people keep coming. That’s why casinos are designed to make people want to be in them. Most offer free drinks, and if you join the players club, you can work up to free merchandise, free meals, free hotel rooms, and even free trips to sister casinos.

Next time you visit a casino, look at the walls. Not only will they probably be painted a dark color—likely a dark red—you’ll notice they won’t have something: clocks. Time literally is money where casinos are concerned. The walls are dark and there are no clocks in order to keep the place feeling the same inside no matter what time it is.

As for the walls? Red makes people hungry—so those dark red walls might be having more of a psychological effect on you than you think. The same goes for those “royal” red velvet floors and red-seated tables and booths.

In order to keep players happy, fed, and appropriately hydrated and/or boozed up, casinos usually offer free drinks and sometimes free food. If they don’t offer free food, there will be a restaurant. It’s much easier to get players to come back if they only have to walk a few feet to the restaurant rather than leave and come back.

Casinos tend to play pepped-up music, keeping players’ hearts pounding and their hands moving. Slower music lulls people, and casinos want players to have as much energy as possible. The longer they stay awake, the less likely they are to want to leave.

Even things you would probably consider downers are part of the casino trance, like “almost” winning. Getting two cherries on a slot machine. Putting a quarter in those construction machines and watching it almost knock the next level down. Being one card from winning a hand. Those “almosts” entice players to keep going and are proven to energize people.

More than having people just in the casino, though, casinos have to convince players to play. Some card tables will advertise for new players only, or will advertise low betting rates and low risk in order to convince shy, possibly inexperienced players to join in. Machine games are much easier—slot machines often rely on familiar TV shows, movies, franchises, and designs in order to bring players in. The Wheel of Fortune game is common and popular because it’s a well-known TV show. Slot machines in every casino tend to be made the same way, with the same stakes, and they’re familiar to players.

The layout of casinos can also be part of their overall psychology. When you’re on a gaming floor, it often devolves into a twisting labyrinth of machines. Tables will be toward the back, and you have to walk between slots to get there. Slots and other machine games will be scattered, sometimes seemingly at random—the trick is to get you to walk past more when you’re trying to leave or trying to find another machine.

Bars will be situated well in view, and so will the restaurant. Often the cash office will be well in view, too, and is often the brightest-lit part of the casino—so you can see how everyone else is getting winnings counted out to them.

Never fear, though! Simply knowing some of a casino’s tricks can lessen their effect on you. Other ways to keep your wits about you: wear a watch or keep an eye on your phone. Set a time you want to leave, and, more importantly, set an amount to spend.

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Notable Casino Restaurants

Notable Casino RestaurantsCasinos aim to keep their players satisfied (if not exactly rich). In order to keep people playing for longer, nearly all casinos have some sort of restaurant, whether it’s small-fare dining that serves bags of popcorn and bowls of pretzels or high-end cuisine.

Some casinos have partnered with well-known chefs to provide a gourmet dining experience to their customers, while others stick with the standard buffet. If you want to eat fine and play at the same time, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best casinos to do both to your heart’s content.

José Andrés’s China Poblano is one of several high-end restaurants in Las Vegas’s The Cosmopolitan. His Chinese-Mexican fusion offers tapas (small) dishes, served warm and hearty over a wood-fire grill. The Cosmo also houses David Myers’s Comme Ça.

Atlantic City’s Borgata offers just what you’d expect: gourmet seafood. Michael Mina’s Seablue restaurant has an enormous menu chock full of fresh seafood along with entrees like the Springer Mountain Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich and duck sausage ravioli.

While most of the larger casinos in the United States over three to five restaurants, usually on different floors of the casino, there are some casinos around the world that are veritable shopping malls . . . made entirely of high-class restaurants. Macau’s Casino Lisboa offers 18 different restaurants, adding Michelin stars to its already impressive pedigree.

Also in Macau is the Starworld Hotel and Casino, which, while not as impressive as Lisboa, still has 10 bars and restaurants, including another Michelin star earner.

The U.S. has its share of multi-restaurant beauty casinos, too. Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut boasts a huge selection of restaurants—check out their website and you’ll have the choice of “gourmet,” “casual,” “quick service,” “festival buffet,” and an entirely different section for drinks.

Like most other casinos already mentioned on this list, Foxwoods’ gourmet restaurants are owned by well-known chefs and add an extra element to the casino as a whole.

Though everything mentioned so far has been gourmet, it’s hard to blame people for not wanting to spent $30-$60 per person on a meal, or to blame them for not wanting to have a sit-down that may last more than an hour. That’s where Vegas’s famous crowd-pleaser comes in.

Buffets. Casinos—and strip clubs—around the world are known for having buffets for patrons to snack on. It’s simpler for casinos, whose goal is ultimately to keep players there as long as possible. One-price, all-day buffets are the cheapest and easiest way to do so. But buffets aren’t always full of greasy “Chinese” food and day-old, grease-dripping pizza.

In fact, Las Vegas has some pretty nice ones.

Making the list for a second time, the Cosmopolitan hosts the Wicked Spoon, which is Chinese food, but served with stylish takeout boxes alongside premier wine selections and cuts of steak.

Main Street Station offers a slightly less pricey option. Their Garden Court Buffet features a wide range of cuisine, including Mexican, Southwestern, straight-up pizza, and rotisserie chickens. They offer champagne brunches for overnighters and hotel guests as well as prime cuts of meat that vary day to day—all for an average of $11 per person.

In the end, though, keep in mind that it may be cheaper to eat outside the casino. High-end restaurants are nice, but prices in all casino restaurants are likely to be higher simply because people will choose it for the convenience. Stopping somewhere else before coming in will stave off the cravings that would make you turn to casino fare, and setting a time to leave to get food will get you out the door with (hopefully) some money left in your pocket.

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Popular Slot Machines

Popular Slot MachinesBeginner gamblers or occasional casino visitors often flock to slot machines. Why? Primarily because they’re easy to play. If you’re new to a local casino or you’re an inexperienced player, joining in on a high-stakes poker game or even a lower-stakes craps game can be intimidating, so plenty of players stick to the slots, which usually don’t require any special knowledge or skills and which are (compared to table games) fairly cheap to play.

With the advent and growing popularity of online gaming, online slots are also becoming a fast and accessible way for novice gamblers—or anyone who enjoys the slots—to play, sometimes with site-produced currency like points and sometimes with real-world currency.

In order to compete with physical gambling, lots of online gambling platforms have virtual versions of popular slot machines, so some slot machines included on this list will be virtual.

According to Sun International, the most popular slot machines are Roulette Bet Stacking, Triple Stars, Triple Lucky 7s, and Diamond Eyes.

Roulette Bet Stacking works the same way real-life roulette does—players bet on a number or a range of numbers, and where the “ball falls” is based on a randomized computer system. Roulette Bet Stacking is listed as one of the most popular real-life casino games, and it’s also the most popular online slots game.

Triple Stars is the game most players are probably familiar with—it’s the standard three-window slot machine, where each spin gets a player a turning of each of the wheels. Match up the lucky stars, and you win! Players can also match any three sevens, any two numbers, and so on.

Triple Lucky Sevens is close to Triple Stars. The goal is to match, based on a randomized spin, three of the same.

You’ll see variations of these two games at every casino you walk into—different games may have different pictures or items to match up, as well as different amounts to win, but these games are familiar and easy to play, and they draw inexperienced and pro players alike to them. Each casino determines what the jackpot on the machine will be and if multiple machines are hooked into one jackpot, but according to various gaming sites, the codes that spin the wheels are almost always the same—entirely random. You can’t “rig” a slot machine, and no slot machine is any luckier than the others.

Where the Triples games are about half and half when it comes to having screens or actual spinning wheels, Diamond Eyes is entirely digital. Players still “spin,” but there are five rows of randomized letters, numbers, characters, and, of course, diamonds, and these are played in rounds.

The goal is obvious—get all five diamonds across and you win the jackpot. The odds against that are huge, but, like Triples games, it’s not too hard to spin and match up two or three of the rows.

Real-life slot machines are designed to be appealing to a wide range of gamers, but online slots are allowed the freedom of being a little more specific. Online slot machines are built from code, not physical materials, so anyone who’s handy with code and has an in at an Internet gaming platform can build their own slot machine, and often slot machines are created to cater entirely to a specific group of people or a specific interest.

Getminted.com is a popular online slots platform that invites players to try their hand at hundreds of different virtual slot machines. Like a real-life casino, Getminted offers a VIP club, and they boast having some popular, standard casino slots as well as some targeted online slots. Getminted, and many other online platforms, have games like Cluedo, Wheel of Fortune, and Monopoly, but they also have specialized games.

Gambling.com lists the top 11 most popular online slot games, and among them is Thunderstruck, a game based on Norse mythology, Incredible Hulk, based on the Marvel character, X-Men, based on the Marvel franchise, Iron Man 2, based on the Marvel film, and Lord of the Rings Slots, based on the films.

Online gambling’s flexibility to follow trends no doubt contributes to its popularity. While players love old, familiar standbys, building new slots with the operational basis of our favorites is a lucrative way to bring in a crowd of players who may be looking for something more unique in their experience.

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Playing Bingo in Casinos

Playing Bingo in CasinosWhen most people think of casinos, they think of bright lights, high-energy music, a well-stocked bar, and the cheerful clink of slot machines. And they’d be right! Most casinos are high-energy, with instant-gratification slot machines, arcade-style games like Wheel of Fortune, and table games that require an intense level of concentration to play. Most casinos serve alcohol, and most have either buffets or restaurants inside, so people will be drinking and eating as they’re playing, adding to the noise level.

But when someone says “casino,” do you think of bingo? Bingo has been largely relegated to an “old person game,” where people assume it’s played in retirement homes and senior centers for WalMart gift cards or free meal tickets. Don’t let the stereotype fool you—not only is retirement home bingo fiercer than you’d think, bingo is regularly offered at casinos!

Bingo halls don’t all operate the exact same way, but the structure of bingo is fairly uniform: you have cards and you have markers. Numbers are selected at random, and the first person to fill their card is the winner. Casinos play much same way, and often not for much higher stakes than community bingo.

There are some general, universal rules for playing bingo that should be adhered to in a casino, no matter how much alcohol you’ve consumed:

Do not try to alter your bingo card.
It may seem tempting, and it also may seem tempting to mark that one last number you need and convince the floor walker that it was called, but it won’t work. Floor walkers and callers are meticulous about their jobs, and they don’t hand winnings out to anyone who says they think they won. Cards are carefully checked over, and cheaters are prosecuted the same way they’d be prosecuted if they were found tooling a slot machine.

Don’t be rowdy.
Most of the time, bingo games rely on players being able to hear a caller shout out numbers. Nowadays, electronic bingo is becoming more and more popular, so callers aren’t needed and the games is entirely technology-based (including, sometimes, ways to hook up multiple groups of players from interconnected casinos around the country), but it’s still polite to be quiet. Bingo tends to be a quieter game, and is usually set apart from the rest of the gaming floor for a reason.

Local players usually have regular or “lucky” chairs, and if you’re a new player or a player who’s not from the area, you might be asked to move. Don’t put up a fuss—if there’s a squabble, the casino will likely side with the regular, local player, and you might be asked to leave the casino entirely.

Don’t call false bingos.
An accident once will happen, but double-check your calls and definitely don’t do it just for the fun of things. Multiple false bingos will get you thrown out of the hall and potentially the casino; disruptive players often aren’t welcome back.

Prizes for bingo are usually cash, with amounts ranging from $10 to several hundred dollars, depending on the number of players, how many players will be permitted, and if there is a cost for cards. Some casinos may offer various other prizes, like merchandise or gift certificates to the casino, in lieu of cash prizes, but cash prizes are by far the most common.

Prizes can be offered at flat rates or in a progressive pool, where the sliding scale of how much the prize is worth goes up by a certain amount depending on card sales. Some states require caps on bingo prize amounts, so prize amounts may go stagnant if the cap is reached.

Going to a bingo room in a casino can be a way to cool down from high-stakes bidding. It’s a low-energy way to win a few extra bucks—or maybe a bigger jackpot—and you may be surprised at just how many casinos offer it.

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Casino Destinations

Casino DestinationsVisiting casinos can be as simple as driving a few miles around town or as complicated as flying to some of the world’s largest tourist casinos in countries around the world. When most people think of a destination vacation where the destination is dropping some cash (and maybe winning some) in luxurious, large casino-hotels, they think Las Vegas.

But some other cities around the world have established themselves as the places to be when it comes to hardcore gambling fanatics and casual vacationers alike.

Las Vegas, the most popular casino destination in the United States, has built itself and its entire economy around the entertainment and gambling industry. Visitors to Vegas can enjoy any one of its many casinos, cruise the famous Strip, attend one of the frequent concerts, performances, or strip shows, enjoy restaurants that cater to every taste preference, and visit some of Vegas’s historical sites. Its complicated history provides for some amazing touring through the past, so once you’ve exhausted yourself at the poker tables, be sure to check out its museums.

Aruba, in the Caribbean, is an island with many resorts and casinos. Aruba’s official website notes that every major resort has its own casino, so no matter where you want to stay on the island, you’ll be within easy access of a gambler’s dream gaming floor. Because the tourist industry is so prevalent in Aruba, most casinos take US coinage and paper money, so participating in table games and playing slots is easy for American customers.

If you’re planning an Aruba gaming vacation, be sure to check out stud poker, a game that is very popular in Aruba’s casinos. It should be noted that Aruba casino players must be 18-plus, and most casinos do require I.D.

New Jersey is also a popular intra-continental US destination. Atlantic City boasts 24-hour gaming, including huge gaming floors, tables, and slots. It’s perhaps most famous because it’s played host to some of the biggest poker tournaments in the country, hosted by several of AC’s prominent casinos.

The most famous of these is probably The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, which prides itself on its high-limit tables and gaming machines. Like Las Vegas, AC hosts a Borgata casino. It also has a Trump casino—and a beach!

Gambling legend casino Monte Carlo, located in titular city Monte-Carlo, is a casino with a history even longer than Las Vegas’s. With nearly 700 years built into its foundations, the Monte Carlo casino is all marble, art, and high ceilings—and it features some of the world’s most sophisticated and expansive gaming floors. Like Las Vegas, Monte-Carlo focuses on entertainment in the arts as well as gambling, and while you’re visiting, you can tour local art galleries, visit nearby French villages, bask on Larvotto Beach, or see one of the many performances that are usually running in the city.

Another far-from-the-US destination is Macau, China, which focuses entirely on catering to its huge, bustling nightlife economy. Gambling tourism serves as Macau’s biggest source of revenue, and the city caters to tourists who want a rich gambling experience and are willing to pay for it. Most of Macau’s bars, stores, and casinos are open 24 hours a day, making it, literally, a city that never sleeps.

Not only does Macau feature table gaming and gambling floors like floors found in most other casinos, it has a large and busy sports betting industry, and also facilitates greyhound racing. One of the few types of gambling Macau does not allow is online gambling, but this doesn’t take away from Macau’s intrinsic value—it is long-established and remains one of the most-visited nightlife destinations in the world.

Before you choose your gambling vacation destination, take your other needs into consideration. If you’re looking for a quieter time, Monte-Carlo might be a better choice. If you’re looking for some of the world’s best alcohol and a mix of 50s-style diners and sleek, modern attractions, Las Vegas is your lady. Living the young nightlife? Hit up Macau. Regardless of what your vacation intention is, one of these cities—or one of many others—will suit your needs.

Honorable mentions:
Puerto Rico, Caribbean
Reno, Nevada, US
Tunica, Mississippi, US

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Cheating in Casinos

Cheating in CasinosIt’s a fairly standard movie scene: cue in on an expansive, red-carpeted gaming floor, the cheerful cheeping of slot machines, the rattle of pool balls, the clinking of glasses . . . It’s another day in one of Vegas’s top casinos, and the casino manager is cruising the floor, looking for sharks. Suddenly he stops, zeroes in on a player, and moves toward him to pull him away from the table. The player was cheating, and he’s been caught.

In the early days of casinos, when many of them were run by mobsters, it wasn’t uncommon for cheaters in casinos to, well . . . never be heard from again. Nowadays, thankfully, you’ll probably be heading for the courthouse instead of a tar pit.

Cheating in casinos used to be more dangerous, but it also used to be easier. Today, casinos employ high-tech camera systems and employ swathes of people who know how to spot a card shark. Dealers, security, and the managers are all watching players—and if you’re winning just a little too much, they might ask you what’s been going on.

It’s virtually impossible to cheat at slot machines. Machines are based on random outcomes and are extremely hard to fiddle with, especially in the middle of a crowded, hot, and dark gaming floor where all eyes are on the people behaving strangely. Likewise, something like roulette is impossible to cheat on, since the dealer is the one who manipulates all the parts of the game.

Cheating—or attempted cheating—is much more likely to happen at a card table. Again, saying “cheating in a casino” brings to mind old gangster movies where people pointed pistols at each other under the table and threatened to finish them off if they didn’t take the cards out of their sleeves. Today, cheating is usually low-tech and sometimes seemingly innocuous.

If you’re thinking of trying to cheat by paying off a dealer . . . don’t. Just don’t. Dealers are professional, and they never forget that the casino cameras are on them 24/7. Put that $100 back and bet like an honest person or they’ll turn you over to casino management. Or, you know, they might already be on their way to turn you in.

One of the top ways people cheat is by swapping out chips. Someone who wins a bet may try to switch out small-denomination poker chips for larger ones in order to try to win more, and vice-versa—someone who loses a bet may try to make it look like they actually bet less than they did. This is the only viable way to cheat at a roulette table, and roulette dealers watch for it.

Card counting requires a high level of skill. It’s easier for those who are able to do complicated math, but laypeople without experience will probably find it impossible to manage. Card counting is a cheating method meant for blackjack where a player keeps track of all the cards in play in order to try to determine if the next hand to come out will give advantage to the player or to the dealer.

There are devices that have been invented to simulate card counting, but these devices have been universally banned from casinos. If you bring one in, you’ll be banned, too.

Higher-tech methods of cheating include cameras in sleeves and in pockets, with partners telling the player information through an earpiece. Again, dealers are trained to look out for people acting oddly, so waving every card in front of your specific camera spot will attract attention unless you’re skilled.

This may seem obvious, but the bottom line with cheating is don’t do it. Punishment if you’re caught depends on the casino and the state the casino is in. Most casinos are not willing to simply let you go, so at easiest your case will be turned over to higher management. You’ll be banned from the casino, without a doubt, and you may be subject to fines. You’ll likely also be asked to turn over all your winnings from that night, as they are all suspect now. Casinos may also involve the law, which can result in heavy fines and jail time.

Ocean’s Eleven isn’t nearly as fun when you get caught.

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Winnings

WinningsWhether or not they hit the jackpot, many casino winners walk out with a little money in their pocket—and sometimes it’s even from winnings! Knowing about winnings etiquette and taxing procedures (for USA residents) can save you and your friendly neighborhood casino employees plenty of headaches, so brush up on the information provided below.

Collecting winnings
You can collect winnings at any time during your visit. Most players prefer to collect at the end to avoid temptation to spend the winnings, but some collect periodically. Winnings from gaming tables will be collected at the table, but winnings from slot machines will usually be printed out on small tickets, which will list the amount.

When you’re ready to collect, you can head to one of the casino’s tellers. Tellers will be behind glass. Slip your receipt(s) when indicated, and wait until the teller is completely finished counting out money before taking it. If you take money while the teller is counting it, not only will you have an extremely annoyed teller on your hands, but they’ll probably ask for what you took back so they can re-count it.

It’s considered good etiquette not to count your winnings once you’ve received them—not in front of anyone, but especially not in front of the teller. A teller’s job is to be accurate; they aren’t going to short you, and treating them like they will is going to get you on their short list of obnoxious guests faster than almost anything else.

Taxing winnings (for USA residents)
Winnings over a certain amount are taxed. The cutoff amount in the United States is $1,200 at a slot machine or bingo game and $5,000 on poker tournaments. If you cross this threshold, you’ll be asked to provide your social security number in order to report the winnings to the IRS.

Any amount below the threshold will be tax-free. Amounts that cross the threshold are not taxed on a sliding scale at the federal level, so you’ll be taxed the same percentage on $1,500,000 as you would be on $1,500.

Casinos will often take up to ¼ of your winnings for the IRS before paying you, and will require you to fill out IRS forms before giving you the rest.

Table games that are not poker are usually exempt from taxation—so if you’re playing craps or roulette, don’t worry about winning more than $5,000. You won’t be taxed either way.

When you’re taxed for gambling winnings, you will be taxed on the federal and state level. States have their own unique and intricate ways of taxing gambling money. Some take a flat rate, others use a sliding sale. Keep in mind that if you are on a Native American reservation and are playing in one of their casinos, you will still have to fill out IRS forms and pay state taxes on those winnings.

It’s best to check out your state’s policies before you go to a casino. Like ticking off tellers, arguing with casino officials about having to pay taxes is one of the top ways to annoy higher-ups and get you kicked out of and/or barred from a casino. If you win big, you have to pay taxes—them’s the breaks.

Taxation on out-of-country or online winnings

Out-of-country winnings and online winnings are not required to be reported to the IRS, regardless of amount. You’re expected to report all your income, but out-of-country winnings aren’t American jurisdiction, and online casinos are new enough that legislation has yet to catch up with how to tax winnings, especially if the casinos’ servers are out-of-country.

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Top Casinos

Top CasinosWhen most people hear “casino,” they automatically think Las Vegas. With more than 120 casinos, Vegas is a central fixture in the industry, but there are hundreds of thousands of casinos all over the world, and some of the most luxurious aren’t in Vegas—or in the United States. Here’s a look at a few of the world’s most popular casinos!

The Venetian Macao (Macau, China) The Macao boasts a 546,000 square foot campus, more than 3,000 gaming machines, more than 850 gaming tables, and more than 20 diverse restaurants and bars. The Venetian contains a luxurious hotel with royale suites as large as 775 square feet, and it is billed as a resort as well. Out of 3370 traveler reviews on TripAdvisor, the Venetian has a 4.5/5 star rating.

The MGM Grand Casino (Las Vegas, USA)

While not all the world’s top casinos are in Vegas, it’s hard to deny that the Nevada city has some of the most beautiful and largest casinos available. The MGM Grand is just one of those. Located in one of the world’s biggest hotels, the Grand has a gaming floor of more than 171,000 square feet. It offers more than 2,500 different machines and has more than 130 gaming tables. The Grand is also known for having huge payouts on machines—some payouts range as big as $500,000.

Casino de Monte Carlo (Monaco)

The Casino de Monte Carlo is unusual in that it does not allow domestic revenue—no citizens of Monaco are permitted to play in the casino. Because it is limited strictly to foreigners, primarily tourists, the Monte Carlo is a source of income for Monaco. It’s owned by Société des bains de mer de Monaco, a company in which the government of Monaco has stakes. This casino is featured several times in the James Bond franchise.

The Grand Lisboa (Macau, China)

The tallest building in Macau, the Lisboa opened in 2007 and quickly became one of the most-visited hotels in Macau. It has 58 floors, more than 800 gaming tables, and more than 1,000 slot machines. Nowadays, the Lisboa is known for its poker tables—it was the first casino in Macao to hold Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments.

Foxwoods Resort Casino (Connecticut, USA)

Located in the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, the Foxwoods Resort Casino has more than 4.5 million square feet of game space. With a variety of table games that span more than 370 tables and more than 6,300 slot machines, Foxwoods is one of the largest casinos in the Eastern United States—and one of the few to feature gaming floors that specifically allow children and teenagers.

There are, of course, other casinos worth mentioning that did not make our list—Las Vegas’s Rio, Bellagio, and Venetian, as well as Macau’s Wynn. Many of these, like the casinos listed, feature hotels as well as gaming floors, and continue to be some of the most-visited tourist attractions around the world.

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How to Play Poker

How to Play PokerPoker is one of the most popular card games, and by far one of the most popular table games in casinos across the world. Experienced poker players can compete in tournaments worth thousands of dollars, and casual player.

rs hook up from every corner of the Internet for online games, which can be played for free, with virtual bets, or with real-world money.

The best way to learn to play poker is to watch someone who is proficient play—but understanding the basics before you attend a game can help you better keep track of what’s going on in the game and will help you learn to play more quickly.

Poker is played with a standard 52-card, four-suite deck. The aces are played in the game, and can be played either “high” or “low.” Jokers can be played, but only when they are being used to complete a straight or flush hand, or when they are acting as an ace. The best five cards in each hand are used to determine the winner of the game.

Learning the highest-ranking hands in poker is essential to being able to play.

The hands, from weakest to strongest, are thus:

●    High Card: a hand that has no other combination, and is valued by its most valuable card
●    Pair: two cards of the same number value
●    Two Pair: two separate pairs of the same number value
●    Three of a Kind: three cards of the same number value
●    Straight: five cards in a sequence that are not of the same suit
●    Flush: any five cards of the same suit that are not in sequence
●    Full House: three of a kind + a pair
●    Four of a Kind: four cards of the same value
●    Straight Flush: a five-card sequence of the same suit
●    Royal Flush: the ace, king, queen, jack, and 10, all of the same suit—the best possible hand

Poker players bet with chips—your ante is your bet, and in order to stay in the game, players match and one-up one another with amounts. (This is where the expression “up the ante” comes from!)

Once your cards are dealt to you—face-down—take a look at them while everyone else looks at theirs. You have to be able to judge how strong your hand is, and what you need to make it stronger. All that talk about tells and poker faces isn’t just for fun, either—other, more experienced players will be watching the rookies to see if they’re excited or disappointed by their hand. The quickest way to out yourself as a new player is to show what you’ve got on your face, so keep it to yourself—and don’t flash your cards around.

After cards are dealt, players will begin making bets, and rounds of cards will be dealt as people up the amount in the pot. Don’t be afraid to fold. Dropping out when you know you’ll lose money isn’t backing down—it’s being smart. Watch other players to see if they have any tells, and pay attention to whether or not your hand has decent odds of winning against other players’.

At the end of each round, players expose their hands, and whoever has the most valuable hand takes the whole pot. If there’s a tie, the pot is split between the two winners.

Attending a few games before you start to play yourself is a great way to familiarize yourself not only with how the game is played, but how local casinos and local players work. Many casinos have regular players, and getting to know fellow, more experienced players in the area can be to your benefit. Don’t be afraid to admit you’re a newbie—just be respectful and come willing to learn.

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The Cost of a Casino Visit—and How to Make it Hurt Less

The Cost of a Casino Visit—and How to Make it Hurt Less

The Cost of a Casino Visit—and How to Make it Hurt LessThere’s no two ways around it: if you don’t prepare for a casino visit, you can end up losing a lot of money. Preparing properly and keeping a hold on your finances and on your spending during your visit can save you money and heartache, so before you decide to visit, make sure you do a little prep work.

First, plan exactly how much money you’re allowing yourself to spend. There really isn’t an “average” amount for “normal” customers. People from all walks of life and from all financial levels go to casinos. Some spend $100, some spend $20, some spend $4000, and some spend hundreds of thousands without blinking. Set your own limit, and be sure you’re being
realistic.

Your spending limit should be how much you can lose. Nothing else. Don’t go into the casino trying to anticipate how much you’re going to win, and don’t go banking on what you think you can do with your money—double it, triple it, whatever. Go in expecting to lose all of it, and you’ll either be right or (often) you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Set this limit, withdraw the amount from your bank account, and leave your cards at home. Casinos have conveniently placed ATMs all over in order to better allow people to get more cash and spend more money, so do your best to remove any temptation from the situation. Even if you have great self-control, it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of betting.

When you go to the casino, scope a little bit. See what games seem to be paying better, and if you plan well enough, you can do research ahead of time to see what games offer the best odds for you. Go for these games to stretch your money further.

Casinos don’t like it when you loiter and don’t play, so if you’re not planning on spending much or you’re just there to watch your buddies play, order a drink or play a couple slots. Slot machines are a good way to get more out of your money, and they’ll keep casino employees from being unhappy with you. Some casinos will give you drinks if you’re playing consistently, and it’s considered appropriate to tip for them—between $2 and $5 is normal.

Taking these expenses into account is necessary. Aside from your bankroll of bettable money, keep in mind how much you expect to spend on drinks and on tipping.

Doing your research before you go to the casino is vital, but it’s not just research about odds and what games you think you’d do best playing. Research which casinos will be better for your skill level. Some casinos cater to high-rollers and expert players, and if you’re an amateur, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. Get used to smaller, more local casinos with less people of extreme skill, and you’ll be able to place smaller bets, get to know
some of the staff, and learn the ins and outs of what you like to play, how you like to play, and what gets you the best return for your money.

Winning isn’t the goal for plenty of casino-goers. Having some fun and dropping a little money is the usual modus operandi—but you should be prepared if you do win. Large jackpots —usually over $1,999—will require you to sign tax paperwork, and you will have to pay taxes on those winnings. The sweetness of hitting the jackpot may not be diminished, but still be prepared to be able and willing to fill these forms out. Don’t put up a fuss about it, or the casino will simply take that as refusal to sign the paperwork, which will mean refusal of the winnings.

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