Casino basics – first timer ?

All these casino reviews and posts about the finer points of casino going, and we realised we didn’t have a simple guide to how to get started in a casino for the first timer. Well, let’s get that straightened out.


It can feel a little bit intimidating, wandering into reception for the very first time, but there’s no real need to worry. All that’s really happening is a little bit of nerves in an unfamiliar situation, and while it’s easy to fee like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing and you’re the bumbling idiot, in fact the staff see dozens – if not hundreds – of people every weekend who are in the same boat, and they’re well used to it.




So your first stop is reception, and you’re obviously going to need to get through here to get to the action. Every casino is either going to ask you for ID, or let you walk through without any challenge (assuming you are old enough at 18 plus, and not dressed inappropriately or too squiffy). On that dress code, these days all but the very top end casinos in London will let you in without too much trouble, jeans and T-shirt will be fine, even on a weekend. Best to check the individual review of the casino you’re considering.


From there, your best bet to get comfortable is to head to the bar, and grab a drink. From there you can wander fairly freely about and get used to the goings on. A huge number of people, especially at weekends, won’t even gamble once on a visit to a casino, so don’t fell like you’re under any pressure.


You’ll generally see roulette tables and card tables, with the latter’s most popular games being Blackjack and Three Card Poker. One thing to remember, right before you start, is that you buy chips right there on the table – some first timers go to the cash desk but that’s not how it works. If you need some cash, the casino will have ATMs somewhere or you can get cash directly from your debit card at the cash desk after a little bit of faffing around setting it up.


I’m not going to get into how the games work here, we’ll cover that in future posts, but if you are a real first timer and want to get into the action, lots of people start on Three Card Poker, playing a bet called “Pair Plus”. Once you’ve found the Three Card Poker table, put your money on the table (most dealers won’t take money directly from your hand – it’s a security risk) and they will sort your chips out, usually asking what denominations you want (or more accurately grunting at you). You can see the table minimum on the sign somewhere on or attached to the table, so if for example it’s a £3 minimum table, you’re going to want some £1 chips – ask for “singles”. The bet is really easy to understand, the dealer will help you through it.


TCPThree Card Poker, a good game to get started with. Not as complicated as this pic makes it look, honest!


The reason for picking that bet is that it’s simple, you just place your bet in the box or circle, and your cards are either a winning or losing hand. See the soon to be written guide to the game for a bit more detail. Assuming you either win a pile of chips, or have had enough at some stage, change your chips for high denomination ones (it’s a matter of politeness – if you pinch all the singles, they have to do a “fill” to keep the game running) and then you can either change tables or turn the chips back into cash at the cash desk.


That’s the gaming side in a nutshell, obviously you also have the slots and poker room as well, so have stab at whatever’s your pleasure. Lots of first timers also will give the electronic roulette machines a try, and they really are pretty straightforward and a good way to get used to the game.


One of the great benefits to casino gaming is the staff. You want a drink when you’re at a table ? Flag down a passing valet (or ask your dealer to grab one)and order what you like – alcoholic drinks are always paid for (unless you’re a big player) while most places still do free teas, coffees and soft drinks. If you have any questions, the dealers are generally a mixed bunch in terms of interaction, but the manager or pit boss (generally fairly interchangeable concepts these days – essentially the geezer or woman in a suit looking pensive) will certainly get you straightened out.


That’s about all there is to it, so why not drop into your local site and get a taste of it all.