Casino etiquette 101

Casino etiquette 101

One of the things we – the CasinoPlay crew – most appreciate about online casinos and online gambling is that we don’t need to impress anyone when we want to sit down and play our favourite casino games.

We don’t need to get all dressed up. We don’t need to watch our behaviour around other gamblers. In fact, unless we decide to ply Live Dealer games, we really don’t need to do anything that may be socially frowned upon! We can sit in our undies, a bowl of Cheese Curls resting on our bellies, a 5-day growth of beard on our faces (or on our legs as some of the ladies in our crew have admitted to doing during this lockdown debacle – with pride I might add, you go girls!), and blasting our favourite tjoons in the background as we hit up our chosen games.

And yet, we still miss going out and rubbing shoulders (in a metaphorical sense – social distancing is real people) with other gamblers in our local land-based casinos. South African gamblers know that we have some of the biggest and best casinos in the world, filled with games of chance and more entertainment, eating, theatre, music, drinking, and dancing options than you can throw a poker chip at. And we are looking forward to experiencing it all as soon as this damn pandemic is under control.

But dragging ourselves out of our comfortable (if somewhat messy right now) domiciles comes with a worry that we have forgotten our social skills and social cues. Freedom may just be overwhelming and as we emerge into a new world, like a feral child raised by wolves sneaking into an unsuspecting village, or a post-apocalyptic surviving heading out of our nuclear-proofed bunker to face an uncertain future, we need to remind ourselves of just how we need to act and behave in a casino environment.

There are written rules and unwritten rules. Don’t be a cheat is a written rule. Don’t be a dick is an unwritten rule but just as important, if not more so. We are mingling with others who want to enjoy themselves, who want to relax and unwind and focus on their games and strategies.

We aren’t expected to wear tuxedos and ball gowns (even in places like Monte Carlo) but we should make an effort to get out of our dressing gowns and slippers. Different casinos have different dress codes. Some allow you in wearing shorts and takkies. Some insist you dress a little more formal in slacks or jeans and close-toed shoes. And, if you want to be seen as a high roller and get into the really VVVVIP areas, you may need to really smarten up your outfit.

Whatever the dress code, make sure you dress appropriately. It’s not just about how you look, but how you feel. Dressing like a winner can have a subtle effect on your mental outlook as well.

And we don’t think Lady Luck is really into speedos and Crocs!

Treat your dealer and the other guests and players in the casino with respect, it goes a long way to creating a good vibe for your visit. Nobody enjoys having a loud, boorish, rude, obnoxious player at the table or sitting at a slot next to them.

Tipping the dealer, thanking the dealer, not screaming in rage if the cards don’t go your way, not causing a scene if you lose… it’s an unspoken rule that should be obvious but if some of the behaviour we’ve seen out there is anything to go by, maybe we need a little reminder of how to treat other people.

There is nothing more frustrating than a player who doesn’t know what they’re doing. It throws off other players, it’s annoying, and it can result in some not-so-pleasant interactions if your play begins affecting other players’ winnings.

You don’t need to be a pro or have decades of experience under your belt, but you do need to know the basics when it comes to rules and gameplay. And when it comes to the equipment, like knowing what chips are worth what amount, what the different buttons on the slot do, etc.

Part of knowing the rules includes knowing the language of the game. You don’t have to know the difference between the flop, the turn, and the river but you do need to know what an ante, a call, and a raise mean.

A lot of gambling games have a very unique language associated with them and the pros sound like they’re speaking in tongues. You don’t need to sound like an extra in an old Western to play poker but there are phrases and words that you must be familiar with, and this extends across all casino games.

Learn the terminology so you don’t look like a fool when you want to play.

And, to add to the rules and language, you really should know the unspoken language of casinos. Blackjack is a great example. Tapping the table, waving a hand over the cards, raising one finger or two fingers, these all have very specific meaning at the blackjack table and tell the dealer how you want to bet.

Doing it at the wrong time could mean you lose the hand. Doing it right will show the other players that you know what you’re doing and will make them feel more comfortable playing at the table with you.

Never hand money to the dealer. Always put it on the table for the dealer to pick up. This is to show the pit bosses and the cameras exactly what is happening when it comes to buying more chips and tipping your dealer.

The same is true of your chips. Try to keep your fiddling to as little as possible. It makes the bosses suspicious when a player keeps moving the chips around and will attract unnecessary attention to your table.

And, as a general rule, never pick up your cards. Never touch the cards in blackjack, and try to limit your contact with the poker cards to lifting the corners. Picking up cards can lead to a pit boss assuming you are trying to cheat or swap cards so just avoid it at all possible.

Casinos and casino games are meant to be enjoyed for their thrills and excitement. So try not to get caught up in a winning/losing mindset. You’re meant to be having fun.

Gambling is a sport and a hobby not a job. You work to make money; you gamble to have fun.

It’s the most frequently abused rule of gambling: getting caught up in the excitement and overindulging in the liquor. There’s a reason why casinos will often comp you free drinks: alcohol impairs your judgement and makes you engage in risky and rash behaviour.

Keep a clear head so you are always in control of your game.

The less said about drugs and gambling, the better.

Play your own game. Asking the dealer or the other players for their advice is unprofessional at best and downright dangerous at worst.

Casinos may look on it as cheating because, by revealing what you have or what you should do with what you have, you are giving the other players an unfair advantage.

And don’t talk about your strategies at the table either.

We do have a focus on online casinos and online casino games but our columns and guides are the perfect place to get the basics of the games and the ins-and-outs of the industry so please spend some time having a look at what our experts recommend and what our pros can offer.

Knowledge is power and with our guides and recommendations you can go into your chosen casino comfortable in the knowledge that you know exactly what you are doing.

Play responsibly. Have fun. And may luck favour your games.