I remember my first casino trip like it was yesterday, even though it really was more than a quarter-century ago. It was my wife’s idea to take a Las Vegas package deal she’d found while scanning the newspaper travel section.
We received advice from just about everyone we knew. Marcy’s mom told us to try the poker slots, as some people called video poker back then. Her brother urged us to go to Fremont Street and play craps, and he drew out a diagram of how to play the game. It was lost on us.
We stuck mainly to slots and video poker, with a little blackjack and roulette mixed in. Thanks to a memorable day of casino-hopping in which we both won a few dollars playing video poker, we came very close to breaking even on the trip.
Along with a reasonably well-stocked wallet, I came home with the nagging feeling that there was an awful lot about the games I didn’t know. I was sure there would be a next time, and I’d be better prepared.
Over the years, I’ve spoken with a number of people about their first casino experiences. Nearly all have admitted to being a little lost at first. But we keep going back for more.
Joel: “I didn’t always know the games like I do now. Blackjack’s my game, but the first time I went to a casino I went straight for roulette. It seemed easy, just betting on the numbers, but I didn’t really know the odds or anything.
“I remember I had a bet on black and several bets on numbers, and the ball landed in double-zero. I lost all my bets, and so did everybody else. It took me by surprise, and I shouted, ‘What are the odds of THAT?’
“This guy next to me kind of growled, ‘Same as on any other number.’ I froze for a second, and then it hit me. He was right. The odds were exactly the same for double-zero as they would be for 1, 16, 32 or any other number. That’s what inspired me to learn more about the games.”
Sheila: “The first thing I saw when I walked into my first casino was a Big Six wheel. It was love at first sight, with all the money going round and round. It was exciting to me. I thought this was what gambling SHOULD be, even though my friends had talked mostly about the slots and my boyfriend was a craps player.
“Alas, it was a love not built to last. I don’t think I won a bet, and I went through something like $50, betting $5 at a time. I moved on to other games, mostly slots with a little blackjack. Later on I took up Three-Card Poker. But I never played the Big Six again.”
Kenny: “It was my wife’s idea to go to the casino for the first time. She’d played in Reno when she went for a wedding before we met, but I’d never been. My gambling was all poker, mostly with guys from work. The dealer got to pick the game, and one guy used to like to deal blackjack. If I’d known then what I know now, that he was dealing a game that gave him an edge, I’d never have put up with it.
“So we went to play, and my wife went straight for the slot machines. I decided to try blackjack. Man, was I out of my depth. I don’t remember what my cards were, but I stood, and a lady behind the table whispered to a guy, ‘He should have hit, shouldn’t he?’ He told her, ‘Shh.’ I was embarrassed.
“We had a travel guide that had some basics on blackjack, but I hadn’t paid any attention. But I was so embarrassed, I decided if we were ever going to play again, I was at least going to learn some basics first.”
Erin: “I’m just here to have some fun, and maybe win a little if I can, but the first time I played I met a woman who was dead serious.
“I went straight for the slots. In fact, it was probably two years before I played anything but slots. They’re easy. Anyway, this woman was playing a whole row of slots, like six of them. She’d push the button on one, then move down the line to the next, and the next, and so on. When she started the reels on the last one, she came back up to the first and started all over.
“I asked her if that did any good. She said, ‘Honey, it’s how you find the hot machines.’ I went home and asked my dad. He used to work in a casino. He said it’s all nonsense, so I never tried it. One game at a time for me.”
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