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Having a better time at the tables

By John Grochowski


All players have their own approaches to casino visits. The games they play, the sizes of their bankrolls and bets and the strategies they use are all subject to individual tastes and circumstances.

Some of that translates into helpful hints experienced  players can pass along. The tips shared here aren’t the biggest difference-makers in the world. Blackjack players can gain a lot more by learning basic strategy than by following Matt’s tip below. Still, these methods shared by readers can help your day go smoothly.


In a losing blackjack session, leave before you’re down to your last bet. For sure, leave if you don’t have enough to split pairs or double down.

It took a while for that to sink in. I can be pretty stubborn. For a long time, I thought that last $10 was one last opportunity for me to go on a winning streak and rebuild my funds for the day.

What turned the corner for me was when I had two of those sessions within a short time of each other, and they both ended when I lost with a pair of 8s, one against a dealer’s 6 and the other against a 4.

You know and I know those are both hands where I have the edge if I split, but the dealer has an edge if I stand or hit. Not splitting the pairs left me as the underdog when I should have been the favorite, but I didn’t have the cash for the split.

Never again. I always stay within the gambling money  I set for the day, and I never hit the ATM to gamble more. But now I have one more rule. If I don’t have at least twice as much as my bet, I call it a day.


I’m a big guy, and I’m not really comfortable at full blackjack tables. I won’t squeeze myself into the last seat.

So, I look for tables where others are playing, but no more than four. I want a couple of empty seats if I can manage it.

I used to be the guy who was perfectly happy to go to empty tables with dealers standing there just waiting for somebody to play. I think I didn’t fully understand just how fast those tables were and that I was making twice as many bets per hour compared to playing with three or four players.

One day I got a dealer who seemed to think it was her job to take my money as fast as she possibly could. Man, I couldn’t believe how fast she was dealing.  I got caught up in making decisions as fast as she was dealing.

That’s not a fun way to play, and I’m about having a good time. Now I look for those tables with three or four players so I can sit comfortably  AND relax a little over my cards. Fun and comfort, please.


I always rack up my chips so the low denominations are the most exposed. In the rack at craps, the white $1 chips are on the outside. At blackjack, the $5 chips I use for most of my bets are on top, any smaller chips are a separate stack, and the big chips are at the bot toms.

I’ve never had a chip stolen from me. At least I think I haven’t.  But one day at craps, some passer-by bumped into a guy, and after the excuse-me, the player found he had a $100 chip missing. I don’t want to make that easy for some light-fingered creep.


I like roulette. It’s fun, and I like having all the other players around. I like the activity, everyone getting their bets down before the dealer calls time. I don’t really like the video betting screens, just touching the screen in front of you. I want the action of the players reaching around the layout.

Problem: I’m short, only 5-foot-1. Even in heels, I’m not a tall lady. It’s hard for me to reach all the way across the table and up and down the layout.

I’d played a few times and managed the best I could. Then one day was trying to reach across to the 12 and the dealer said, “I can put that down for you. Just tell me where you want it.”

It made all the difference!  I don’t know why I never thought of it myself. Now I place the bets I can reach easily, and ask the dealer to place the bets that would be a stretch. Yay!


Can I put in a word for just being nice to people? It’s better for everyone if we all treat each other with a little respect.

Back when comps were more discretionary, I saw a guy demanding a meal ticket from a floorman. He bellowed out, “Hey floor! Floor!” The dealer said, “His name is Chuck,” but the guy just ignored her. He was rude, snappish, and wasn’t going to get that comp.

People like to be treated like they matter. I like it at the tables when there’s an easy camaraderie between the players and the dealer. Dealers are there to serve the public, sure, but requests rather than demands and smiles instead of shouts seem to go a long way. It makes the game more fun if people aren’t on edge.

Maybe some people thrive on the edge. I don’t know. But I don’t like the tension when the dealers feel like they’re in a combative situation and need to have their guard up.


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