Wanna bet? There’s nothing like taking part in a live table game during a visit to Las Vegas.
Thanks to Hollywood’s great gambling movies, everyone has romanticized visions of heart-pounding casino action. Remember Charlie Babbitt and his autistic brother Raymond, played by Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman? In “Rain Man,” they win big at the blackjack tables in Caesars Palace. In the cult film “Rounders,” Matt Damon, Edward Norton and John Malkovich make Texas Hold’em and the world of poker look cool in New York City. And in several James Bond flicks, it’s clear that British secret service agent 007 has a fondness not only for the ladies, but also for cards and dice.
Even though you’ve seen games like blackjack, poker and craps played on the big screen, it can feel intimidating to join a live game. If you’d like to wager at the tables in Sin City, it’s best to know the rules beforehand.
Many casinos in Las Vegas offer free gaming lessons. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to take advantage of them. Typically held during slow periods in either the morning or early afternoon, instruction occurs right on the gaming floor. No reservations are necessary. Lessons are approximately 30 minutes long, and it’s a good idea to arrive at least 15 minutes before a class begins.
Instructors make the gaming lessons fun as well as informative. You’ll learn the basics of the most popular casino games along with some winning strategies.
So…before you risk it all at the tables…put the odds more in your favor by attending one of these classes.
• Boulder Station: Thursdays at 3 p.m.
• Excalibur: Daily at 11 a.m.
• Golden Nugget: Daily at 10 a.m.
• Luxor: Daily at 10 a.m.
• Mandalay Bay: Daily at 2 p.m.
• MGM Grand: Daily at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
• Stratosphere: Saturdays and Sundays from 8 – 9 a.m. (on weekdays at the same time if there is a dealer available).
• Aliante Casino + Hotel: Craps daily at 10:30 a.m.
• Circus Circus: Blackjack daily at 10:30 a.m.; roulette daily at 11:30 a.m.; craps daily at 12:30 p.m.
• The D Las Vegas: Roulette daily at 11 a.m.; craps daily at noon.
• Excalibur: Roulette daily at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.; blackjack daily at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; craps daily at 12:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
• Gold Coast: Craps on Fridays – Sundays at 11:30 a.m.
• Golden Nugget: Craps daily at 10 a.m.; Pai Gow daily at 10:30 a.m.; roulette daily at 11:30 a.m.; blackjack daily at noon.
• Luxor: Roulette, craps and blackjack all daily at noon.
• Monte Carlo: Craps daily at 11 a.m.
• New York-New York: Craps daily at 11 a.m.
• The Palazzo and The Venetian: Craps on Mondays – Fridays at 11 a.m.; blackjack on Mondays – Fridays at 11:30 a.m.
• South Point: Craps on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:15 a.m. and Saturdays at 11:15 a.m.
The lessons listed above are subject to change or cancellation at any time. If a casino doesn’t offer free gaming lessons, try playing at a table when the action is slow. If dealers aren’t busy, they’re usually more than happy to help you out.
Another way you can learn to master table games is by using instructional Win Cards. Four casinos in Las Vegas offer them: Circus Circus, Four Queens, Mandalay Bay and Tropicana Las Vegas. Simply register for a players club card at the promotions booth. It’s free and easy to do. Then you can request a Win Card for blackjack, craps or roulette. Each card breaks down your possible options. For example, the blackjack card tells you when you should hit, stand, double down or split. The craps card gives you odds for the Pass and Don’t Pass line, and the roulette card clearly shows you the payoffs for three of the game’s most common bets. By highlighting your basic choices, you won’t feel nervous or confused and can focus on having fun.