Everyone’s doing it. Walk the floor of a rammin’ jammin’ casino and you’ll see throngs of people pulling handles, throwing dice, and playing cards. They’re laughing, yelling, and acting like they’re about to own a piece of the joint. It looks like fun.
In fact, it looks like something you’d probably like to try. There’s just one tiny little hang-up: You get a raging case of the cold-sweat wobblies every time you even think about joining in. Well, don’t worry, that’s natural. These games are scary. Almost all beginners are intimidated by the live table games at first. It’s not that they’re afraid of losing money, they’re worried about making mistakes and looking foolish. That explains the popularity of slot machines, which are much less threatening to play.
Fear of embarrassment is a powerful deterrent. My first experience was about as traumatic as they come. I began studying the mathematics of card counting as a junior in high school when I was given my first book on blackjack. That meant I had five years to study, practice, and think about gambling before I actually walked up to my first blackjack game–in the old Marina casino in Las Vegas. Could I count cards? You bet I could. I could count cards like crazy–speed drills against a stopwatch, accuracy against a computer, dry runs with friends dealing to me at the kitchen table. But I’d never done it in a live situation with real money, real players, and most importantly, a real dealer.
As I approached my first table, I suddenly felt that awful twinge of anxiety that lets you know that you’re about to embarrass yourself. I no longer wanted to step up to that table, but I wasn’t about to wimp out, either. I put a twenty on the layout and the dealer gave me chips. I’d watched the game long enough to know how to place a bet, and I pushed two dollars into the ligaz888 circle. So far, so good. What came next, though, was a blur. Count the cards? Fat chance. The dealer was delivering them so fast, I was confused before the second one got to me. Then, horror of horrors, it was time for me to play my hand. The dealer was pointing at me. The other players were looking at me. Even if I could remember whether I was supposed to hit or stand, I didn’t know how to convey it. Next thing I knew the dealer was scooping up my cards and money. And I barely had time to take a breath, when–here came the cards again.
By about the tenth hand, though, I’d gotten into the swing of things.
Since then I’ve logged hundreds of thousands of hands and seen an army’s worth of beginners make just about every crazy goof-up that a novice can make. Some of the most common mistakes are avoidable simply by knowing about them beforehand. I’ll alert you to a few of them here, in an effort to keep you out of harm’s way, and protected from a first-time experience that in any way resembles mine.
Keep this rule of thumb in mind: The easier it is to play, the more you can expect to pay. Mechanical games like slot machines pose only a minor threat to your ego, but a major one to your wallet. You can knock down the casino edge by playing table games, but you’ll have to expend a little effort to prepare.
Gambling Online: Should you play?
Here are three questions you should ask yourself first:
Can you pay off the credit card deposits each and every month?
If not, Don’t Play.
Will you keep good records of deposits and withdrawals?
If not, Don’t Play.
Do you think you may have a gambling problem or addiction?
If so, Don’t Play.
My own experiences playing online have been almost entirely favorable. The few transactions where I experienced problems were frustrating, and somewhat time consuming. But, they were fortunately rare. I keep records of all my transactions so that I can easily follow-up on any errors. I’ve made a decent profit by taking advantage of the generous bonus offers. And, surprisingly to me, I found playing online to be a lot of fun. This year, I played more hours online than I did in land-based casinos, although my average bet size is a lot lower online. I expect to be a regular at some of my favorite sites for many years to come. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Disclaimer: This site is supported by advertising from online casinos, so…
Why have I just spent this time telling you the good and bad side of online gambling? I think this industry is going to continue to grow, and I think its reputation will improve as the better casinos gain market share by treating their players well. If and when you do decide to play, I’d like you to consider this site to be a source of accurate and relevant information about gambling online. And, hopefully you’ll choose one of my ads to take you to a casino. Even then, if you follow my blackjack strategy advice, my advertisers are unlikely to make much money from you as a player. That’s fine with me. I’d rather provide accurate helpful advice and recommend reputable casinos here than make money by duping players into foolish strategies at questionable sites.
Best of luck at the tables.