Casino Introduction

Vegas - from Unsplash

Vegas – from Unsplash

Similarly to hotels, there are a wide variety of casinos, from lavish and opulent to racinos to run down middle of nowhere places. Within those casinos are a variety of casino games, designed by crafty and intelligent people. These games, both slot machines and tables, are designed to take your money, provide engagement and, and encourage you to continue betting for just one more hand or round. This article will cover the main games seen in most casinos, and help introduce both inexperienced and seasoned casino goers by matching your risk tolerance and bankroll to the game that may fit you the best.


Game Types

The two main game types are split into machines and tables. Machines typically mean slots, but may also include those table games such as poker, blackjack, as well as video craps and roulette, perhaps even played with a live player or dealer! Because they mirror the real game, we will focus on strictly slot machines (with reels, etc.) and the physical table games.

Roulette wheel and bet - courtesy of stux at Pixabay

Roulette wheel and bet – courtesy of stux at Pixabay



Main game types you will see (in US Casinos), include the below. Further posts will delve into the details, variants, and specifics of each game, which this one will provide the decision-making criteria to match player to game.

  • Blackjack – get a score higher than the dealer without going over 21, or letting the dealer draw to more than 21 (busting)
  • Poker – construct the best possible (3 to 5 card) hand with a finite number of cards available communally. Available in Ultimate Texas-Holdem (table game) and regular Texas Hold’em (poker room), as well as Pai Gow, and many other options.
  • Roulette – bet on the random landing of a ball in a set of 38 (or 37, for those in Europe) numbers.
  • Craps – bet on rolling of a dice
  • Other Table Games – Baccarrat, or for the lazy or relaxed: War, High Low
Casino slot machines - courtesy of stokpic at Pixabay

Casino slot machines – courtesy of stokpic at Pixabay



Game makers are continually developing new genres and versions of slot machines, but all of them have a wagering component, payouts, and line bets. Most of the newer machines include customer engagement through decision-making, such as bonus rounds, free play or spins, wilds, and cinematics.


Too Much Information! What’s the best?

The classic answer: it depends! It depends on a several factors that vary in importance from person to person. These factors may even change for the same person depending on their mood, time of the day, casino, or experience. It truly is unique in preference.

Factors to consider include, in no particular order:

  • Risk Tolerance – how comfortable are you potentially losing, would you rather wager small (low tables or slots) or larger amounts (higher minimum tables, max bet slots)?
  • Length of Play – do you want to play big (blackjack, roulette), or make your bankroll last a while (craps, pai gow poker, etc.)?
  • People Engagement – do you enjoy interacting with other players/dealers (poker, craps, blackjack), or prefer quiet solitude (slots, roulette)?
  • Game Engagement – Would you prefer rolling the dice (craps) or touching the cards (pai gow poker, $25+ blackjack), or not?
  • Thought Process – do you want to analyze your decision-making while playing (craps, texas-holdem poker), minimize it (blackjack, roulette maybe?), or remove it altogether (slots)?


For example, my gaming “profile” typically looks like the below:

  • Risk Tolerance – I stay to smaller amounts, typically $5 to $15 a hand, unless I’m feeling crazy.
  • Length of Play – I want my bankroll to last a while, so I seek out lower minimums and games with lower house advantage or churn (such as pai gow)
  • People Engagement – Sometimes I like engaging with others, and usually it is a medium amount.
  • Game Engagement – I prefer touching the cards in pai gow / blackjack, but abhor rolling the dice in Craps (because I can’t see that far across the table)
  • Thought Process – As you may know, I enjoy critical thinking and economic analysis. This is nowhere more prevalent than when gambling.


Other Thoughts

However, I may be a bit of a unique case. I am not sure how many people spent their few months before turning 21 (or 18, in some cases) studying Craps and other games on Wizard of Odds and Wikipedia, or took a college course on the statistics of poker. Regardless, each person has a different take on the various items listed above.

Additionally, there is plenty of economic theory that harps on the notion of risk aversion. Having studied this in university, I would say it especially holds true when gambling (for me). Those who are risk averse gain less utility (units of happiness) from a win, compared to the loss of utility for a comparable loss. They would prefer a guaranteed amount lower than the expected value of the bet. Similarly, a loss of $10 hurts so, so, so much more than the joy of winning $10. I strive to remove emotions from my thought process when gambling, focusing only on numbers and expected value.

Above all, keep a level head, know when to stop, bring only what you expect to lose, and understand and accept that 85-90% of bettors lose while gambling. It makes sense, that the best way is to play for entertainment, and leave when you’re ahead. The house always wins!


Featured Image from Michał Parzuchowski, Unsplash.

What does your gaming profile look like? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments, or reach me directly at! Like my posts? See more here, on TravelUpdate! Follow me on Facebook (The Hotelion) or on Twitter and Instagram@TheHotelion