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The Tuition for Casino Gambling

5 March 2015

By John Grochowski
Learning to play casino games is strictly an immersion process for most of us. I’d played some no-wagering blackjack as a youngster, and played many a poker game in college and at the homes of friends before I first played in a casino.

But roulette, craps, baccarat, Caribbean Stud and others were games I never played before plunking my chips down in a casino. I think of my losses as tuition.

So it goes for most players. We learn as we play, though sometimes there’s a little help. Here are a few of those learning experiences, relayed by readers:

Brad: I’d heard that baccarat was a good bet, that it was what all the really high rollers were playing because the odds were so good. So I decided to try. It was a $10 mini-bac table, I told the dealer, Kim, I was new, and asked how to bet. She said you just choose either the banker hand or player hand, and bet on one or the other. She also said, “You can bet on ties, too, but that’s a sucker bet.” I don’t know if she’d have told me if there were any other players at the table, but she did. Maybe she had pity for the newbie.

It confused me at first, that she got all the cards and got both hands. I was like, “Shouldn’t I be playing one of those?” But she walked me through it – probably comfortable since we weren’t slowing anybody else down – and explained that drawing cards was all up to a set of rules, that there were no options.

It was all really, really easy. Too easy to be honest. I like to have to make some decisions and feel like I’m part of the game, but this was really just a guessing game. Anyway, I played for about an hour, just about broke even, and gave her a nice tip as a thank you. Since then, it’s not at the top of my list, but I play sometimes, and I’m perfectly comfortable, thanks to Kim.

Davinia: Roulette was a game I wanted to learn. It always looked like fun, but I didn’t really know how to play anything but the slots. So I was pretty happy to see our park district was having a special day of lessons on how to play casino games. They brought in a former casino dealer, and he came with decks of cards and table layouts and a little roulette wheel.

When it came to roulette, he rolled out the layout and got out some chips and showed us where to put the chips to make the bets. He told us how much they all paid, and gave us a printout with all the odds. Then he gave us each some chips – they weren’t worth any real money, this was all for fun and practice. He spun the wheel, we made bets, and he paid off the winners and collected the losers, explaining what he was doing in every step.

It was fun. We all learned how it worked, and didn’t need to learn any expensive lessons by betting real money. When I played it in the casino, I knew just what to expect.

Clara: Three Card Poker, I just sat down and played. The dealer explained a little about how to make the bets, and after a while another player told the strategy of betting with Queen-6-4 or higher. I was an old pro in no time.

Look for John Grochowski at, on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at


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John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago, with podcasts at Look for John Grochowski on Facebook ( and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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