Smarter Gambling

Casino Mistakes That Can Be Costly to Players

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Written by Joshua

I was talking with slot channel Slotaholic during G2E week, and he was talking to me about a filming session where he was attempting to accomplish something, but a series of mistakes had led to it being much more challenging than expected.

And that led me to get thinking about all sorts of mistakes we make as players that can be quite costly – whether directly financially, emotionally, or in terms of future opportunities.

So with that spirit, here’s some mistakes that can be costly to players:

Not Using a Players Card

Not to beat a dead horse (who am I kidding, I will beat this drum as long as this site’s active), but a players card is something you should (almost) always use when you play. The guaranteed comp dollars, the offers, and so forth you get from using a card is part of the overall payback you get for playing at a casino.

It’s important to emphasize you should never play for comps, but if you do play, you should get what the casino’s willing to offer. But that means using that players card.

Not Setting Limits

If you go into a casino with an open-ended mindset, without setting things like a time limit or budget, you could get yourself into trouble if you go on tilt and race to the ATM after a bad run or bad beat.

Gambling can be an emotional experience, both the highs (handpay!) and the lows ($100s without one friggin’ feature?!?). Only you can truly know yourself and your weaknesses, but I’ve seen plenty of people run out of money, walk right over to the ATM, get more money out (or, sometimes, get declined when trying to take more money out) and keep going.

Set a budget and set a time limit – go home with money if you still have it when your time is up. The more and longer you play, the more favorable the outcome is likely for the casino, so set some stop points to ensure you don’t go overboard.

Play While Overtired

If you’re at a casino long enough, staying overnight, on a multi-day trip, it’s easy to get sucked into the lights and the din of a casino and play for a long time. It can become easy to get overtired or drift off mentally, and that can lead to some careless mistakes.

Some games in the casino require you to pay attention, make decisions, or otherwise be of mind. Take breaks, grab a bite to eat, take a nap, or do anything that can help keep you mentally fresh when you play.

Play While Drunk

Decision-making deteriorates while tired, but when drunk it’s like on hyperspeed. So of course casinos offer those free drinks in markets they can, because it can help relax people, but also because they make a careless mistake, or bet bold, or do things they wouldn’t when sober.

A drink here or there isn’t going to make a difference, but when you combine the casino’s increasing odds of winning as you play longer, and the mental acuity deteriorating when you’ve had enough to drink, and that can be a bad combo. It gets even worse if you’re getting tired too.

Not Checking the Slot Machine’s Denomination

It’s increasingly important when you sit down at a machine to check the denomination. I woke up one morning during my recent trip, grabbed breakfast and sat at a machine to play while enjoying my morning iced tea.

It was a game I love to play, Quick Spin, and I thought I would give it some max bet spins. I thought it was $2.50, but I didn’t catch it was a dime denomination and $25 a spin until I hit the button the first time.

I decided to roll with it and do minimum bet (which was still $5/spin), and managed to come out even. Sometimes mistake bets can really pay off! But most of the time it just chips your budget down faster.

More and more casinos are setting up multi-denomination machines, so even if you’re in an area that is pretty faithfully a penny machine, not all machines reset to ask you what denomination you want when you first sit down. So it’s up to you to check and make sure you know what you’re playing.

Not Knowing the Game

Finally, while many slot machines are of the “press button, and you win or not” variety, some aren’t. Video Poker, Blackjack and many carnival games require decisions to be made that usually are better done when you know the best strategy.

So it can be easy to lose money faster than you should when you don’t follow proper Blackjack strategy, for instance, or know how to play the game of video poker you have active on your machine.

This is an easy problem to solve – for many games, there’s a basic strategy that’s fairly easy to learn and remember, and with that you can at least be assured a better chance of success. The casino may retain the edge, but you’ll give them less opportunity to win money for not knowing what you’re doing.

Do you know of other mistakes casino players make that can hurt them? Share in the comments!

About the author


My name is Joshua, and I’m a slot enthusiast who works in tech as a marketer by day, and dabbles in casinos periodically during off-times. Know Your Slots will reflect my interests in understanding the various ways you can play slots, travel, casino promotions and how you can get the most out of your casino visits.

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