Prepare for Your First Time at a Casino

Bethany Jones
by Bethany Jones  |  Reviewer and Columnist

first time at a casino

Stepping into a casino for the first time can be as exhilarating as it is overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to navigate through the sea of slot machines, blackjack tables, and that seemingly elusive roulette wheel.

Knowing what to do at a casino, mastering casino rules, and understanding the nuances of casino etiquette aren’t just about making your first time at a casino memorable—they’re about ensuring you don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

First, Set a Budget

One of the most critical strategies for any gambler is to set a fixed budget for gambling activities. Decide on an amount you are comfortable losing before you start playing, and stick to it. This budget should be separate from money reserved for essentials like rent or groceries.

Setting a fixed budget helps prevent the risk of getting in too deep and ensures that your casino experience remains enjoyable.

My strategy is to only bring as much cash as I intend to spend. I say – Leave your bank card in the car; if you get the urge to take out more cash and chase your losses, the walk to the parking lot should give you the time to rethink your decision.

General Rules

First and foremost, always maintain a courteous and respectful demeanor toward your fellow players, dealers, and staff members. Remember, casinos are environments where we go to enjoy ourselves, and your positive attitude keeps good vibes going.

It’s essential to learn the rules of the games before sitting down at a table. This preparation prevents disrupting the game flow and shows respect for other players who are likely wagering real money. If you’re unsure about the rules, consider observing a few games before participating.

Age Requirements

Before you even plan your visit, remember – casinos have a minimum age requirement. This age varies by location; in the United States, it can be either 18 or 21 depending on the state and the type of gambling.

For instance, some tribal casinos allow 18-year-olds, while others, especially in states like Nevada, require you to be at least 21.

Always check the specific requirements of the casino you plan to visit and be prepared to show a valid ID.

Bringing Valid ID

Speaking of IDs, bringing an acceptable form of identification is non-negotiable. Casinos are stringent about verifying the age and identity of their patrons.

Make sure your ID is valid and not expired. Types of acceptable IDs usually include driver’s licenses, passports, and in some cases, military IDs.

If you’re an international visitor, keep in mind that your ID needs to meet the casino’s standards, which can vary. It’s a good idea to have a backup ID just in case there are any issues with your primary one.


From the server who brings you drinks to the cashier who cashes you out when you leave, many of the staff you encounter don’t have the highest hourly pay rate and and looking for a gratuity. Always keep $20 aside to give a tip to those who help you out during your visit.

I aim to tip $1 or $2 when the server refreshes my drink or for every visit to the cashier. If a valet assists me, they get a couple of bucks, too.

In casino etiquette, tipping has one main rule: tip using the same currency you are gambling with. If the table requires manual cash payment, the dealer should be tipped using cash only. You can use the chips as tips if you’re playing a table game.

Remember that the individual with whom you are interacting is an actual person, and your tipping etiquette expresses your appreciation for the good service.

Mobile Phone Rules

Most casinos strictly prohibit the use of mobile phones at game tables. This includes making calls, texting, or using apps, as it can lead to distractions and potentially unfair advantages.

phones at casinos
Always step away from table games if you need to use your phone. You could get into a lot of trouble if people think you’re using it to cheat. Even if you’re only making a call or sending a text, it’s still pretty disruptive and it’s best to wait until you’re no longer gambling.

Usage is generally allowed at slot machines and in poker rooms where you’re not playing against the house.

Drinking in Casinos

When it comes to drinking, it’s not just about legality but about ensuring everyone’s enjoyment and safety. The unwritten rule of drinking in a casino is simply – be respectful and responsible.

When you get overly intoxicated, you may not be as self-aware if you’re disrupting someone else’s nice time. I’ve been to a casino many times where a drunken idiot is flailing about and making everyone around them just a bit annoyed.

Most casinos require staff to be trained in responsible alcohol service. If a server or manager tells you that you’re cut-off, don’t argue. There’s nothing you can say, especially in that specific state of inebriation, that will make them think you’re fit to drink any more alcohol.

How to Dress at a Casino

Casino dress codes have evolved significantly over the centuries. Once upon a time, casino dress codes were quite rigid, with men required to wear suits and ties and women in elegant dresses.

But things have changed and, by the mid-20th century, these requirements relaxed significantly. So, more casual attire is acceptable. For men, this could mean jeans or shorts paired with a collared shirt, while women might opt for a blouse with dress pants or a casual dress.

Remember, clothes should be neat and clean; the torn, beat-up look is definitely out.

As the evening approaches, the dress code tends to shift towards more formal attire. Men should consider switching to slacks or dress pants paired with a button-down shirt or a smart jacket. Women can opt for dresses, skirts, or dress pants paired with an elegant top.

Footwear should also be considered; flip flops are a definite no, while smart shoes or heels are advisable.

Regional Differences in Dress and Behavior

You should pay attention to where you are, as the city you’re visiting may have a specific dress code for casinos. For instance, casinos in Monte Carlo maintain a chic and formal dress code, while those in Las Vegas embrace a more relaxed approach.

It’s wise to err on the side of formality if unsure, especially when visiting prestigious casinos. Or, you can do what I do – look the casino up on Instagram and check out what others are wearing in posts that tag the venue. This should give you a good idea of how to dress.

Bovada Bovada Sportsbook, Casino, and Poker
Get up to a $750 instant cash bonus CLAIM NOW
Ignition Casino
Ignition Casino Ignition Casino Casino and Poker
Get a 150% bonus for poker and casino CLAIM NOW
BetOnline BetOnline Sportsbook, Casino, and Poker
Get a 50% bonus, up to $1,000 free CLAIM NOW

Specific Table Game Etiquette

When you’re hitting the casino tables, it’s all about playing it cool and keeping things smooth. Here’s a quick rundown on how to keep up with the etiquette at different games, so you can look like a seasoned pro and not a total newbie.

First things first, though – for all table games – don’t put your personal belongings anywhere on the table other than any designated cup holders. Keep your phone tucked away, and if you’re enjoying a drink, keep it in your hand or pass it off to a friend.


First up, roulette. Remember, once the dealer says “No more bets,” that’s your cue to step back and let the wheel do its thing. No touching your chips!

And hey, if you’re passing anything to the dealer, like cash or chips, always lay it on the table first. It’s not just polite; it’s the rule.

Also, familiarize yourself with the rules. There are lots of types of bets, and it’s a good idea to have a general idea of how it all works before you sit at the table.

Have you hit a win? Celebrate, sure, but keep it classy—no need for a victory dance.


At the blackjack table, the vibe is a bit more chill, but there are rules. Keep your phone tucked away, and if you’re enjoying a drink, make sure it stays off the table.

When it comes to buying in, wait for the current hand to wrap up before you lay down your cash.

Blackjack is very simple, so you don’t have to do as much research before rocking up.


Just like in the movies, playing Craps can be a hoot, but keep your cool. Bet only when it’s your turn, and never shout out numbers.

If you’re just watching, make sure you’re not crowding the players.

craps casino etiquette
Like Roulette, Craps can be pretty complicated. So, quickly look up the types of bets and rules before you get playing.

How to Buy in to a Table Game

When you’re ready to join a game, it’s best to buy in between hands to avoid disrupting the game. Simply place your cash on the table and ask for chips.

There also the option of buying your chips at the cashier. This saves time and keeps the game flowing for others. In some casinos, you have to buy your chips at the cashier, so it’s best to ask ahead of time to make sure you’re not interrupting the flow of a table game for no reason.

Proper Betting

Once you’ve got your chips, make sure to bet within the game’s flow. Stack your chips neatly in the betting area and avoid touching them once the game starts.

If you need to change up your chips for different denominations, just push your stack forward and politely ask the dealer to “color up” or “change.”Properly placing bets is a fundamental aspect of casino etiquette:

  1. Wait for the Right Moment: Always wait for the current hand or round to finish before placing your bet.
  2. Place Your Bet: Put your cash on the table (never hand it directly to the dealer), and the dealer will exchange it for chips. Place your chips in the betting area.
  3. Hands Off: Once your bet is placed and the game begins, do not touch your chips until the round is over.

Playing Slots For the First Time at a Land-Based Casino

When you’re hitting the slots, remember it’s all about having fun, but let’s keep it smooth for everyone, right? Here are some quick tips to keep things friendly and enjoyable at the casino:

Do’s and Don’ts

  1. Play One Machine During Busy Times: If it’s packed, stick to one slot machine. Look for signs indicating this rule during peak hours—it’s all about sharing the space fairly!
  2. Reserve Your Slot Thoughtfully: Need a quick break? Tip your chair against the machine or leave a small item like a drink to signal you’ll be back. Just keep it short—10 to 15 minutes is cool, but longer breaks might lose your spot.
  3. Keep Your Cool and Your Distance: Avoid hovering around other players waiting for machines. Respect their space and engage in another game until they’re done.
  4. Seats are for Players: If you’re just watching, stand up. Chairs are for those actively playing. It keeps things fair for everyone.
  5. Mind Your Manners with Wins and Losses: Celebrate wins quietly if you’re with a group, and always be polite to those around you, even when luck isn’t on your side.

Cashing Out

Cashing out is straightforward but comes with etiquette. Make sure you tip and, if you’re holding high-value chips, be prepared to explain their origin as casinos monitor these closely.

If it’s a significant amount, a chat with the casino manager might be necessary. This is customary so don’t panic if the cashier calls over a higher-up.

Are Drinks Free?

Generally, the rule is simple: free drinks are available to players actively gambling. This could mean dropping a few bucks into a slot machine or joining a table game.

However, don’t just sit at a slot machine without playing and expect free drinks—casino staff are sharp and can tell if you’re not actively playing.

Why Casinos Offer Free Drinks

Here’s the scoop: casinos provide free drinks not just to be generous, but also because it’s good for their bottom line. Alcohol might make you more relaxed and less cautious with your bets, leading to increased spending at the tables or slot machines.

drinks at casinos
It’s all part of the casino’s plan to boost their profits. Plus, if you’re having a good time with a drink in hand, you’re likely to stay longer, play more, and possibly make riskier bets.

And, Remember – Have Fun!

So, there you have it – your crash course on how not to look like a total newbie at a casino.

Remember, it’s all about being respectful, knowing the rules, and keeping things classy. Whether you’re hitting the slots, trying your luck at the tables, or just enjoying a drink, a little know-how goes a long way.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, tip generously, and most importantly, have fun! After all, that’s what casinos are all about. And who knows, with a bit of luck and a lot of etiquette, you might just walk away a winner.

Leave a Comment