How to Look Like a Pro at the Casino Table

min read
Casino chips and cards on a blackjack table.
BetMGM Mar 16, 2023, 12:26 PM

Are you a gambling novice and have you been asked by a friend to join them at a casino? Or do you usually enjoy online casino games but have decided to try out a brick-and-mortar establishment? Either way, you’ll want to avoid any mistakes at the tables and confidently carry yourself like a pro. Find out how to do this with our tips and advice.

Understand the basics of each game

The surest way to look like an amateur is to try playing at a table when you don’t know what you’re doing. If you want to look like a pro at casino table games, it’s a good idea to read up on the rules of each game. If you’re a complete novice, the basics are relatively easy to understand for the majority of casino table games, even if they do get more complex as you learn all of their ins and outs. If you really want to impress, many casinos offer lessons. This is especially helpful if you’re a visual or hands-on learner and want to get a real feel for a game. 

Another great way to get comfortable with the rules is to play live dealer games at an online casino. This way you can experience playing against other players and interacting with a real-life dealer who is also ready to help you learn the basics of the game they are hosting.

Take your blackjack, poker, craps and baccarat knowledge to the next level

Understanding a game’s odds, along with some additional quick tips from the pros, can help you make better decisions and get as much out of your bankroll as possible. Here are the odds and a few casino tips and tricks for some popular gambling table games for newer players.

Blackjack

A blackjack win means your cards have added up as closely as possible to 21 without exceeding that number and you’ve had a better hand than the dealer. It also has some of the best odds of any casino games, with a house edge of only about 2%.

Quick blackjack tip

When playing blackjack at a casino, particularly if you’re a beginner, pick a table with the least number of decks and try these betting tips. Double your bet (you’ll be allowed just one more card) on 10 or 11 when the dealer shows 2 to 9. Stand on 13 to 16 if the dealer shows 2 to 6 and hit (request another card) when you’re on 12 to 16 and the dealer shows 7 or higher.

Poker

Poker is a game where the odds vary from hand to hand, depending on what cards you have, how many opponents you face, what street it is and many other variables. This means that you either need an odds calculator or a great deal of experience to get good at the game. Thankfully you can easily learn the poker basics by playing at an online poker table. Many pros, including World Series of Poker winner Chris Moneymaker, have earned their stripes playing online. Trying your hand at live casino online games can give you a taste of different poker variants, including the ever-popular Texas Hold’em poker, in a casino-like setting.

Quick poker tip

Looking for professional poker tips? One quick tip you can take advantage of is pot odds. If you’ve played online poker you’ll know that the pot odds are the ratio between the pot and the bet. So, if the starting pot is $10 and a player bets $5, the pot increases to $15 and a player faces a $5 bet. 

With the pot odds at 15:5, the practice is to simplify the equation by dividing both the 15 and the 5 by 5 which gives you pot odds of 3:1. You can then convert the odds into percentages by adding both sides of the equation (the 3 and 1) to get 4, then divide 100% by four and you’ll get four equal parts of 25%. Lastly, you’ll multiply both sides of the 3:1 ratio by 25% to get a 75%:25% ratio. 

In other words, if your opponent bets half of the pot, you’ll need to have the best hand at least 25% of the time to make a profitable call. Of course, this doesn’t take into account other developments in the game and you will find, unless you’re a math whizz, that the more you try to forecast what will happen later in the hand, the more complicated the numbers get.

Craps

On the surface, craps is undoubtedly one of the easiest games to understand. Players roll a pair of dice across a craps table to try and get a certain combination of numbers. The two most popular bets are the Pass line bet and Don’t pass bet. These two bets offer the following odds:

  • Pass line bet: 49.29% of winning, 50.71% chance of a loss, meaning the house edge is 1.41%
  • Don’t pass bet: 47.93% chance of winning, 2.78% chance to push, 49.29% chance of a loss, meaning the house edge is 1.36%

The odds on the other craps bets can go as low as 2.78%, so be sure to learn the odds for each of these bets before you make any bets.

Quick crap tip

Most pros will tell you that the best craps strategy relies on bets that minimize the house edge and give players the best odds of landing. If you had to choose only one bet, make it the pass line bet. This starting bet for all craps games has one of the lowest house edges (1.41%) and the highest odds of landing (251 to 244) with pay-out odds of 1:1.

Baccarat

Casino favorite baccarat is a good place to get the hang of betting because there are only three possible results from each hand and you won’t need any skill to play, just an understanding of the basic rules. The odds for each of each bet are:

  • Banker wins: 45.8%
  • Player wins: 44.6%
  • Tie: 9.6%

Quick baccarat tip

To play the cards like a pro, bet on the banker. The house edge is 1.06%, which means that if you place a hundred bets of $1 each, your average loss would be about a dollar. When betting on the player’s hand, the house edge is only slightly less than the banker’s hand at 1.24%.

Manage your money

Pros know how to manage their money, so practice smarts and self-control at the tables to avoid looking like an emotional newbie. Here are some general as well as bankroll betting tips:

  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Bet only what you can afford to lose.
  • Avoid the temptation of heading for the ATM machines unless you’re after change for a snack.
  • Never drink while gambling.
  • Limit your playing time with regular breaks in between to keep you on your toes.

Figure out the hand gestures

You’ll find that most casino games have a language of their own, but you will need to understand the hand signals to avoid the amateur label.

For example, when playing blackjack, you’ll tap the table for “hit” when the cards are face up and wave your hand over the table for “stick.” To indicate “double,” you’ll put your matching bet next to your original bet and hold up a finger. For “split” you’ll make the same gesture but hold up two fingers.

If the cards are face down, you’ll scrape the table with your cards for “hit” and to “stick” you’ll slide your cards underneath your bet. To “double,” you’ll place your cards face up on the table and lay an additional bet next to your original bet. Placing your wager next to one of your cards indicates “split.”

Learn what hand gestures are used in other games to help you better understand the communication taking place between more experienced players and the dealer.

Mind your chips

There are many things to keep in mind when it comes to casino chips:

  • Handle your chips like a pro by checking out the minimum and maximum bets displayed on boards above the tables before you sit down. This way you’ll avoid placing a $10 bet when the minimum is $20.

  • Never hand a dealer cash when buying chips. Instead, put your cash on the table in front of you and the dealer will exchange your money for chips, clearly announcing the amount.

  • This is something you may not learn from playing online roulette. When playing roulette at a casino, your chips will be a different color from other players’ chips. Find out where you have to place your chips for a bet and if you’re not sure, ask the dealer. This way, you’ll avoid forfeiting a bet because your chips are in the wrong place.

  • Also, while playing roulette, do not move or remove your chips while the roulette is spinning and the same goes for blackjack while a hand is being played.

  • When you want to leave the table, indicate this to the dealer and your specially colored chips will be exchanged for generic casino cash chips.

Looking for more?

Looking for more advice for casino table games? Check out all the casino table game tips we have to offer for some of the most popular online casino table games across the world. And make sure you know these tips if you like to play at online casinos.

Play like a pro at BetMGM

When you register online with BetMGM, you get access to a huge collection of the best casino games. Whether you’ve played before or it’s your first time, there’s plenty of help online including our Poker Player’s Guide that covers different games, how to bet, strategy and more. You’ll also be able to enjoy many other table games, like blackjack, craps, roulette and other exciting gambling classics. And if you want to take a break from the tables, kick back and relax with a few spins of jackpot slots.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
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Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.