(Casino) Knowledge Is Power

The shrewdly packaged allure of the casino starts the minute you pull up to the glittering facade. From neon signs to valets to the smooth hum of the sliding-glass doors, the modern casino entrance is designed to attract you. Every possible consideration is given to design, color, and lighting.

The scheme doesn’t end at the front steps, however. As you proceed through the casino’s front door, every square inch of floor space entices you into moving forward. Like a siren call, the sounds of winning jackpots beckon you onward, as do the color schemes, floral arrangements, glittering lights, slot machines, and table games. If you aren’t prepared, you may become disoriented inside a casino. The master plan behind the traffic flow is to bring you (and your wallet) into close proximity with the slot machines or table games at every opportunity. The pulsating pace of the gambling world is seductive and makes it hard for you to leave a winner.

Feeling overwhelmed — and not a little manipulated? It can be deflating to discover that the sounds, sights, and even smells are devised to lull you into a mesmerized state where you continue emptying your wallet into the casino coffers. But a casino visit doesn’t have to be a Svengali-like experience.

Don’t let the harsh realities of the casino world turn you off. Embrace them, because knowledge is power. And by understanding the psychology of casino design and getting to know the employees who perform their duties within the casino, you put yourself in a better position not only to enjoy the casino as an entertaining leisure activity but also to maintain the level-headedness and critical thinking required to succeed at your gambling ventures.

Your mission is to educate yourself before you enter these temples of chance. If you build your understanding of the components of a casino and the people who make it run, you’re more likely to make rational decisions when it comes to the games you choose to play — and less likely to part with the contents of your pocketbook because of some subliminal pull.

Entering the Casino: What You’re Up Against

The first secret to gambling success is to understand the inner workings of the casino world before you’re seduced by the flash and dazzle. Casinos are sophisticated and highly successful enterprises — and they don’t get that way by giving away money. Your best bet, then, is to be aware of basic casino operations so you can manipulate the experience to your advantage.

Marketing their way to your wallet

They see you coming from miles away. They know exactly who you are, how much money you make, what you like and dislike, and whether you’re married, single, or divorced. Who are these omniscient watchers who track your secrets? The IRS? CIA? Political campaign organizers?

None of the above. I’m talking about the marketing gurus at modern casinos. They’re constantly studying reams of data on millions of gamblers to develop profiles of guests who most willingly spend their discretionary income on a couple hours of distraction.

Nothing is left to chance in a modern casino. Every possible element, from the design of the wallpaper to the thickness of the carpet, is there to draw you in and keep you gambling as long as possible. All the colors, sights, sounds, and sensations serve one purpose: to make you happy — even when you lose.

Accepting the odds: The house rules

The casino’s first commandment is “The house shall always win.” A couple of games permit sharp players to break even or eke out a small edge occasionally. But casinos are in business to make money, so for most players, winning is a losing proposition.

Why? Here is a reason, stated three different ways:

The house charges a vigorish (commission) in some games, such as sports betting.

In many games, the casino doesn’t pay out true odds.

In roulette, for example, there are 37-to-1 odds of guessing the right number. But if you win, the payout is only 35 to 1. This difference may seem small, but that discrepancy actually gives the house one of the biggest edges in the casino.

The casino has a house edge — a mathematical advantage over the player in any game. Throughout the casino, players must overcome odds that aren’t favorable to winning.

Your goal is to find games where the casino has the lowest edge. Craps is a great example. This fun, exciting game offers great odds — if you stay away from the bad bets.

Protecting your money with a plan

For most people, developing a strategy for doling out their gambling bankroll can keep them out of serious trouble. Set a budget and stick to it. Consider contingencies (such as losing your bankroll in the first few minutes of your visit) and know how to respond when your wallet gets whacked.

Your strategy, however, is only as good as your willpower. Nothing jacks up casino profits faster than undisciplined gamblers. If you’re an impulsive type, then gambling may leave your bank account looking like it just went 15 rounds with a heavyweight boxing champion.

Now, it’s certainly true that most people can save their money by avoiding casinos altogether. So the best advice we can give to folks who don’t want to lose money is simple: Don’t gamble! But the conservative and prudent path in life isn’t the only choice. Gambling can be a great way to spice up a vacation and break out of a boring routine. Gambling is all about taking a risk — exposing yourself to a chance of loss.

However, don’t overdo it. Government studies show that as many as 1 in every 25 adults has a problem with compulsive gambling. Think about that the next time you sit down at a blackjack table. Several people in the pit probably shouldn’t be there.

Identifying the colors of the rainbow

Knowledge is power and is your only ally against the formidable forces that threaten to separate you from your hard-earned cash. One piece of knowledge you definitely need, particularly if you’re going to wade into the shark- infested waters of table games, is to be able to identify the varying colors and matching denominations of standard casino chips.

The casinos make this bit easy for you because the chips also have a denomination printed on them so you know the red chip, for instance, is worth $5 and the green chip is worth $25. The following is a comprehensive list of common casino-chip colors, as well as their corresponding values:

White: $1
Red: $5
Green: $25

Black: $100

Purple: $500

Burgundy: $1,000

Brown: $5,000

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