John Grochowski

John Grochowski

When I receive reader tales of first casino visits, they nearly always involve slot machines. Slots are the games that attract the most players, and slot jackpots are always memorable.

Lately, several readers have emailed first trip reports that involve table games. The variety is welcome, so let’s share a few.

RANDY: When my wife and I told her family at Thanksgiving that we’d planned a casino trip, everyone was full of advice. Apparently everyone had gone except us.

Her brother told us we had to play craps because it was the best game. He got out a huge sheet of paper and rolled it out over the dining table, and drew a craps table.

Then he started explaining all these bets. I pretended to understand what he was saying, but my wife’s eyes just glazed over.

When we checked into the hotel and got our bags to the room, I asked, “So, are we headed to the craps table?” She just burst out laughing. We were set up to have a good time no matter what.

We did try tables first. I’d played some blackjack with college buddies and with guys at a former job, and she’d played a little for fun with her brothers and father. We at least knew rules, even if we didn’t know strategy. She got a blackjack on her first hand, and e high-fived. I think we lost $30 between us.

Before the trip was over, we tried roulette, red dog, slots and video poker, but I don’t think either one of us took the idea of playing craps seriously.

DURWARD: I went on a three-day casino getaway with Jane, the woman I would marry a year later.

It was a package deal with a travel agent and along with the tickets and brochures we got applications to join the players club. We filled out the forms at home, then went right to the booth and got our cards, no hassle.

We didn’t really understand what they were for, but that just fit in with not really understanding the games and not having much money to play with. We were just winging it.

Jane and I knew just enough about roulette to bet red or black. We decided to play separately and have one bet red and the other bet black. Then we wouldn’t lose money and we could learn a little more while we played.

I didn’t realize then that you could both lose if 0 or 00 came up, but we got lucky. We played for half an hour, and there were no zeroes. We didn’t lose any money, so we kept our bankroll intact to try other things the next couple of days.

Honestly, not much of our play was at our host casino. We were big into sightseeing that first time. But sure enough, a month later we each got offers in the mail for half-price rooms and free buffets. The offers kept coming for two or three years, even though we never went back to that casino.

Since then, we’ve always made sure to use our cards.

SAM: I studied blackjack, memorized basic strategy, practiced online and was ready to take the game by storm. Then I went to a casino for the first time, found a seat at a $10 table, and couldn’t win a hand. I was down $200 before I knew it.

I’ve done better since then. Blackjack is my game and there is no second choice. But man, there are no guarantees, are there?

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