First Timer on the Casino Table


As much as I like to gamble (usually among friends), I have never sat down on a Casino Table to play a real game before. I’ve been to casinos in Macau, Genting, Las Vegas various cruise ships but the most I’ve ever done was to sit at the slots machine and watch my money thin away with the pressing of buttons. My win rate is only about 10 to 15% for the slots machine. I’ve played “Big, Small” once in Genting but it was kind of too intense for me and we stopped playing in 5 minutes dividing our losses of 10 or 20 RM. I was so ignorant back then that I took the table chip to the cashier only to walk back to the table embarrassingly to change back to money chips.

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I don’t know what got over me this time round on board the Costa Victoria (for Shipsomnia 2016), I was hanging out at the casino long enough to be tempted into gambling. The casino in Costa Victoria caught me by a pleasant surprise as there was no smoke in the casino. All other casinos I’ve visited before (including Royal Caribbean) had people smoking and the stench was cigarette makes it rather uninviting. On the other hand, Costa’s casino was smoke free and as a result, I marked my debut into playing Table Games.

On Day 2 of the cruise, I was lingering in the casino observing various table games. I have always been fascinated with Roulette as my brother said that the math tuition teacher taught him the double up rule on 3 to 1 odds. Meaning you bet on 1st 12, 2nd 12 or 3rd 12 and you stick to your choice. If you lose, you double up your bet and bet on the same thing and if you continue losing, you need to double up the bet. If you win, you have to start with the smallest denomination all over again. The “rule” of gambling is that you have to set aside your “budget” at the beginning and leave immediately once all the money you plan to spend is all gone or when you win more than 50% of your original budget. The sad truth is.. above all these tips and strategies, luck (though it can be equate to a probability number) is still an uncertainty. Probably that’s the reason why my math tuition teacher still continues to teach tuition despite his countless trip to Genting (back then).

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Alright so on that day, I was hovering at the Roulette table long enough to be invited by a playing customer to “have a seat” and be his “lucky charm”. I guess beginners’ luck truly exist. I bet on my birthday numbers and he won that exact number in the first round. How Lucky can beginner’s luck be? very lucky i suppose. It was a 2.7% chance and a payout of 1 to 35. Meaning I won 35*$5 = $175 for him that round. He gave me 9 chips ($45) and told me to continue betting but I ended up losing everything. Suddenly there was one round he told me to choose between odd or even and I said even. The next moment he placed a $100 chip on even. You have no idea how scared I was when the spin was made and how much relief I felt when the number eventually landed on an even number and I won him another $100. I clearly cannot take or enjoy the stress of gambling, especially when the money ain’t yours. After that round, I made up an excuse to escape and left. 2 hours later when I walked past the roulette table again, he was still sitting down on that same chair. Either he was on a roll or he has emptied more money from his wallet but I did not dare to stop and say hi. Gambling with other people (or strangers) money is very stressful.

On the very 4th (last) night of the cruise, I decided that it was my last chance to make my debut on the casino table. During the dinner session, I attempted to draft out my own strategy table based on probability but I gave up when I realised that it was going to take me forever as I didn’t even know the number of sets used in the deck. For their style of Blackjack, queens are taken out of the deck which makes each deck 48 cards instead of 52. Anyway, I found a strategy table online which tells you what to do (but doesn’t show the probability numbers behind the table).

After dinner, I sat down at an empty Blackjack 21 table with a $100 black chip and the dealer had to open the table because of me. It started with a long shuffle and during the process, more people joined in. As I declared to him I was a beginner, the dealer gave me a crash course on hand actions (extra important as they will check the CCTV in case of any disputes). The minimum bet for blackjack was $10USD (cheapest table game apart from roulette – $5). Throughout the night, my money pile was moving up and down like a see-saw. Every time I was on a losing streak (lowest point was like $15), I will start winning and the highest I had was $140. Felt tempted to stop playing and cash out but my friend said it was not enough to cover our jackpot losses and have spare cash for drinks. So I went on and on and on until I got quite tired (somewhere at the 2 hour mark). Eventually, I stopped and cashed out at $50 (leaving with a deficit of $50).

Back to my thoughts and feelings – (Totally personal and may not be a representative of anything) In my experiences, I noticed that western casinos tend to be a lot more noisy than Asian casinos. The western culture is a little more spontaneous and people (strangers) tend to joke around each other even with regards to bad decisions (note that I was playing on a $10 table; not the high rollers). You will often get a second or third opinion from the floor and small talk conversations will bound to happen between the staff, with the staff and among the players. The game may get stressful at times but all the random conversations and noise will help to calm your emotions down and enjoy the game.

The dealers in Costa were also very funny and interesting people. There was this lady who always get small cards which sums up to 14/15/16 and she will open the next card and it will be “Too Many” and she says “Too Many” in a funny and “relief” tone which makes us happy as she makes her payout. When a dealer gets blackjack, they may say like “Whoops, Sorry!” Small gestures like this makes the players feel happy and relief as the dealer seem to be on our side!! Even the manager who walks around to supervise the dealers will join in the teasing. There was one who told the dealer, “If you get blackjack, you don’t have to come to work tomorrow” and small trivial conversations can lighten up the mood and atmosphere. The same lady dealer even asked us why we were so quiet when she was shuffling the card! Well, this comfortable atmosphere made me sit through 2 hours of my life on the blackjack table. Even though I eventually lost $50, I didn’t feel too upset because I enjoyed the company and the environment. Well, it was a pleasant experience.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to remind yourself that the banker always win. Casino is a place for leisure and fun, not for increasing wealth and fortune.

Do you like to visit the Casinos too? Share with me your experience!

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