Casino Lesson – Casinos Want You To Win Early

Lessons In Life and In Gambling II


Even in 1974 you could tell that Reno was on the decline. Some of the older hotels had closed and it just seemed as though the town was beginning to accept the growing role of being Las Vegas’s little brother. High rollers went to Vegas to play on the five dollar tables and the rest of us went to Reno to play blackjack for a dollar a hand, even less in some joints.


It was the third Friday in May at about 10:00 or 11:00 PM at the Holiday Casino now the Sienna. I had never even seen the inside of a casino nor had I ever gambled. Setting foot inside even a small place like the Holiday was exciting. Lots of lights, slot machines, table games and free cocktails from pretty girls. Could things ever be better than this?


Since I had never gambled I didn’t know where to start. The slot machines seemed easy enough but there simply wasn’t an attraction there for me. The table games looked like much more fun, offering strategy choices along with some social interaction. All I knew was that I had a $20 bill that was burning a hole in my pocket.


Most people have a rudimentary understanding of blackjack and I was no different. I chose a $1 minimum table with a nice older (maybe 40+, or somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years older than I was ) lady dealer and sat down to try my luck. There were quick lessons on the rules of the game and changing money to cheques and we were off to the races.


This was great. I started winning right away, and when I didn’t win I just doubled up and won one of the next couple of hands. Could I be the one that invented the martingale? With my new found strategy and a very helpful experienced dealer I just couldn’t lose.


After a couple hours of play my wife swung by the table to inform me of her plans to retire for the night. She was quick to point out that I was $450 ahead of the game and politely offered to hold most of it for safe keeping, this of course wouldn’t be necessary since I would be up shortly.


This is the very experience that a casino wants for a first time patron. Show up and WIN! Nothing could be better to hook a first timer than to have them win easily. If you are a long time player, look back to your first casino experience. There is a good chance that your experience was an enjoyable one like mine. If we had gone in the front door and lost all of our money in a few minutes would we have wanted to go back?


I was lucky. I won the first time and didn’t turn into a full time sucker returning frequently to try to repeat the winning only to lose time and time again. This is what happens to a lot of gamblers; they encounter the perfect casino scenario and are hooked into being a mark forever.


I know a couple that went to Reno for the first time and won $10,000 on a free slot spin during check in. Two years later they filed bankruptcy due to non stop slot play by the wife.


You might wonder why I got lucky and spent the time to learn to be a good player or perhaps wonder what happened to the $450. I had the best lesson I could have had. I went up to the room after turning that $450 into about 60 bucks in less than 15 minutes, learning how brutal gambling could be.

Learn more about Billy the Kid in Part One of his story on how became a professional blackjack and casino games player.