If you aren’t a gambler, the idea of feeding money into a slot machine or sitting down at a table game probably makes you as uneasy as a hooker in church. There is no reason you *have* to gamble while in Vegas, but if you want to avoid serious FOMO — especially if you’re with a group that likes to make it rain on the casino floor — there are just a few things you need to know to navigate the sea of slots and tables with confidence (without running your bank account into the ground…hopefully).

Set a Limit

The first thing you should do is set a limit every time you plan to gamble. Whether that means for the entire trip, per night or per casino, figure out what works for you in terms of how much money you’ve got to spend. Hopefully you’ll win, but you need to make peace with the fact that you might go bust. Choose a limit that won’t ruin you, and then stick to it. It doesn’t need to be high; you can have a great time even with a small amount of money.

TIP: Don’t forget that spending money can mean great casino rewards including everything from free t-shirts to free nights at the hotel. Spending some money gambling can equal some awesome freebies at that casino. That being said, be smart about where you choose to bet your money and how much you’ve got to spend. Dropping $1,200 just to ‘win’ a free $100/night stay isn’t much of a deal.

Have you always wanted to stay a few nights at Cosmo? Choosing to spend your gambling money there could mean a free girls weekend!

Know You’re Probably Going to Lose (And Be OK With That)

Look — casinos aren’t in the business of making you rich. While most people view gambling as an opportunity to win money, it’s smart to look at it as the opposite. View it as entertainment that you pay for that comes with a chance to win big. If you think of it the same way as dropping money on seeing a movie or getting drinks at a bar, it’s not as much of a shock if you don’t end up ballin’ out like Beyonce at the end of your trip. You’ve set a limit and you’re paying for a great time, so if you get lucky, it’s… an even greater time.

To get the most entertainment value out of your gambling experience, pick games that genuinely interest you, take advantage of the comped drinks, interact with fellow gamblers or strategically spend your money on machines that are likely to give you a bigger payout. In short, do what you need to do to really enjoy yourself and the gambling will be worth it.

Keep in mind that your return on “investment” while gambling isn’t always an immediate cash win. It could mean racking up points on a casino’s loyalty program or things like free buffet passes and entries into slot tournaments that can mean a solid return on your money. The first time my boyfriend went to Vegas, he lost about $600… and then pulled over $2,000 of value out of free hotel stays over the next few years.

Free Drinks!

Even if you aren’t a big gambler, you can still benefit from the perks. Pop your booty down in front of a penny slot machine or 25 cent video Blackjack. You probably won’t be able to retire at 27, but you sure can rack up the vodka sodas while earning rewards points and not losing much cash. Seriously, you were going to spend a ton on drinks anyway, so why not?

This is just one great way to get super cheap drinks in Vegas — and as always, remember to tip your waitress. Tipping well isn’t just the right thing to do; it’ll also encourage the waitress to keep the drinks flowing.

Find Your Games

Depending on how much money you feel like playing with, there’s a game for every occasion. Don’t feel like spending much, but you want some low-key play while the rest of squad gambles hard? The Game King machines are great to kill time on, they’re fun, and you can usually pretty much break even playing low-stakes Blackjack, 25 cent Keno or Video Poker.

If you’re feeling like something more fun or you want to make a few quick bets just to say you did? Games like the Dolly Parton and Ellen DeGeneres slots are really interactive and allow you to get in some gambling while being entertained. The bonus games are fun and plentiful and you won’t lose too much money as long as you don’t make huge bets.

Gamble With a Friend

Teaming up with a friend always makes things more fun. Losing money next to your partner in crime is way better than losing money alone. But who says you have to lose at all?

By utilizing a friend you can literally hedge your bets over at the roulette table. For example, one of you places a bet on black and one of you bets red — aside from the 1 in 38 chance if the ball landing on the green 00 and making both of you lose, each time the wheel spins one of you will win and one of you will lose.

You won’t win any money, but you won’t lose it, either. You’ll get to play and interact with others while racking up rewards… not to mention the free drinks.

So now you know how to fully have the Vegas gambling experience without missing out and without breaking the bank. Gaming may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s a little something for everyone, even if it’s just scoring free drinks while gabbing with your girls at the sportsbook.


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