Not surprisingly, the gambling dens that exist as a human enterprise in weighing luck, odds and fortunes have bred their own internal rules and delicately balanced protocol over time. By now, casino etiquette is so ingrained into the myth of urban cool that its do’s and don'ts could make the subject of a modern code of Hammurabi.
There’s your casino vernacular (you could get 86’d if you don’t learn the language), the superstitious gamblers (never handle $50 bills inside a casino, it’s a flashback cue to the dark times when the Strip was ruled by psychotic mobsters) and, ultimately, good manners.
Unless you wish to awe the audience, upset the status quo and have a pack of security guards silently growling at you on your way out, consider adopting the strange ways of this exotic land: the brick-and-mortar casino.
After all, who would you rather be?
The dashing, cool-spirited Eastwood with a gunslinger ace up his sleeve and a memorable one-liner to entertain the poker table? Or Angel Eyes causing a hellish firestorm and berating the dealer because his losing streak is turning him sour and foul? Maybe Tuco, riding the free booze bandwagon and spilling it all over the green felt table and the lucky dice of his fellow patrons?
The Good - Tip the Table/ Dealer
Win or lose, tip the dealer. All the more so if you’re superstitious or particularly sensitive to invisible vibes. We’ve heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. Croupiers tend to silently root for the players who exercise their generosity gene while penny-pinching gamblers will attract some bad karma under the general rules of quid-pro-quo.
You don’t need to go big with your donations. Not like 007 in Casino Royale, where he tips thousands of francs to everyone, from the bell boy to the Martini-slinging waitress.
Make it $1 chip here and there, or more, depending on your win. Dealers make the minimum wage in the US. But maybe you’re in a country where the practice doesn’t exist, like Denmark or China. Then you’re off the hook.
The Bad - Don’t Ruin the Game or Break the Table’s Winning Streak
The casino people are nice enough folks to offer you comp drinks. It would be a shame if you spilled them all over the craps table. That would, in its turn, trigger a domino-like stir in which tables have to be relocated and frustrated patrons need to renounce their warm, lucky chairs.
Gambling halls are especially prone to butterfly effects since everyone tends to be on the edge here. Contrary, of course, to casino etiquette that requires calm and grace.
If you want to avoid a small blunder turning into a catastrophic night, just use that cup holder.
The Ugly - No Selfie Sticks or Teddy Bear Hidden Cameras in the Casino
Understandably, gambling venues are camera-shy even if they are also veritable Peeping Toms into the habits and moves of each of their visitors.
But casino etiquette cannot be shirked, so don’t traipse around taking snapshots of the prairie button-slappers or the angry security guards as they prepare to smash your camera to pieces.
The Good - Be a Dapper Dresser
Remember how spick-and-span Maverick stayed, in spite of the dusty old tracks of the Wild West, the hanging, and the shoot-outs, or Kitty Le Roy constantly sabotaging his attire? Take notice and be a dapper gambler!
To lure all the sorts and shorts of players, Las Vegas has lowered the dressing bar to sandals and Hawaiian loose shirts. However, don’t be that relaxed unless you’re playing online baccarat from the safe confines of your free-of-fashion-sense home.
Also, there’s no need to dress like a pre-millennial Slim Shady to play the part of the card shark. Sunglasses, hoodies, and the unreachable look of the Terminator are no match for the sartorial, simple elegance of a killer-black suit and white shirt.
The Bad - Don’t Be a Petulant Child Demanding a Win
When a sour loser can’t refrain from sulking up the establishment, casinos should be entitled to a restraining order signed by a judge. Ill-humor should only be directed at lady luck (who, everyone knows, is fickle and nasty).
Screaming at the dealer, or “tapping the fish bowl” to use the proper vernacular, is so not casino etiquette. Neither is berating your fellow players for your losing streak. We’re all chasing the same dream- hoping to trip into a money pit on our way to fame and glory- and if you think the dealer or the patrons are out to get you… well, don’t watch any more Zeitgeist or Michael Moore.
The Ugly - No Touch Feely with Other’s Chips
Chips are sacred currency in the casino. Fondling other players’ chips would be like asking them to present their wallet to you so you can have a feel for their dollars.
Also, don’t think that turning your chips upside down means they’re guarded against theft by some unwritten casino rule. The temptation is too hard to resist, even for your friendly dealer.
Adhering to casino etiquette will distinguish you from the hoi polloi of gamblers that flood the scene without proper knowledge of the games or the right protocol. Would you bend house rules for the sake of uncouth guests?