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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tips on casino etiquette for novices

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(AP) — You have a pocket full of money, you’re feeling lucky and you’re headed to one of Ohio’s new casinos in Cleveland and Toledo. Now what?

The etiquette on the fast-paced casino floor may be unfamiliar to the novice gambler who hasn’t been traveling to glitzy Las Vegas or Atlantic City, or for that matter to Detroit and Erie, Pa.: how to bet, tip, draw another card and more.

The inaugural casino experience in Ohio had its share of etiquette missteps.

You can wear just about anything at a casino — within limits. Three weeks after the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland opened in May, it imposed a ban on saggy pants and shirts printed with offensive images. The “code of conduct” also bans firearms, loitering and running.

Karen Elliott, 47, of Cleveland, who had been to a casino before Cleveland’s opened, noticed novices unfamiliar with rules and manners, such as jostling for open slot machines. “They don’t know too much what they’re doing,”

Poker player Robert Smith, 26, of Cleveland, said he hasn’t seen too many glazed-over stares from rookies but thought that’s because the games he favors draw experienced gamblers.

“The poker players know what they are doing,” he said. “It’s really self-explanatory. The rules are on the table. You can read how to play the game. They shouldn’t sit down to play if they don’t know how to play.”

For novices, here is some advice from casino experts:

Q. I’m confused about the casino games: what should I do?

A. The same as looking for something in the hardware store: “Don’t be bashful. The best thing you can do is ask,” said Brad Hirsch, assistant general manager of the Horseshoe casino in Cleveland. “It’s funny, sometimes in the casino, people who are maybe unclear on how to do something, they revert to not asking and are afraid to ask.”
What’s up with the blackjack players using hand signals?

Blackjack players must signal by hand if they want another card to make the decision clear for the overhead surveillance camera. Swiping the palm toward the player means deal another card and the back-and-forth “safe” signal means hold.

The dealer is moving fast: is it bad form for a rookie to slow it down?

No, according to Walter Thomason’s “Blackjack for the Clueless.” “The rapid pace of play can be especially intimidating to a novice player. If this occurs, you can reduce the speed of play by taking a bit longer to signal.”

Should I tip the dealer?

Yes. Jill Vangen, owner of the Ohio School of Casino Dealers in suburban Cleveland, said dealers rely on tips for a significant part of their income. “If you don’t tip, they don’t eat,” she said.

If I play blackjack all night, when and how much to tip?

Mark Pilarski, a Reno, Nev., casino veteran and now a syndicated columnist, suggested tipping every dozen hands or so, or at least when leaving the table. How much? Like a restaurant server, it depends on the quality of the service, Pilarski said. Vangen thought 10 percent of a $50 blackjack win was appropriate.

Is it bad manners to give advice to others players at the table?

“Mind your own business,” Thomason says. Some players insist on telling others how to play “even when their advice is neither asked for nor appreciated.”
Can you reserve a slot machine for a friend’s restroom break?

Yes, writes Darwin Ortiz in “Casino Gambling for the Clueless.” “You should respect this claim unless you want to risk having some irate woman belt you with her purse.”

Is it OK to cheer at the craps table?

Sure, according to Vangen. “If you’ve got everyone cheering, that means the table’s hot, so it isn’t bad etiquette,” she said.

Can I take photos to show my friends how a cherished art-deco department store became the Cleveland casino?

Yes, photos are allowed, just not at the tables.

What’s the best advice for casino rookies?

Same as the veterans, according to Pilarski: know when to quit. “Have fun, expect to lose and only money you can afford to lose. It is fun if it’s money you can afford to lose. But if it’s not, it’s no fun at all.”

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