Try your luck: 10 tips on beating the odds on your first casino trip

Published: Monday, January 08, 2018 @ 10:50 AM

Man Wins Over $1 Million At Texas Casino On Christmas

There's just something appealing about a casino vacation, whether you're dreaming of the luxury of the world's most extravagant casino resorts or playing roulette at one of Yahoo's top-ranked casinos outside of Vegas. Or maybe you're just longing for a day playing the slots at a smaller place like the Mardis Gras Casino and Resort in West Virginia.

»RELATED: Feeling lucky? Travel to these four casinos closest to Atlanta

While the Las Vegas strip topped the list as "the king of gaming, boasting the most revenue from casinos in the world," according to The Richest, Atlantic City, Chicago and Detroit weren't far behind.

If this is the year you'd like to join in on the action, great! Just take it slow and do your research if you want maximum enjoyment from your first visit to a casino. 

Whether you're mesmerized by the televised World Series of Poker, intrigued by the high-stakes poker in the 2017 movie Molly's Game, or obsessed with playing slots or blackjack online, understand one thing: when you get out of the entertainment world and step into a real-life casino, everything's different.

Here are 10 tips for anyone making a first-time trip to a casino, drawing from the combined knowledge of gambling and travel experts:

•Learn the games

"You wouldn't offer to play Kobe Bryant a little one-on-one basketball for $1,000, would you?" ThoughtCo. asked. "Well, your odds of beating him are probably about the same as winning at a casino game you've never played or read about, and while reading about Kobe won't help you beat him, learning about a new game first will really help!"

You can pick up the game basics at a site like WhereTraveler

•Try free lessons when you get there

Many casinos offer free, live instruction in blackjack, craps, roulette, pai gow, pai gow poker, mini-baccarat and poker in an effort to entice you to play more. Not only do the lessons teach you the rules of the game, they can boost your confidence with lessons on the etiquette and jargon associated with each game. Check directly with the casino to find out what gaming lessons are offered and at what time.

Vegas Hotel Special also has a list of the Vegas casinos that offer free gaming lessons.

•Take your time deciding what to play

This advice from the Party Poker blog applies to all the casino rooms. "If you can't work out what is being played, ask a dealer or the floor manager, as they'll be more than happy to talk you through it."

•Don't be embarrassed if you can only afford a minimum buy-in

"Remember, you are paying to play in a recreational activity for your own enjoyment," noted Party Poker. "The establishment wants you to come back, so they should be very helpful and accommodating. If all of the games being played are too expensive, the floor manager can suggest more affordable games at alternate times."

(CMG)

•Know the odds

It's simple and complicated at the same time. Simple in that odds merely determine the chances that a player will win over other players (in games like Texas Hold 'Em) or the house (in games like Blackjack.) But complicated in that odds are a huge business, and vary wildly per game, according to Wise Geek. "Some games have relatively low gambling odds for the house, ranging from less than 1 percent in their favor for games like blackjack, to more than 20 percent for games like Big Six or keno."

Dummies.com recommended certain games and tactics for newbie players, including:

  • Jacks or Better video poker (the 9/6 version): "The 9/6 version of Jacks or Better is considered full pay because you get a payout of 9 for 1 for a full house and 6 for 1 for a flush." Make sure you're playing 9/6 by looking at the Full House/Flush payouts for one coin. Also never keep a kicker (a high card along with a pair) and throw away a small pair (tens or lower) if you have four cards to a flush or three cards to a royal flush.
  • Blackjack: Increase the already (relatively) good odds by playing the table with the least amount of decks, staying away from gimmick games like 6-5 blackjack, Spanish 21, or Super Fun blackjack and never take insurance.
  • Craps: The smartest strategy is to stick to the following bets in craps: Pass line bet with odds bet, come bet with odds, don't pass bet with odds, don't come bet with odds.

•Skip the bonus bets

Keep in mind that main bets (such as pass line at craps, banker bet at baccarat, ante bet at Three Card Poker) have the smallest house edge, according to ThoughtCo. Avoid the extra (or bonus) bets, since the house edge might be as much as five times higher.

•Know your limit

"Money management is a really boring subject and many people have trouble keeping track of what they have spent after a few hours of casino action," ThoughtCo. noted. "Make things easy on yourself by deciding on what you can afford to lose before you start playing. If you actually win, great, and don't be afraid to go home with the bucks. The casino will be open tomorrow, too!"

•Check out the hospitality standards before you go

If you're heading to Las Vegas, odds are good that you'll be able to hit a casino that offers free alcohol. Many will also have discounted rooms. Outside of Vegas, many of the tiny casinos or ones with little competition or state prohibitions (like Harrah's Cherokee in North Carolina) don't have free drinks.

•Play the free liquor game like a champ

According to WhereTraveler, it's a good idea to wait until the cocktail waitress approaches you at places with free liquor, instead of hitting a bar on the way in. "And if you're hitting the clubs later, start your drinking on the casino floor so there's less you have to spend - for any type of performance, even a DJ spinning, you'll get hit with an additional live entertainment tax. Better to start early!"

Avoid peak dinner times

To really enjoy your day of gambling, avoid the huge lines at peak dinner time. Instead, opt to eat between 5 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.-9 p.m. to avoid hours of waiting.

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Fort Ancient, other Ohio sites step closer to World Heritage status

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 6:59 PM


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The Fort Ancient Earthworks in Warren County and other sites comprising Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are a big step closer to being designated as World Heritage sites.

RELATED: Lawmakers join push for World Heritage status

“The U.S. Department of the Interior is scheduled to publish a notice in the Federal Register tomorrow inviting Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks as the United States’ next nomination to be prepared for World Heritage List consideration by the World Heritage Committee,” according to a press release issued Thursday by the Ohio History Connection.

This is the next step in the process through which officials with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decide the sites deserve the designation making them international tourist attractions.

MORE: What you should know about Fort Ancient Earthworks

“The final decision on inclusion on the list will be made by the World heritage Committee, composed of representatives from 21 nations elected from the members of the World Heritage Convention, and advised by the International Council on Monuments and Sites,” according to an announcement by the Department of the Interior.

Other sites include in the Ohio application are the Earthworks at Newark, the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park near Chillicothe, along with the Hopewell Mound Group and Seip, Hopeton and High Bank earthworks.

MORE: Warren County postponed projects due to questions about Trump support

Area lawmakers had joined an effort to win the designation for the sites. The bid had been placed on hold during the transition to the Trump administration, as the appointee to the U.S. Park Service was being made and the department’s direction determined.

“For more than a decade we have worked to recognize Ohio earthworks on the World Heritage List and we are excited to be one step closer,” Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection, said in a press release.

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You'll soon be able to cruise Pittsburgh's three rivers on a Tiki boat

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 2:30 AM

Stock photo of a Tiki hut at sunset. (Photo by mbrinkley3717 / Pixabay.com)
mbrinkley3717 / Pixabay.com
Stock photo of a Tiki hut at sunset. (Photo by mbrinkley3717 / Pixabay.com)(mbrinkley3717 / Pixabay.com)

When you think of Tiki bars and exotic tropical drinks, you probably don’t think of Pittsburgh. But starting this spring, you’ll be able to cruise the three rivers – Tiki style.

>> Read more trending news 

Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh will offer two-hour sightseeing charters on the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio rivers starting in May. Each 16-foot boat fits six people. They’re BYOB and children are allowed.

As the sun sets on a dreary day in Pittsburgh, let’s look ahead to this spring and summer! Who’s ready to watch sunsets on one of the three rivers from one of our Cruisin’ Tiki boats? 🏝 #weownthesummer

Posted by Cruisin' Tikis Pittsburgh on Thursday, February 15, 2018
 

According to a comment on its Facebook page, a two-hour tour will likely cost $400 or about $67 per person. That includes the cost of the boat, the captain and possibly a crew member.

Cruisin' Tikis already operates service out of the following locations:

  • Carolina Beach, North Carolina
  • Exhuma, Bahamas
  • Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Islamorada, Florida
  • Key West, Florida
  • Lake George, New York
  • Madeira Beach, Florida
  • North Miami, Florida
  • Sarasota-Bradenton, Florida
  • Tampa Bay, Florida
  • Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina
If you plan on riding the three rivers, you'll get some great views of the city skyline and stadiums

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5 wine tours a lot closer to home than Napa

Published: Tuesday, February 20, 2018 @ 5:41 PM

What you should know about wine.

You can take some of the most lavish, expensive wine tours in the world in the Napa Valley, where wines are all about heritage, taste and sophistication.

»RELATED: Georgia: Whether you love beer or wine, there’s a destination for you

These days, though, even the snootiest oenophile can find a worthy wine tasting in places far from California. And the same goes for the Napa-style custom of wine tours. Travelers in the South or Southeast have lots of pleasurable wine tours to choose from, including self-guided forays, touristy excursions and exclusive itineraries presided over by the wine elite.

Georgia, Tennessee and Texas are just a few of the markets that have come into their own in recent decades and have the wine trails to prove it. While you won't be inundated with award-winners on a few of these tours, you can still find numerous high-ranked wines and others that are fun to sample. The vintners are typically small, but accessible, and it's exciting to see newer wineries just starting to make their mark.

For a taste of fine wine tours nowhere near Napa, consider these five:

Rocky Top Wine Trail

Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Free

All hail Appalachian winemakers. Five Tennessee wineries (and a distillery!) along 12 miles near the Great Smoky Mountains have banded together to present a free, self-guided tour. Each of the wineries is open all week for free tastings. They include Hillside Winery and Apple Barn Winery in Sevierville, Mountain Valley Winery and Mill Bridge Winery in Pigeon Forge and Doc Collier Moonshine Distillery and Sugarland Cellars in Gatlinburg. Plus, there's no law against catching Dollywood as part of your visit. And don't miss the Muscadine Spumante from Hillside Winery in Sevierville, which recently won the Governor's Cup at Wines of the South.

Dahlonega Wine Trail

Dahlonega, Georgia

Free or nominal charge tastings

A scenic drive through the Dahlonega mountains sets the tone for sampling wines from "the Heart of Georgia Wine Country." It's the grapes that make the difference: The growing conditions and mountain elevations are ideal for European, French hybrid and American wine grapes. The trail makes a great day trip from Atlanta, with a driving time of a little over an hour and plenty of chances to meet winemakers and sample their labors of love. Stops include Cavender Creek Vineyards & Winery, Frogtown Cellars, Montaluce Winery & Estates, Three Sisters Vineyards & Winery and Wolf Mountain Vineyards & Winery.

Georgia Spring Wine Highway

Northeast Georgia

Starting at noon Friday, March 16 through 5 p.m. Sunday, March 25, 2018 - 5 p.m.

$50

This annual shebang is a great way to visit lots of wineries and sample a few wine and food pairings, enjoy live music or other mini-wine tasting events. The Winegrowers Association of Georgia sponsors and Northeast Georgia plays host. Travelers pay at the first winery visited and then can enjoy any or all of the other participating winery offerings: Each place does its own format, along with filling up those "passport glasses" that commemorate each year's event. Participants range from Cartecay Vineyards in Ellijay apple country to Fainting Goat Vineyards in Jasper, with dozens of other options around and about Northeast Georgia, all listed on the event website.

Texas Hill Country Wine and Wildflower Journey

Austin to Fredericksburg and Lampasas to New Braunfels and other points in between

April 6-22, 2018

Individuals $45, couples $75

Who says you have to be in California for a lavish wine country experience? The Texas Hill Country's annual wine trail celebrates the blooming wildflowers along with a full 17 days of sipping award-winning wines. Each ticket includes a tasting passport for each featured winery (limit four per day). A small sampling of participating wineries includes Lost Draw Cellars, Messina Hof Hill Country, Narrow Path Winery and Old Man Scary Cellars.

The Driftwood Estate winery in Texas Hill Country is just one of dozens in the area with phenomenal scenery.(Contributed by wayoutwestaustin.com/For the AJC.com)

Texas Hill Country wine trail day trip

Johnson City, Hye and Stonewall Texas

Tasting fees vary

An hour-long sashay that runs about 44 miles, this is a lovely way to enjoy part of Texas Hill wine country. Each place has its own personality and style of winemaking, even though the vintners are all neighbors. Enjoy escorting yourselves to Texas Hills Vineyard, Lewis Wines, Narrow Path Winery and seven others.

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Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards

Published: Wednesday, February 21, 2018 @ 8:57 AM

Florida Beach Named the Best in the Nation

A Florida beach has been named the nation's best in TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice awards.

>> See the full rankings here

The travel website announced Tuesday that Clearwater Beach was the best in the U.S. in 2018, climbing from No. 4 in 2017. The beach also topped the national list in 2016. 

>> Read more trending news 

Meanwhile, Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, took the award for the best beach worldwide.

>> Click here or scroll down to see which other beaches made the lists

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