Tactics for Winning More at Smaller Casinos

People Playing at Casino Table

Hollywood has made the masses believe that the massive monuments of excess in Las Vegas are the only type of establishment you should ever gamble at. The fantastic amenities and opulent appointments in these beautiful properties aren’t to be ignored.

However, these large gambling coliseums also attract sharks. That will make it difficult to find much success around the poker tables.

The larger casinos offer challenges for slot players and table players, too. Giving players a seemingly endless choice of options for slot machines makes it difficult to find the games with the highest RTP. Blackjack players could shuffle around looking for a great table and finally settle for a 6 to 5 game. The list of potential hazards goes on and on.

Smaller casinos offer something unique for the players, and I suggest you make an effort to find one before your next casino trip. Let’s look at 7 keys to dominating in smaller casinos.

1 – Look for the Least Skilled Dealers

One excellent way for players to gain an advantage in the casino is a technique called hole carding. Hole carding is when a player can catch a glimpse of the dealer’s hole card in blackjack. The benefits are excellent. You’ll know exactly when to stand or hit based on what the dealer is holding.

Suddenly insurance goes from being a sucker bet to your best friend. If you know that the dealer has a 10, you’re guaranteed to break even for the hand. Best of all, hole carding is entirely legal. So, you don’t need to stress about any ramifications by the casino.

Tips:The tricky part is finding a sloppy dealer. This can be made more manageable than in the mega-casinos for a few key reasons. For one, the turnover at the smaller casinos tends to be higher than those on the Las Vegas Strip. This changing of the guard leads to less skilled dealers.

Not to say the dealers at smaller casinos aren’t skilled, just that the larger casinos pay more. Giving them the ability to keep highly talented dealers happy. Also, there are far fewer tablets in the smaller casinos. So, it’s easier to walk through the tables and observe the dealers.

Find a sloppy dealer, and you’ll be able to lock onto a table and attack. Do your best to be as casual as possible. If the casino catches onto your advantage, they’ll immediately pull the dealer or close the table.

2 – Shop for Leverage

The vast casinos worldwide have gained a loyal following and built recognizable brands that keep players striding through their always open doors. The small casinos face the behemoth head-on but are tasked with finding unique ways to attract customers. You should use the small casinos’ own desire to lure players against them.

This can be especially beneficial in small casinos that directly compete with the juggernauts. The smaller casinos will often offer better deposit bonuses and comps for players. You may be wondering how getting free rooms or comped meals will help you dominate smaller casinos. It’s because that’s money that remains in your pocket and not the casinos.

Note:If you’re able to cut a deal for a free stay based on how much you plan on playing, you’re going to save hundreds of dollars. That money can be used to extend your bankroll or merely stay in the coffers for the next trip.

Invest your time building relationships with casino staff and management. This can earn you rewards that you might have never considered. Before you know it, you’ll have your own casino hook-up. Shop around constantly and leverage casino A against casino B whenever it’s beneficial.

3 – Take Care of the Employees

Tipping comes as counterintuitive to a lot of advantage gamblers. These players look strictly at the dollars spent tipping as dollars lost. They aren’t entirely wrong, but they aren’t right either. Tipping creates an image of who you are to casino staff.

Someone who is constantly complaining will be far less likely to catch any favors than a generous player. These small casinos focus much more on relationships than the larger casinos. That’s because they need every player through the door to return as often as possible.

If you craft a reputation as a friendly player that takes care of the employees, you’ll be treated like royalty. About a decade ago, I was in a rather large casino on a random weekday. My buddy and I had ridden our motorcycles up and played poker most of the night.

The next day we were having lunch in a casino restaurant. The bartender began to talk to us about some financial hardships her family was enduring. To break it down, they needed under $900 to completely change their situation. We were young guys in jeans and t-shirts, and I felt like it was much more of a therapeutic rant than a cry for help. We discussed while she was away and left a tip for what she needed.

The entire experience was incredible. We had slipped out, but the manager chased us down and asked if we really left the sizable tip. After many hugs and some tears, the casino manager met with us and offered us a 3-night stay in a lovely room. We were treated like Kings for three days and had some fun with the casino staff.

My point is that being a decent person will always yield rewards in one form or another. We would have been fine slipping into the mix and never thinking about the money again; instead, we were treated to a taste of the good life.

4 – Pay Attention to the Game Rules

One of the most problematic aspects of gambling in large casinos is finding suitable games. You are faced with a sea of tables, and while they may all look the same, the reality is they are often incredibly different. Small casinos definitely try the same strategy, but they have far less margin for error. For example, in a casino with 60 tables, you can hide the 3 to 2 blackjack tables among the 6 to 5.

Tips:I’ve actually sat at a table where all other rules were identical, and I played a game that paid 3 to 2 while 6 feet away; they were only getting 6 to 5. Many players never slow down to do the math, but the house edge is roughly doubled.

Playing real money roulette is another game where casinos will slide in a great match like European roulette among a sea of American roulette tables. They know that all the tables will be complete during busy times, and most players don’t know the difference anyway. Approach the tables as a reconnaissance mission. Observe the tables, weigh your options, and proceed in the best course of action.

5 – Pick Your Spots for Tournaments

Tournaments can be a fantastic tool for extending your bankroll and maximizing your return on investment. However, the big tournaments draw in sharks from all over a region. That may make you just another small fish in an even bigger pond.

Clearly, this is not ideal for poker players. Small casinos are fantastic for moving in and feasting on weaker players. So, it’s hardly a surprise when the large crowds are full of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Try to avoid the larger tournaments that are sponsored. Instead, focus on small daily tournaments where you’re less likely to bump into elite players.

6 – Hit the Slots Hot

I have never bought into the idea that you should time your slots to play. The RNGs that dictate the game’s results don’t care how much the spin button is being hit. However, there is a return to the player to consider. When you’re catching the slot machines on a busy night, you may be able to find some opportunities.

Note:If nothing else, the progressive jackpots should be steadily climbing during these periods. So, you’ll maximize your win if you’re lucky enough to catch a jackpot.

7 – Learn Your Competition

Probably the most significant benefit of smaller casinos is the ability to learn your competition and the odds around you. If you regularly play poker at a small casino, you’re going to get to know the tendencies of several regulars.

The more you can learn about your opponent, the better you can approach hands against them. You’ll know what players are better than you and which are worse.

Important:This information becomes extremely valuable during cash games or tournaments. Knowing when you’re up against a stronger opponent is often as critical as spotting the weaker ones.

Finally, it affords you an opportunity to build relationships. You may find a more experienced player that’s willing to share their experience and wisdom with you. That can not only build a lifelong friendship but also launch your play to the next level.


Whether you gamble in a large or small casino often breaks down to geography. However, in some casino hotspots, you have a choice of where you gamble.

It may be time to utilize the 7 keys to dominating smaller casinos and leave the mega-casinos for the tourists.

Petko Stoyanov
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About Petko Stoyanov
My name is Petko Stoyanov, and I've been a gambling writer for more than ten years. I guess that was the natural path for me since I've loved soccer and card games for as long as I can remember! I have a long and fairly successful history with English Premier League betting and online poker, but I follow many other sports. I watch all big European soccer leagues, basketball, football, and tennis regularly, and I keep an eye on snooker, volleyball, and major UFC events.