Eight Casino Games and the Psychology of Why People Play Them

Las Vegas casinos are an absolute blast. Each has a slew of games of chance to choose from, and there’s something for everyone.

One of the great things about casino games is each differs in why they’re appealing, and players of various games often have very different reasons for playing.

The psychology of gambling is one of the best parts. Well, that and hand pays. And free drinks. But mostly psychology!

Here, then, are eight of the most popular casino games and why players play them.

1. Craps: When You Enjoy Meeting New People

Craps, referred to as “dice” by the cool kids, has some of the best odds in the casino. But that’s not really why most people play the game. Craps is social! Because most players have money riding on the same bet, it’s a team game and the camaraderie is unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else. If you have a hot roll at a dice table, you’re guaranteed to have a new batch of lifelong friends.

Casino Royale

Remember when crowding around a dice table was a thing?

2. Roulette: When You Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

One of the reasons roulette is so popular is it requires virtually no skill. Just put your chips on the numbers and hope Lady Luck is on your side! People sometimes get bent out of shape because a roulette table will have three zeroes. While this is a disadvantage to players, critics don’t seem to understand these two words: Who cares? People who play roulette are having a great time. It’s not about rules or odds. It’s about fun.

Roulette

You don’t have to play all your hunches. Hunches can be real jerks sometimes.

3. Baccarat: When You Really Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

Baccarat pretty much has two bets: You bet on the “player” or the “banker.” So, pretty much like a coin toss. The dealer does the rest. Whales love baccarat and fortunes have been won and lost playing this game. Ultimately, though, it’s pretty much a 50/50 game and what’s not to love about a game that takes five seconds to learn?

Baccarat

We learned baccarat at Lucky Dragon. Which closed shortly thereafter. They should’ve put quotation marks around the “Lucky.”

4. Keno: When You Really, Really Don’t Want to Learn How to Gamble

Remember how we said craps has some of the best odds in a casino? Well, keno has some of the worst. The house advantage (also called the “house edge”) for live keno is around 25 percent (and can be as high as 35 percent). In layperson’s terms, that’s an avalanche of suck. Still, keno can provide a low-cost form of enjoyment and, as we’ve said, that’s really the point of gambling, not merely the financial ROI. The strategy in keno involves: 1) Marking numbers. That’s the whole list. Just as with the lottery, winning it out of your hands, so just enjoy the ride.

world's largest keno board

Will you please grow up?

5. Blackjack: When You Like Math

Blackjack, unlike some games we’ve mentioned, involves a degree of skill. That means a player with knowledge of the game (basic strategy) tends to do better than one without. One of the biggest barriers to blackjack is it involves math. Every hand involves addition. Dealers do a lot of the heavy lifting, but it’s still up to players to make a decision, whether to hit or stand, for every hand. If you’re not up for sum math, blackjack may not prove to be of value.

blackjack

Getting a blackjack keeps the math to a minimum.

6. Sports Betting: When You Want To Have Skin in the Game

Lots of people who aren’t this blog absolutely love sports! And many of the people who love sports enjoy betting on sports. Here’s why: Sports betting makes sports a lot less boring. Rooting for your favorite team is one thing, but having money on the line inspires a whole new level of enthusiasm. Proof? During the pandemic, as major sports were shutting down, sports bettors shifted their attention to offbeat sports including ping pong and Belarusian soccer. No, really. The sports themselves don’t matter all that much, it’s all about the wagering action.

Circa sportsbook

If you’re into sports, the new Circa resort has a metric hell-ton of it.

7. Slots: When You Want an Escape

It’s a scientific fact playing slot machines can put gamblers into a trance-like state. Slots are a great way to escape our daily lives, to enter the “zone” where our concerns are set aside while we take a mental vacation. Slot players often lose track of time (casinos aren’t mad about that) as well as their surroundings. Slots are like self-hypnosis, where worries melt away and we’re freed up to reap the rewards of our labor and dispose of our disposable income. Everything in moderation, of course, but slots are a popular diversion from all the WTF in our everyday lives.

Cosmopolitan high limit slots

Cosmo is one of our favorite mental vacation destinations.

8. Video Poker: When You Love to Drink

Video poker has some of the best returns in a casino, but that’s not really why people play and it’s just one small part of the experience. The best part is the drinking! When you sit at a casino video poker bar, it’s expected you’ll play a reasonable amount per hand (in most places it’s a dollar per hand), but if you do, the drinks flow freely. Video poker provides a great value, and while there’s always a risk of “decision fatigue,” video poker players almost always have a great time because Las Vegas never runs out of libations.

Vital Vegas royal flush

We’ve gotten two royals in 20 years, so we’re definitely in it for the hooch.

There are lot of other casino games, of course, but the number eight is lucky, so we don’t want to screw with our mojo. As soon as this story goes live, we’re heading to the casino! Shocker.

We’d love to hear why you play your favorite casino game. Do you prefer solitude or interaction? Math or no math? Do the odds matter most or is the experience that gets your blood pumping?

Whatever game you play, Vegas is the place to do it. Otherwise, it would be Vital Des Moines, and that would just be awkward.

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