Tips on playing the odds at new Des Plaines casino

  • The new River Casino in Des Plaines opens to the public today.

    The new River Casino in Des Plaines opens to the public today. File photo

  • Getting to the casino

    Graphic: Getting to the casino (click image to open)

Updated 7/18/2011 9:28 AM

The glitz and glamour of the new Rivers Casino may dazzle and intimidate many a first-time gambler, but it would be wise to keep your wits about you, says William Chin, a DePaul University mathematics professor who teaches about risk, gambling and games of chance.

Rivers Casino opens today with more than 1,050 slots and 48 table games.


Chin warns novice gamblers to stay away from throwing their hard-earned cash on games where the odds are stacked against them.

"I'm a mathematician, so I believe in luck you can predict ahead of time," Chin said. "The odds are almost completely against you."

Here are some of his tips for first-timers who want to walk out with the shirts still on their back:

1. Don't play with money you can't afford to lose. Players should go in with an idea of the maximum amount of money they are prepared to lose, and stick to that amount.

2. Go online and read up on casino games and strategies.

3. Blackjack, craps and video poker are the best games for novices. "If you want to get really good, you can look into counting cards. You have to train yourself. Most people can do it."

4. Slot machines are games where the house has a huge advantage.

5. Stay away from roulette tables, which he compares to flushing money down the toilet.

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6. Take advantage of other attractions such as shows, lounges and restaurants. "It's sometimes a fun place to go out."

7. Take advantage of promotions and comps the casino offers.

8. Know when to quit. "If you're playing for fun and entertainment, the worst thing that can happen is that you compulsively gamble, and especially, lose."