Casino Quest: Learning to Play Without Actually Gambling
I have a weird relationship with Las Vegas. As you could see by searching the city’s name on this site, I write about it often as I’m typically there at least a few times a year. Yet, I don’t go there to party nor do I expect to leave town with sacks of money I won from gambling. Instead, if I gamble at all, I do like to play a little Blackjack with my friend… but get nervous if I’m playing with my own bankroll. Of course, it took me a while to get up the nerve to even do that as I’m intimidated by the casino atmosphere and, more importantly, I hate losing money. That’s why I was excited to find a spot on the Strip called Casino Quest where you can not only play a number of table games without actually gambling but can also learn how to play these games if you’re a nervous newbie like I once was.
Casino Quest is located in Fashion Show Mall (which happens to be my favorite spot on the Strip for reasonably priced quick service). The mall itself is located just north of Treasure Island and across from the Wynn while Casino Quest is found on the upper level near Dillards. According to their Facebook, the shop is open 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day.
Currently, Casino Quest offers the opportunity to learn Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, or Roulette at a cost of $20 per person per hour. However, in a recent podcast on their YouTube channel (which is actually how I discovered them), they mentioned that this fee could soon be going up to $25 per hour for walk-ins but will stay at $20 for online reservations. On that note, if you’re interested, you can view and book available slots on their site.
While I’ve played some Blackjack in Vegas before and have grown fairly comfortable playing (occasionally turning to my friend to ask him what the proper move is), my wife has only played on an app. Thus, before we decided to give the live tables a try, I thought she’d be more at ease seeing what it was like to play IRL — including using the required hand signals, getting a feel for the flow of the game, etc.
Since we already knew how the game worked overall, our dealer jumped right into providing us with some chips and getting us ready to play. Just like in a real casino, the cards were dealt from a shoe and each of us played our hands from our designated spots. Although the dealer offered the typical banter you’d find in a real casino, they’d also take the time to explain new concepts as they popped up and answer any questions we had along the way. When the hour was done (we actually went a few minutes over, allowing us to finish the current shoe we were playing), they colored up our chips to see how we did. For the record, I somehow ended up raking an extra $71 while my wife was very close behind at $70. I’d say “if only we were at a real casino…” but we all know that isn’t how that works.
As an added bonus, they also provided us with basic strategy cards, which show the proper action based on what cards you have and what card the dealer is showing. Since most casinos won’t allow you to have your phone out at the table, this analog edition was very much appreciated — and was actually what I was on the hunt for when we first wandered into the shop. We did end up bringing this card to the Tropicana with us the next morning and referred to it at least a few times (soft hands and splits can be a bit confusing sometimes). Rest assured, the dealers and pit boss did not mind at all that we had the card with us and even advised us to check it on a couple of occasions where we weren’t sure what move to make.
Considering that you could certainly lose a lot more than $20 per person in an hour at a casino — especially on the Strip where table minimums are typically higher — I think that Casino Quest is a pretty good deal and is an awesome idea. Even if you have played these games before, it’s fun to experience them without the pressure that comes with actual gambling or the distractions of a packed casino. So whether you want to learn a new casino game, brush up on your skills (read: luck), or just play without the threat of losing your shirt, definitely check out Casino Quest on your next visit to Las Vegas.