When you’re a twenty-something visiting Las Vegas for the first time, discovering the concept of complimentary cocktails can be an eye-opening experience to say the least.

They don’t call the place “Sin City” for no reason I suppose. Beer and liquor will be lavished on players free of charge, and all you need is a dollar to tip the server to keep the drinks flowing.

They say alcohol is a social lubricant, but in the casino setting, free drinks are a dastardly weapon deployed by the house. Simply put, drunk players place bigger bets on the worst games, making them perfect marks for casinos that already enjoy a healthy edge.

Of course, every person has their own choices to make, and I’ve been one to find fault when a gambler tilts one back. To each their own, live and let live, all that jazz. And I don’t fault the house either, as a casino without alcohol would bore most recreational players out of their gourds.

But drinking while gambling can be dangerous game, especially for folks who don’t know their limits. I’ve seen far too many friends blow their bankroll after having one too many boilermakers, and I’d hate to see the same thing happen to you.

On that note, I’ve put together a list of my recommended “drunk gambling” games. I’m definitely not advising anybody to drink and play, don’t get me wrong there. But owing to the fact that many players do indeed choose to imbibe while wandering the casino floor, I feel comfortable tackling the controversial topic head on.

If you’re planning to have an adult beverage or three the next time you visit the casino, stick to the games and bets below to protect your bottom line from going belly up.

Video Poker and Slot Machines

I’m going to start with the machine games first, because they offer one distinct advantage for inebriated players – privacy.

If you’re playing blackjack, craps, or roulette, chances are good you’ll be playing as part of a crowd. And if you’ve ever played alongside a drunk tablemate, you should know by now that it’s just not a good look. Don’t be “that guy” (or “that gal”), and take your drunken shenanigans to the video poker and slot areas where you can play alone.

Another prime benefit afforded by machine games like video poker and the slots is that you control the pace of play.

Gambling while under the influence inevitably lowers your inhibitions, and when your grinding a table game, you have to continually place wagers to keep up. Once a new hand, roll, or spin is finished, you have no choice but to place another bet within seconds, otherwise the dealer will simply skip you and continue on.

Drunk blackjack – example

Might see you put 100 bets up in a single hour – and that can be inordinately risky when you’re not in the right state of mind to play perfectly.

Over on the video poker and slot games, however, there’s no dealer to control the gameplay. You can take a hand or spin, soak in the result, then sit back for a few seconds and think things through. When you want to make another bet, go ahead and do so, then take another breather.

By modulating your play in this fashion, machine games give drunk players the best chance to reduce their overall risk.

Personally speaking, I prefer video poker over the slots simply because I enjoy skill and strategy over games of chance. But video poker players who have tied on one enjoy an additional benefit when compared to their slot-playing counterparts – increased equity.

The average slot machine offers players a steep house edge of 7 to 8 percent, which is about eight times higher than you’d face playing blackjack with no knowledge of basic strategy whatsoever.

The classic video poker variant of Jacks or Better, on the other hand, runs at a house edge rate of just 0.46 percent.

Given a choice between a game hovering near 10 percent house edge, and one well under 1 percent, even a thoroughly soused gambler should know video poker is the better bet.

Cash Game Poker (No Limit Texas Holdem)

Speaking of poker, drunk players can get a ton of bang for their buck by heading into the casino’s poker room.

Provided you know how to play Texas holdem (or pot limit Omaha for the younger crowd), cash game poker is a great venue for players who like to have a few brews.

Let’s say you have $200 to burn and you’d like to stretch that bankroll out for a full day’s worth of fun. Well, even playing for quarters on the machine games, you’ll likely run through those funds within an hour or so – even while playing slowly.

But take that same $200 to a standard $1/$2 No Limit Texas holdem table, and you’ll have plenty of room to work with.

The $1/$2 figure from above reflects the “blinds,” or the forced bets that players take turns making around the table. Given a basic nine-handed table, you’d only need to put in $3 total to cover those blinds during every “orbit” of nine hands.

The typical cash game poker hand takes about a minute to complete, but about once an orbit, you’ll see a hand stretch out for five minutes or more. At that pace, you’ll be seeing roughly 30 hands per hour at best, which comes to three orbits for every 60 minutes of play.

That’s just $9 an hour to sit in a poker game and enjoy the steady flow of free drinks.

Now then, that game plan assumes that you’ll be folding every hand, and that’s no fun now is it?

The beauty of a low-stakes cash game is that the betting remains relatively affordable in the early going. Somebody might raise the $2 big blind up to $8 or $10, then a few others call, and you toss in $10 to take a shot at the $40 pot.

And with a game like Texas holdem, the vast majority of two-card starting hands you see won’t even be worth playing in the first place. This lets you comfortably fold for an orbit or two, ditching trash hands like 9-3 and J-2 without spending more than a few bucks.

Then, when the dealer does slide you a premium hand – your pocket Aces, Kings, Queens, or Jacks, along with Ace-King – you can spring into action and get your gamble on. Playing strong hands like this gives you a leg up over the competition, and if the cards cooperate, you’ll quickly score a nice sized pot – or even a full double up.

Even better, it only takes one small pot to be pushed your way to mitigate the erosion of the blinds. You might send $20 into oblivion by folding for several straight orbits, but when you bet out and take a small pot, you’ll break even or better.

This cyclical nature – folding and losing a few chips, betting and winning them back – allows the average small-stakes No Limit Texas holdem player to hang around the table for hours on end. As long as you avoid the catastrophic blunders – like bluffing off all your money, or betting big and then folding away your equity – you can maintain your initial starting stack simply by playing sound fundamental poker.

With all that said, too many drinks combined with Texas holdem can definitely be a recipe for disaster. Just ask this unfortunate gentleman who was caught on camera blowing his bankroll at big cash game during the 2011 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA).

That’s a truly sorry spectacle to behold, but it’s all too common when extremely drunk players try to take their table by storm.

On the flip side of that coin, poker legend Scotty Nguyen – never seen without a trusty bottle of Michelob Light by his side – put on a show for the ages while playing completely sauced. After paying $50,000 to enter the 2008 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Player’s Championship event – a grueling tournament featuring the five-game poker mix known as H.O.R.S.E. – Nguyen proceeded to secure a coveted seat at the final table.

From there, he proceeded to get blitzed, babbling his way through hands, needling opponents, and generally making an ass of himself. Despite that fact, Nguyen still played high-level poker, and as you can see in this montage of his drunken “highlights,” his far from sober state even managed to throw experienced opponents off of their game.

Nguyen did manage to bag a gold bracelet in that event, but his reputation took a hit when his drunken tirade was aired on ESPN’s final table broadcast. Nguyen certainly was out of line at many points, especially as his drinking progressed and he failed to find the off switch.

Here’s just a sampling of the invective Nguyen spat while playing one of the most prestigious poker games in the world:

Where’s my fucking cocktail, man? What’s up with this, man? Does this table wait forever? Fuck, enough is enough, man. We play in this game, we wait for a fucking cocktail?

Nguyen’s good friend and peer among the professional ranks Todd Brunson described the scene to Card Player magazine the next day:

Scotty was under a lot of pressure to win. While he almost always drinks while playing, I’ve never seen him drink that much either at or away from the table. I also think the time issue caught up with him.
The final table went well into the morning, and once you start drinking like that, you’re going to crash if you stop. It’s hard to defend him after the display [he] put on, but Scotty truly is a nice guy and a gentleman gambler 99.9 percent of the time.
ESPN just caught him during that 0.1 percent when he went freakin’ crazy.

Playing poker drunk can definitely be a double-edged sword to be sure, but if you’re already a proficient player – and you can keep things in moderation – you might even pull of big payday like the Prince of Poker himself. With that said, nobody wants to see a fun and friendly poker game devolve into drunken debauchery, so if you have trouble controlling yourself, perhaps poker isn’t the casino game for you.

If you’re just trying to enjoy a good buzz, however, low-stakes cash games featuring Texas holdem are a terrific way to stretch a few bucks out for a full day of play.


This may seem counterintuitive to many readers out there, especially if the word bingo conjures images of your grandparents heading out for a night at the Elk’s Lodge.

Bingo isn’t the sexiest casino game by any stretch, but in 2018, you can have a blast drinking at your favorite bingo hall. Today, most major casinos – and even many mid-tier venues – have attached bingo halls. These expansive rooms are built to accommodate large crowds, and if you time your trip right, you’ll find a scene resembling a night club or concert rather than a casino.

Over the last decade or so, casino managers have been experimenting with ways to bring a younger crowd into the bingo hall. The game’s association with elderly players, charity drives, and church pot lucks has put the younger generation off bingo for the most part, but they just don’t know what they’re missing.

Check out this clip hyping Late Night Bingo at Casino Arizona in Scottsdale. Bright lights, loud music, and free drinks flowing all night – what’s not to love?

If the casino is willing to set up a gaming experience that resembles your favorite nightly hotspot, why not have a few drinks and enjoy the evening playing bingo?

Thankfully, the concept of “Party Bingo” has spread like wildfire within the gambling industry, so most casino bingo halls run some variation on the theme. These events act like modern day social mixers too, bringing a diverse collection of young players together and loosening things up with complimentary cocktails, pitchers of beer, and other liquid luxuries.

As for the game itself, bingo is a surprisingly entertaining way to spend a few bucks at the casino. The bingo cards cost only a buck or two apiece – although, you’ll want to play a few cards per round to have a legitimate chance at winning – and each round stretches out for 20 to 30 minutes. While it does, you’ll be chatting away with neighbors and pouring the next round.

When you card begins to fill up, pay close attention though, because landing a bingo can be quite lucrative. Depending on the house rules and current promotions, you can bag a cool thousand dollars or more on a basic $2 card.

And the best part about playing bingo while you’re feeling tipsy is the game’s simplicity. Just listen for the caller to declare the latest letter-number combination, stamp the appropriate spaces on your card, and hope to connect a five-space line – it really is that easy.

Pai Gow Poker

This game leans a bit towards the advanced site of the casino game spectrum, as it’s admittedly quite complex – but only at first glance.

Inspired by the ancient Chinese gambling game known as Pai Gow Tiles, the modern table game offshoot uses a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, plus a single wild Joker card.

After placing your ante bet, the dealer distributes seven cards your way, and seven cards for themselves. Your job is to divide those seven cards into two different hands – a two-card “low” hand and a five-card “high” hand.

For the five-card high hand, standard poker hand rankings apply, so one pair is better than nothing, two pair beats one pair, three of a kind outdoes two pair, and so on up the ladder. You’ll want to identify the best five-card hand out of your seven cards, and set those as the high hand.

For the two-card low hand, you can only make pairs and non-pairs, with pairs obviously outranking non-paired hands.

The trick of Pai Gow Poker is that your high hand must outrank your low hand. Thus, if you had a seven-card starting hand like 2-2-4-4-5-K-A, you couldn’t use the 2-2-5-K-A as the high hand and the 4-4 as the low hand. This clever wrinkle ensures that setting your hand correctly is never really as obvious as it may seem.

When your high and low hands are set, the dealer will do the same with their own seven cards, before comparing each to their counterpart. When your high hand beats the dealer’s high hand, and your low hand does the same, you’ll receive an even money payout on your wager.

But in cases when only one of your hands is the winner, while the other loses to the dealer’s equivalent, your bet is simply returned as a push.

All in all, you’ll only win 30 percent of the deals you see – and you’ll lose 30 percent of the time for that matter. As for the other 40 percent of hands, those will result in a tie to produce a push.

This high expectation for pushed bets – which means you don’t win or lose a dime – makes Pai Gow Poker the perfect table game for drunken gambling. You can spend hours at the table, pushing chips forward and taking them back, all while your bankroll remains largely untouched. And when the cards happen to start running hot, it only takes a few winners in a row to really punish the house.

Here’s a short video tutorial on how to play Pai Gow Poker to get you started.

Another reason why drunk players should explore Pai Gow Poker is the game’s low house edge rate. At only 2.70 percent on average, this game is well within the acceptable margins for table game risk – which I cut off at American roulette’s 5.26 percent house edge.

Between the multiple opportunities for a pushed pot, and that very reasonable house edge rate, Pai Gow Poker is one of the more painless casino gambles on the floor.


Playing casino games while drinking is a time honored tradition, for better or worse. I would never tell anybody to play drunk, but I certainly wouldn’t tell them not to either. Every player is free to make their own decisions when it comes to their lifestyle, so my only hope is that you’re better prepared for your next alcohol-fueled casino adventure by choosing the safest games.

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