Blog 21: Dutchies Hostel – Blackjack, a guide to gambling in Amsterdam

It’s all fun and games in Amsterdam, the city offers so much attractions and excitement. Most of us stay way longer than expected. Downfall of that is that our traveling funds can run out quickly and as my uncle Les used to say: “When the money is gone, it’s time to move on”, or is it? If you are feeling lucky, maybe one spin of a roulette wheel or couple of Blackjacks will be enough to extend your stay. It’s all in the cards.

The games
Gambling has more than one face. In this paragraph we are going to focus on games of luck. When it comes to these, the city is literally overflowing. Walk out of the Dutchies and you don’t need more than a minute to find the first one-armed bandit. Most of the bars and sometimes even a soul food restaurant will have one or a couple in the corner. The closer we get to the centre of Amsterdam, the more places we find that are proudly naming themselves casinos. Flashy lights and big fonts that are informing you that perhaps you are the one who is going to win. These are hard to miss and pretty obnoxious if you ask me.

To participate in the rich variety of slot machines, blackjack and roulette tables you need to be above 18 years old and have at least 10 euro to your name, as this is the minimal bet in most cases. These places usually don’t have a dress code and most of them are open up until midnight. After entering the casino, it is all between you and the universe. We wish you good luck, as we would like to see more of you in the hostel, but it’s worth realising that the only true winners in this type of gambling are the machine owners.

There are also gambling games based on skill. To those we count Blackjack, Russian poker and the king of them all – poker.

The last one is a game of skill played in a randomised environment of cards. The skill part comes from the fact that you play against other people. It is totally up to you to develop a better strategy, give less information and balance your ranges. The gambling part only comes from the fact that you have no influence over the cards that are going to hit the table and that gives a spark of hope to everybody taking a seat on the felt.

The Casino
Your mind is probably imagining a vividly coloured room, where free drinks are being poured all night, delicious food can be found on some tables and where no clocks can be found. For some a safe haven that is open 24 hours a day, just in Las Vegas. Right?

Well, you can toss that image out of your head. Welcome to the Netherlands. Here there are limits. There are in total 8 locations where you can legally play poker, namely the Holland Casino. One of their locations is at the Leidseplein in Amsterdam. The poker tables are opened each day from 8PM to 3 AM. Which gives us the most befuddling conclusion – one of the few branches of business that can make money 24/7 is being closed every night, just as the action heats up and pots get bigger. Not the smartest idea, but then again – I don’t work for the government.

So, what to wear when going to a casino? Well I can tell you what not to wear. Shorts and sweat pants are for sure a no-go. Better not to ask how I know this… Nevertheless, I really recommend to go and take a look. The inside of the casino is a charm itself. The space is overwhelming. The ceiling is at least 10 meters high and this part actually resembles what you could expect in Vegas quite a bit. In the casino you’ll find a well-equipped bar and a Rembrandt themed high-end restaurant right next to the tables that is constantly buzzing action.

Let’s play !
As an aspiring poker player, you will have a choice of cash games with blinds ranging from 2/2 to 5/10/straddle in two poker types – No limit Hold’em and Pot limit Omaha. On the small stakes tables the atmosphere is always casual. There are a lot of people who just came to have some fun and drink beers. It is not uncommon that other players will offer you a drink. Turns out people that perceivably have won money tend to be very generous.

In that atmosphere, dense with ethanol, free of cigarette smoke and full of friendly banter, time flies. Usually it will last as long as your money or your luck will last. However, you have to remember that with a cash game you can quit at any time.

In that magical place, only some of the workers will remind you that this is a government establishment. Some of them, will look like it is a punishment for them to be there, don’t mind that and try to make their equivalent of jail time as pleasant as possible. A good joke never hurt nobody.

Last but definitely not least, if you are planning on visiting the casino: here is some advice.

  1. If you don’t know much about poker, it is much better to be selective with the hands that you play, but then the ones that you decide to play – do it aggressively.
  2. Counter intuitively: you need a stronger hand to call than to raise. If someone checks back their cards and quickly says all-in, happily pushing the chips towards the middle pot – just fold.
  3. And the most important one, if you cannot afford to lose that money you put on the table, don’t play. Poker shouldn’t be about stress.

Let’s go !
So, whether you are looking to meet some new, exciting people, boost your bankroll to extend your stay in Amsterdam, visit one of the best restaurants with a great view over the canals or observe a real live game of dwarf sized chess pieces – it is a great idea to visit the casino.

Want to visit the Casino? In the lobby of Dutchies we’ll have some great discount-cards. One of those cards gives you free entrance + one drink at the casino. I will always recommend the skill games, for the sake of interacting with others and the winning chances not being skewed against you, but if you are feeling really lucky even a slot machine will do.

In any case, please remember to gamble responsibly.