Now that you’ve got your gambling budget set and your players card printed, you’re ready to pick a game and start gambling (and earning comps)! But which one should you pick?

There’s two main ways to gamble: table games or machines. Each of them have their advantages and disadvantages, so as with everything in Las Vegas, it’s up to you to figure out what you enjoy the most. Check out my post on table games and my post on machines for a crash course in what to expect, and then head back here to figure out which game(s) are best for you!

Everyone has their own preferences when gambling, so here at Viva Las Value, I’ve decided to break down gambling into a variety of indexes so you can choose the games that are most in line with the experience you’re looking for. Of course the best way to see if you like a game is to try it yourself, but I hope my Viva Las Value Index will help give you some initial direction. I will rank all games on the following scale:

Viva Las Value Index

Drinking Efficiencylow/medium/highHow cost effective the game is for free drinks
Barhopping Bankroll$ to $$$$$How much money you should be prepared to risk for a road drink (<15 minutes)
Barfly Bankroll$ to $$$$$How much money you should buy in for to get plastered (2+ hour session)
Longevitylow/medium/highHow long your money is likely to last while betting the minimum
Strategylow/medium/highHow much sobriety is required to play with good strategy
Oddsbad/decent/goodHow good the expected payback is (with good strategy)
Chance of Hitting Biglow/medium/highHow likely you are to win more than double your session bankroll
Chance of Going Brokelow/medium/highHow likely you are to lose all your session bankroll

Best and Worst Bets

Drinking EfficiencyhighPai Gow Poker; Video Poker; SlotslowRoulette; Blackjack
Barhopping Bankroll$Slots; Video Poker$$$$$Blackjack; Roulette
Barfly Bankroll$Pai Gow Poker; Video Poker; Blackjack$$$$$Roulette
highPai Gow Poker; Video Poker; Blackjack
StrategyhighVideo Poker; Blackjack
lowSlots; Roulette
OddsbadKeno; Slots; RoulettegoodBlackjack; Video Poker; Craps
Chance of Hitting BiglowPai Gow Poker; BlackjackhighSlots; Roulette; Keno
Chance of Going BrokehighSlots; Roulette; CrapslowPai Gow Poker; Video Poker; Blackjack

As you can see, games generally fall into one of two categories: less volatile games with better odds and more complex strategy, or more volatile games with worse odds and easier strategy. Just like everything in life, there are always tradeoffs. It ultimately comes down to what you value most.

If you’re looking for simple strategy, you’re going to be giving up some odds.

If you’re looking for the potential to win big, you’re also introducing the potential to lose big.

If you’re looking for a game that you can play for a long haul, you’ve got to be willing to weather the swings.

As a liberal arts graduate, it’s hard for me to give a concrete answer for what game(s) I recommend, since everyone is unique, and people get different enjoyment from different games. But if I was sufficiently drunk, here’s what I’d probably say:

  • If you’re looking to win (or lose) a lot quickly… Roulette or Slots
  • If you’re looking to play for a while… Blackjack or Video Poker
  • If you’re looking to maximize your odds… Craps, Blackjack, or Video Poker
  • If you’re looking for a longshot huge win… Slots or Roulette
  • If you’re looking for the best chance for a small profit… Video Poker or Blackjack
  • If you’re looking to milk as many free drinks as possible… Pai Gow Poker, Bartop Video Poker, or slow roll slots


Machines – less social, lower minimums, you control betting speed

Video Poker

Slot Machines



Table Games – more social, higher minimums, dealer controls betting speed


Pai Gow Poker




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