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Potawatomi Bingo Casino is located in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley.

A beginner's guide to gambling



Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on May 23, 2012 at 5:31 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.


Potawatomi Bingo Casino is more than 750,000 square feet with about 3,100 slot machines, 100 table games, a 1,400-seat bingo hall, off-track betting and a 20-table poker room. For someone who hasn't gambled before, it might be a bit daunting to walk in the door and start pulling handles and doubling down.

The fact is, with a little bit of knowledge – and cash – spending an afternoon or evening in the casino is a lot of fun. It's worth a trip just to people-watch, have a drink, enjoy one of the restaurants, check out Native American artifacts and listen to the jingly-jangly sounds of slot machines, spinning wheels and shuffling cards.

However, to take the experience a step further and really give Potawatomi a whirl, here are some playing tips, house rules and general suggestions for first-timers to consider.

For starters, all guests must be at least 18 years old to enter the casino. There is free parking in a parking structure that adjoins – via a skywalk – the casino. There are also valet parking services available.

"I would really urge a new visitor to explore a little before they start gaming. See what piques your interest and ask our team members questions," says Winslow Mexico, the assistant general manager of gaming operations at Potawatomi. "We offer everything from penny slots, to $100 minimum-bet machines in our high-limits area of the gaming floor."

No matter what a guest chooses to play, all gaming requires cash. So have some on hand, or use an ATM that's inside the facility. The ATMs also offer a check-cashing option, but keep in mind that casino ATMs sometimes have pricey fees.

Now for the million-dollar question: how much money should you spend?

"Beginners should wager what they're comfortable with. However, we always urge our guests to set, and stick with, a limit when it comes to the amount of cash they wager," says Mexico.

Slot machines are a good place for newbies to start. The slots play in different denominations from one penny to $100. Many are 25 cents per "pull," these have a yellow light on top, or $1 slots which have a blue light on top. Dollars are fed right into the machines.

Slots no longer spit out coins to winners. Instead, winnings are credited on an encoded ticket. Don't lose the ticket or you're out of luck. To cash out a ticket, go to a kiosk or a cashier area and redeem them for the cash value on the ticket or put them into another machine to play. If a person wins $1,200 or more, taxes must be paid, and a slot attendant will assist in filling out the proper paperwork.

"Clearly a majority of our guests play the slot machines. I recommend you select a slot machine that looks fun to you and a denomination you want to play. Be it 'Wheel of Fortune' or a machine based on the movie 'The Hangover,' they all offer you a chance to win. You may want to start with a reel slot machine that features old-school bars and cherries, and then move up to one that's a little more complex – like one of our video machines," says Mexico.

Video poker is also an easy place to start and these machines are located in banks on both sides of the casino. The game electronically deals a hand and then the player hits a button to discard unwanted cards.

Although the rules are relatively simple, prior to engaging in blackjack, players will need to do Internet research or talk to an experienced blackjack player. For more information, go to the Potawatomi Bingo Casino instructional videos for blackjack, roulette, craps and more.

Potawatomi hosts training sessions for groups, but the sessions have to be scheduled in advance.

Once ready, sit down at one of the tables, hand cash to the dealer and in return, he or she will give the equal amount of gaming chips. Basically, if the player's combination of cards is closer to 21 than the dealer's, the player wins.

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